The groom seeing the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle is a time-honored wedding tradition. But these days, more and more couples are opting for a first look—an intimate moment between the bride and groom before the ceremony captured by their photographer.
There are a lot of reasons to do a first look, some of which benefit your photographer so we may be a little biased. But depending on your wedding day priorities, a first look can be the perfect addition to your wedding photos and to your big day.
Getting jitters on the wedding day doesn’t mean you have cold feet. In fact, it’s perfectly normally to feel nervous, whether you’re anxious about being the center of attention and speaking in front of a crowd or just afraid something will go wrong. For many couples, having a moment with their partner before the ceremony can actually help to calm both their nerves and ease the stress of the day.
Posed wedding photos can take a huge chunk of time out of your day. If you leave all the portraits until after the ceremony, that means you will have to take family photos, wedding party photos and couple portraits. Your guests could end up waiting at the reception for an hour or more while you get all the images you want. When you have a first look before the ceremony though, you can have some of those photos taken ahead of time, leaving fewer photos for after the ceremony and less wait time for the rest of your guests. Plus, you’ll get some time to enjoy the cocktail hour!
You’ve probably heard that your wedding day will go by in a blur, and it’s true! One moment you’ll be getting ready, and the next the whole day will be gone. That’s why photography is so important, and it’s also why you should take a moment to pause, take a breath and just take the day in. A first look gives you the opportunity to refocus on what’s important and to appreciate the love that brought you to this day.
Some couples worry that seeing each other before the ceremony will rob the rest of the day of its emotion. But I can assure that’s definitely not the case. I’ve worked with couples who waited until the walk down the aisle to see each for the first time, as well as couples who opted a first look, and both were full of joy, laughter and sometimes even tears during their vows. The emotions that are a part of your wedding day will be there whether you see each other beforehand or not.
This applies more to winter weddings, but if you’re having your wedding later in the day, you may miss out on the natural light if you push your couple portraits to after the ceremony. Similarly, if you have great weather before you say “I do,” take advantage! You never know when the weather will change, and you could miss your window to get some amazing shots.
If you choose to do a first look, you will have fresh makeup and perfectly styled hair, and every accessory will be in place. There’s no guarantee the mascara won’t run during your vows or you won’t get a little rumpled from hugging and greeting all those guests. A first look can be a great opportunity to capture you and your partner at your best before the rush of the wedding day really begins.
Tradition shouldn’t dictate what you do on your wedding day, nor should the opinions of friends and family. When deciding whether or not to have a first look, choose what is most comfortable for you as a couple. After all, this is your day and no one else’s, so do what feels right to you.