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A First Look is when a bride and groom choose to first see each other on the day of their wedding in a private setting, away from family and friends [unless they want everyone included], before any of the photos are taken or wedding ceremony begins. The photographer is there to capture the reactions, the emotions and the smiles as the bride and groom first catch glimpses of each other after all the preparations of hair, makeup and getting into the suit and dress have been completed.
The First Look has two main benefits. The first is that the First Look gives the clients much needed privacy on a day that will otherwise have people around 24/7. Yes, it’s your wedding day – of course you want to celebrate it with the people that you love. But with the First Look, you get several precious minutes to just BE. You get to cry if you want to, hug your groom-to-be, marvel at how gorgeous your bride-to-be looks in her dress, and you don’t have a room full of eyes watching your every move.
The second benefit is that it makes the day go much more smoothly in terms of the photography and the day’s timeline. When a couple chooses to do a First Look, I bring the groom to a predetermined location. Once I’m set up to photograph, the bride will then come up behind the groom. All I do is capture the emotions that are present as these two people, who are only hours away from becoming husband and wife, see each other for the first time on their wedding day.
Once they have some time to themselves, to talk and kiss and just take each other in, we begin the bride and groom photos. The wedding party and formal family photos follow and viola! All of the formal photos are finished well before the ceremony even begins. All the couple has to focus on after their wedding is over is greeting their guests, soak in being MARRIED and have a blast at their reception.
In no way will I EVER make a bride do something that she doesn’t want to do. If you have been dreaming your whole life about surprising your groom as you walk down the aisle, then by all means – that’s what we will do! Just because you choose not to do a First Look, that doesn’t mean your wedding day will be rushed and that we won’t be able to find time for photos. Instead, it just means that the timeline of your wedding will have to allow room for photos after the ceremony, before the reception. As long as you know that and you allow time for the photos, the day will go just as smooth as it would have with a First Look.
Personally, I love First Looks. To me, they are emotional, happy, sweet and just plain beautiful. I am able to capture the anxious look on a grooms face as he waits for his bride to come up behind him, and I get to photograph her smile as he turns around to see her. The jitters come out in the open and from there on out, it’s pure joy.
I have experience with the First Look as both a photographer, and as a bride. When Matt and I got married, we chose to do a First Look with our photographer as well. I was so excited and anxious as I walked toward him. After we hugged, kissed and checked each other out for a few minutes, we transitioned smoothly into our wedding party and family photos, with plenty of time to rest and relax, in the same room, before the wedding.
Some people might worry that the walk down the aisle isn’t as special or as monumental once you’ve already seen each other on the day of the wedding. Let me tell you – from personal experience as a bride, that is SO NOT TRUE. As I walked down the aisle, with everyone standing up and the music that I’d hand selected playing, I was a MESS. I have the awkward looking photo to prove it – I’m not a pretty crier. Seeing Matt before didn’t make it any less moving and emotional for me. It was still my walk down the aisle with my parents, toward the man I was marrying, and I know he felt just as many raw emotions at that moment as I did. I think that all of my couples who’ve opted for the First Look will tell you the same thing – the First Look does not make your walk down the aisle any less wonderful and amazing.
So, there you have it! A description of what a First Look is, and why so many couples and photographers like it. That said – if you know that you want to have your walk down the aisle be the first time that your groom sees you, please please please don’t let anyone change your mind. If you have always wanted that suspense and it has been a part of your wedding dreams forever, don’t compromise that just for the ease of your photographer.