The tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding ceremony has been around for centuries, but lately, many couples have been choosing to do a “first look” instead. A first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, often in a private moment with just the photographer present. While some couples still prefer to stick with tradition, there are some great reasons why you might want to consider a first look for your own wedding. As a wedding photographer, I will ALWAYS recommend a first look to my couples and here’s why:
1. You get more photos
A big advantage of a first look is that it can give you more time for photos. If you wait until the ceremony to see each other, all of the photos have to be taken after the ceremony, which can eat up valuable time. By doing a first look, you can be much more relaxed while taking your portraits and not worrying about time. Plus, you’ll be able to get the wedding party and some family photos done before the ceremony as well, which means your favorite people get to enjoy themselves more after the ceremony!
2. You get to spend more time together + it’ll probably be your only time alone
This one has multiple parts.
1. Wedding days go by in a blur. As soon as the day begins there is so much to do and so many people to see. You’ll be so busy worrying about your guests, that you’ll forget to stop and appreciate each other on the biggest day of your lives. A first look gives you a moment to do that.
2. This day is all about the two of you being together, so why should you spend the first half of it apart? Instead of spending the majority of the day hiding from each other until you come down the aisle, you actually get to spend several hours together before the ceremony starts!
3. You’re not going to be alone at all today! From the minute your bridal party comes over, to the second your reception ends, you’ll have people with you. Doing a first look will give the two of you a moment alone (with a camera shooting from afar) to soak it all in and think through what the day means to you.
3. It helps your nerves
One of the biggest benefits of a first look is that it can help reduce stress on the wedding day. When the bride and groom see each other for the first time during the ceremony, there can be a lot of pressure and nerves involved. Imagine you’re a groom: standing in front of everyone you care about, your bride walks down the aisle, and all eyes are on you to see your gut reaction. That’s a lot of pressure! In general, guys experience bigger emotions in private, intimate moments as opposed to big, crowded ones. When we are getting you both in place for the first look, my hubby/second shooter always stands with the groom and preps him for this huge moment. By doing a first look, you can take that pressure off and have a more relaxed, intimate moment before the chaos of the day begins.
4. More time with your guests
If you wait until after the ceremony to take all of your photos, you’ll probably need about 2 hours of photo time (this depends on your situation of course). That is 2 hours that your guests will be hanging out that you don’t get to spend with them! With a first look, we can bang out your bridal portraits, bridal party pictures, and some of your family portraits before guests even start to arrive! You’ll only have a small amount of time needed after the ceremony to take remaining bridal and family pictures. And then you can head off to that cocktail hour you spent time planning and have fun with your guests, which is what the day is all about!
5. You’ll look as fresh as possible
Picture this: you’ve had your hair and makeup done for probably 3-4 hours at this point, your flowers have been out in the sun, and you’re sweating your ass off in your wedding dress/suit. And now you have to go take pictures for probably about 2 hours. The last thing you’re gonna want to do is smile and pose at this point! Taking portraits prior to the ceremony ensures that your hair, makeup, and flowers will be as fresh as possible in pictures. No touch-ups required!
BTW, yes, a first look breaks tradition. But let’s chat about that tradition real quick. . .
Do you know the real reason brides and grooms were kept from seeing each other until the ceremony? Back in the day, all marriages were arraigned by the families and the bride’s family did not want the groom breaking off the wedding if he didn’t like the way the bride looked. Oof! That’s not super romantic!
Some brides might be worried that if they do the first look, it’ll ruin the “walking down the aisle” moment for them. Well, as someone who did a first look at her own wedding, I can tell you that it didn’t ruin it at all. In fact, I got TWO “walking down the aisle” moments! The first one when my hubby saw me for the first time at our first look (my bridesmaids recorded the whole thing, it was super cute), and the second one when I walked down the aisle for realzies.
Had I already seen him for about an hour at that point? Yes. Did I freaking bawl my eyes out down the aisle anyway? Hell yes I did. My hubby isn’t a crier but he has told me that both moments felt as special to him as well. There’s something so remarkable about walking down the aisle, with all your friends and family around you, to that super romantic music, that a first look will never take away.
So, what are your first look thoughts?
While the tradition of not seeing the bride before the ceremony is still a popular choice, there are definitely some benefits to considering a first look. From reducing stress to having more time for photos to spending time with guests, a first look can be a wonderful addition to your wedding day. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your partner, but it’s definitely worth considering all of your options to make your wedding day as special and memorable as possible.
If you’re still wanting to do the traditional no-first look route, that is totally okay! We’ll work together to make a wedding day timeline that works best for your big day!