Over the past few years, the “First Look” has been growing in popularity. In 2012-2013, about 30% of my couples chose to see each other for the first time before the ceremony. By 2016 it was about 70%. In some cases, either the bride or groom reluctantly broke the tradition of seeing their future spouse for the first time at the ceremony; but in all of the cases, once it was said and done, they all loved doing it.
After seeing so many successful first looks, I’ve become a big fan for several reasons. In a traditional wedding ceremony, when you see your future husband or wife for the first time, you are filled with all of that happiness, excitement and love, but you can’t express it, other than with a smile and maybe a whisper. In addition, after a traditional wedding ceremony, you have about 10 seconds after the recessional before bridal party and parents join you to congratulate you, leaving you virtually no time with you new spouse alone.
However, with a first look, all that changes. You can hug, kiss, laugh, check out her amazing wedding dress, see how good he looks in his suit, compliment each other, hold hands and so on. In addition, your nerves are gone, so you can really enjoy the ceremony and that great moment of coming down the aisle. Which brings up perhaps the most cited reason for not doing the first look, wanting the emotional impact of the first look at the ceremony. I can tell you, you’re going to be emotional regardless of the first look or not. I can think of 3 couples in the past year that cried at and during the ceremony, after having a first look. Bottom line, if you’re going to get emotional at the ceremony, you’ll get emotional regardless of the first look. In addition, the usual anxiety is gone, and you can actually focus on the moment and seeing each other coming down the aisle. Finally, and most importantly, you get to spend significantly more time with your fiance on your wedding day.
With the First Look, we can set the timing so that we complete all of the couple photos, bridal party photos and family photos before the ceremony. This means once the ceremony is complete, you can join the cocktail hour with the guests. This will allow you time to greet everyone so that when dinner is served, you can really enjoy it, instead of feeling rushed to eat so you can visit everyone as they eat. Another reason couples elect a First Look is because they want outdoor photos but the ceremony time would impact that negatively. By scheduling a First Look, the couple is able to get great, bright, outdoor photos, while still having their early evening ceremony. In some cases, after the ceremony, couples choose to spend a few minutes doing larger family photos with extended family who couldn’t be there at the First Look. Even in those cases, you’ll still be at most of your cocktail hour. It also means you’ll get to enjoy the food and drink you picked out and are paying for, instead of taking photos.
A note regarding family and bridal party at First Looks: Some couples prefer the First Look to be private. In this case, the bridal party and family can arrive about half an hour after the First Look is scheduled. Some couples like to have the bridal party and family as part of the First Look. The nice thing is that you can decide exactly how, when and where you see your future husband or wife on the day you get married.
Wedding Photography First Look
Chris & Melody’s First Look at Duke Gardens in Durham, NC
Jacques & Melissa’s First Look at Aspen Wye Center in Maryland
Aaron & Lauren’s First Look at the Rose Garden in Raleigh, NC
Marc & Catey’s First Look in Kernersville, NC at Dewberry Farm
Ben & Kristi’s First Look at Ft. Macon on Atlantic Beach in North Carolina (during Hurricane Sandy!)