To do a first look or not - that is the question that all couples must decide for their big day. There are so many factors that go into this decision and it can be overwhelming. After working with so many couples to help them plan the perfect day for them, I've put together my top 5 reasons for a first look pre ceremony.
The practice of waiting until the ceremony for the groom to see the bride in her beautiful dress has become a tradition with social significance. It’s still important for many couples to maintain the dramatic “reveal” during the ceremony, and we firmly believe that’s something that should be respected by your photographer and any other wedding vendor. If I am talking with a client and they are dead set on waiting until the processional to see each other, I will respect their wishes and embrace the moment!
That said, we think it’s important to acknowledge where this tradition comes from: the notion of “bad luck” in terms of seeing your betrothed before the ceremony is from a time when a bride was considered property of her father; marriages were often arranged without the couple meeting each other before exchanging vows. If the groom saw the bride before the ceremony and didn’t like what he saw, he still had time to head for the hills (this is also where the tradition of the bridal veil comes from). So the bride was kept secret from the groom until it was, essentially, too late for him to escape.
Now after all of that, if you're still undecided - here is what a photographer with 19 years experience shooting over 900 weddings thinks!
This is a very emotional day that is going to fly by faster than you can ever imagine. Taking a moment with each other before the wedding begins is a great opportunity to cry, hug, kiss, and whisper about how excited you are without all your friends and family looking on. Yes, we’ll be there with our cameras, but the moment is more intimate and allows the two of you to have a more authentic interaction alone. No distractions, just the love between the two of you!
If you do a first look, it's a great time to plan to take photos of the two of you, your bridal party, and even some (or all) of your immediate family instead of waiting until after the ceremony. If you wanted to attend your cocktail hour, a first look will give you the time to grab a drink and see your family and friends before the grand entrance. This option also gives you time to relax with each other and your bridal party before the party begins.
Once you’ve been through ceremony tears, hugging your guests, and a few hours outside in the hot sunshine (or wind, or humidity, or rain) your hair and makeup won’t look the same. Taking photos during a first look allows you all to be at your best and takes some of the stress out of the day.
Depending on ceremony time, you might have limited time to take advantage of daylight for bridal party photos and photos of the two of you. If you’re getting married in the winter (when days are shorter) or later in the evening (and it’s almost dark when the ceremony is finished), you will have very limited time and may run into a shortage of outdoor photos you were planning on. As your photographer, we want you to have realistic expectations for your wedding photos. If you want that golden hour look, just remember it might not be possible without a first look. If you plan on not doing a first look, then consider moving up your ceremony time to allow more time for photos after.
Taking photos all day long will be tiring. Photo exhaustion is real and something to consider on your wedding day. Some couples reach a point at which they are over it and want to be done. A first look is a great way to get past this. After the ceremony, you can focus on each other and have time to relax before your grand entrance. During this time, your photographer will also have time to capture all the details of your reception, before the party starts.