Being a wedding photographer, I constantly get asked advice about what a bride should do on her wedding day. This prompted me to make a bride FAQ, to help all of those questioning brides seeking advice..and maybe some fellow photographers as well!! So here is my first installment in Bride FAQ…
“Is the first look right for me??”
So, you’re planning a wedding…meeting with photographers, makeup artists, wedding planners..the whole shebang. I’m SURE your head is spinning!! It get’s overwhelming, I understand! The main question many probably will ask you is “Are you planning on doing a first look?”. This has such an impact on your schedule of the whole day and it is a huge deciding factor for many things..which is why it is such an important (and personal) decision! I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if not.. a first look is when you see your significant other for the first time before the ceremony. GASP, I know. SOO not traditional…but who says we have to follow those traditions!? Doing a first look has MANY benefits including: Being able to be to see your loved one for the first time by yourself in an intimate way (can all my shy guys and girls give me a hands up for this one?!), being able to be a blubbery mess without worrying about your makeup being like that for your WHOLE day (just ask your makeup artist to stay and extra thirty minutes for touch-ups!) , getting all of those jitters out of the way so your ceremony isn’t an absolute blur, and last but not least…gives you more time for photos AND more time to mingle with your guests & enjoy your day!! Isn’t that what it’s all about anyways?
As you can see, I am pro-first look. But I wasn’t always that way. My dream wedding has always consisted of my husband-to-be seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle..and that ONE moment you’ll never get back. So for all you traditional guys and gals out there, I totally understand you, which is why I would never force a first look upon anyone. HOWEVER…what I started noticing as I shot more and more weddings, was that the people who did the first look were
1. More laid back
2. Excited to actually be able to JOIN cocktail hour, not skip it
3. SO happy they got to enjoy their day
4. Had more time to take photos and get the photos they wanted (not to mention in a better mood while taking photos!)
5. Not as rushed
Obviously, this is not always the case! When you really take time to think about your schedule you can TOTALLY make it work.
If you do NOT want to a first look and I’m not making you change your mind here are a few things you can do so your day goes smoother:
1. Hire a second shooter, that way you can get separate photos beforehand and get as many photos out of the way as you can.
2. Really think about your timeline (your photographer can help you with this one!)
3. You might have to be ok with missing a lot, or all of cocktail hour.
4. Have an earlier ceremony and a longer cocktail hour
All photographers are different, so be sure to ask them how long it takes THEM to get the photos you need!
As you can see, there are benefits and drawbacks to both… but what I will close with is that never have I ever had a bride and groom who have wished they HADN’T done their first look, only ones that wish they HAD. Do whatever your heart desires, it’s YOUR day. I just want you to make the most informed decision possible 🙂
Here are just a few fun examples of first looks..
By the way, first looks don’t just have to be of you and your husband-to-be…they can be with your daddy as well!
In addition to me trying my best to bring your over to the dark side, I interviewed two of my past brides about their experiences with first looks. One bride did a first look, one didn’t. Take a look!
The first bride who I asked is named Alanna, if you’d like to see her wedding..click here! They chose to do a first look, even after being against it at the beginning.
1. Did you and your fiancé share the same idea of not seeing each other before the ceremony? If not, how’d you come to the conclusion of doing the first glance?
We did not want to see each other before the ceremony and it was something that my husband felt strongly about. We thought it was going to be cheesy and take away from the ceremony. However, the time of our ceremony was cutting it close with regards to lighting and we wanted as many pictures to be taken before the cocktail hour as possible. We decided to do the first look in spite of our reservations.
2. Did seeing each other beforehand take any emotional moments away from the ceremony?
I don’t believe it took anything away from the moment and for me it only added to the experience. I was much more comfortable and was able to enjoy the ceremony more because I was able to talk to and see my husband prior.
3. How do you think seeing each other before hand help or hurt the flow of the day?
Seeing one another before the ceremony was really the only moment during the entire day we had alone with each other except for a minute or two right after the ceremony and it was very special.
4. If you could go back and change it, would you? Why or why not?
I would not change it as it was one of my favorite parts of the entire day.
5. Any advice for future brides?
I would recommend to do a first look to any bride and groom. It is hard to describe just how amazing that moment alone is together but it is the best way to start the event that you two have spent countless hours planning and looking forward to.
Next, is a bride named Abbey..who ended up not doing a first glance.
1) Originally, why didn’t you want to have the first look on your wedding day?
As a self-proclaimed old fashioned and traditional kind of lady, I have always imagined the moment I turn the corner and lock eyes with my future hubby to be! I guess I have always been a romantic, so there was no way I was going to lose this moment. I felt doing the first look takes the romance out of that sacred ceremony, and out of a special tradition that was important to me.
2) What was the best part about not seeing him prior to the ceremony?
Watching my husband’s eyes swell with tears and noticing his ear to ear smile, as I walked down the aisle. I get happy just thinking about it!
3) Are you happy about your choice? Yes.
4) Would you change it? Why or why not? The best advice I received before my wedding was to lock eyes with your husband as soon as you walk down the aisle. Don’t look at the people around you or notice the details yet of your ceremony space. Don’t blink for a second or take your eyes off your husband, as this is the first second of the rest of your life. I did exactly that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The downfall of not doing a first look… I didn’t get as much time for photographs as I would have with the first look. The first look allows an hour or two before the wedding to get a lot of photos without the stress of guests being near-by . After the ceremony, my wedding party and family were mingling and drinking so it was hard to rally the troops for photos after the party started. Not to mention, I too wanted to join the party…so I cut the photo time short. If I would have done a first look, I would have had ample time without feeling energized to hit cocktail hour!
5) Any advice for future brides?! Weddings are one of the most personal experiences of life; it is the fruition of your and your partner’s perfection so do what is most comfortable to you! P.S.- Brides don’t forget to eat (a lot) the week of your wedding , you’ll need something to soak up the champagne
As you can see, either way… it can work, so if you have your heart set on either..don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It is YOUR day, do what YOU want to do. Just make sure that you speak to all vendors about your schedule. That’s the best advice I can give you!