...THAT IS THE QUESTION. LET ME HELP FIND THE ANSWER.
What is a first look? Should we do one? Does it make the aisle walk not special anymore? Let me help you answer these questions!
Let's start with the basics - a first look is a time before the wedding where the couple gets to see each other privately. WAIT. If you've already thought to yourself "nope, uh uh", OR if you're someone who knows they want a first look - keep reading. You might change your mind, it's good to read about both sides before deciding. The first look allows time for a couple to share a private moment together alone - which people say can really help with any anxieties.
One of the biggest reasons why people do it is the practicality of it! Doing a first look allows you to take all of your bride & groom, bridal party, and even family pictures before the wedding so that afterwards you can just go throughout the rest of your day without any photo obligations. Also - then there is no wait between the ceremony and reception for you or your guests (….or your reception food, HELLO).
WILL THE MOMENT WON'T BE AS SPECIAL COMING DOWN THE AISLE?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. If they're a crier, they're going to cry both times. I can promise you that one. The moment of you walking down the aisle is still going to be just as unique and tear provoking with or without the first look!
I'll share my personal experience -
My husband and I shared a first look together before our wedding and it was the best decision of the entire day. He cried like a BABY....and so did I even though I said I wasn't going to. We hugged and laughed, and shared honestly one of my favorite moments of the day. Then we did all of our pictures together, sat with our bridal party and shared in laughter and jokes, and then we walked down the aisle. And guess what - he cried again! Because it is still just as special as seeing me for the first time.
BUT WHO'S GOT THE TIME?!
You do!! That's what I'm here for - I know how long these things will take and am more than happy to create a timeline to accommodate all of the process for you! If you're worried about timing, definitely don't let that be a factor.
SHORT & SWEET PROS & CONS LIST
- Your photographer (hopefully me) can take your portraits and possibly other pictures early
- A first look gives you some precious moments together alone before the wedding
- It can settle any extra nerves before the ceremony
- A first look will be much more private & intimate than one at a ceremony
- If you have a ceremony that's later in the day or in the winter season, a first look could provide you with some crucial natural light hours to get some gorgeous pictures
- More time to party!
- You might need to fix your makeup after shedding a few tears
- Starting pictures earlier means getting ready a little earlier
- It could be awkward (Sometimes people feel stiff in front of the camera in anticipation of such an emotional moment, so maybe it's not for you!)
- If you want the special "walk down the aisle" moment, maybe it's not for you
- If you're superstitious, maybe it's not for you either!
SOME ALTERNATIVES TO A FIRST LOOK
There are other ways to do a "first ___ moment" without seeing each other. You can read each other hand written notes while back to back or behind doors, you can hold hands and pray together behind doors or walls, you can play one another a song, there's always options!
While I do recommend this to all of my engaged couples who are planning their wedding. it's your choice. If it makes you feel weird or anxious thinking about doing a first look, maybe it's not for you, and that's okay! At the end of the day your wedding is not about the perfect photos, it's about you and your forever love. I will get great photos of you before, or after the ceremony, this is simply a choice for another experience to share together.
Below are some responses from real couples who either chose to do a first look or not to do a first look and how they felt about their choice in the end.
We did do a first look! It was really special and nice to have that time of just us before the wedding. We were able to get a lot more shots and different backgrounds because we had the extra time. One of the reasons that played a huge factor in choosing to have a first look was the time in between our ceremony and reception and the amount of pictures we wanted of just us. We would have just had a few pictures because even with us doing the first look, we still had a lot of family pictures right after the wedding and that took up most of the time. Since we did it before, we also had time to get full bridal party shots done too and that saved on time for us as well. I had originally wanted to see each other for the first time down the aisle but I'm really happy we did a first look. It was very special and just as emotional. I don't regret it at all. - Taylar & Colby
We didn't want to do a first look because we wanted the purest "revelation" of each other when we walked down the aisle. We wanted the first time we saw each other the day of to be just moments before committing to each other for the rest of our lives. We wanted the "wow" moment to be totally raw and untampered (not that couples who do a first look have anything less wow or impure). We just know ourselves and what we wanted and it was beautiful. - Annee & Jacob
We did do a first look, twice! [They got married once in Africa and once in the US, too cool] I'm happy I did. The moment was special and caught on camera. I absolutely loved it. - Carline & Kingsley
We did! I have pretty bad social anxiety and I knew the only thing I'd think about walking down the aisle was the fact that everyone would be staring at me. I wanted our first look to be just the two of us so I wouldn't have to worry about that. I still got a little nervous, but overall I would recommend it to other people. We also had a super tight schedule, so doing a lot of pictures before the ceremony with our family helped a TON. - Hannah & Cory
We didn't have a first look, but we did go to church that morning together (we got married on a Sunday). I'm happy we didn't have one; I really think the first time the groom should see his bride is as she is walking down the aisle. For several reasons, but mainly because that's the most genuine moment in my opinion. Also, I think it can be stressful to try to "force" emotions before the wedding. Like the groom or bride might feel as if they have to react a certain way or they will mess the moment up & that just adds unnecessary stress to a crazy day already. I'm old-school. I think the suspense of the aisle reaction brings about a better emotion than a private unveiling. - Mary & Joey