As a wedding photographer, one of the most common questions that I receive in regards to a timeline is to “first look” or “not to first look”. I am not one to compare the two in a "pros vs. cons" type of way - but what I have put together a taste of what a “first look” experience is like and what makes this moment so cool!
First off, in no way is this intended to change the minds of those who would like to keep their day traditional. Your wedding is yours, you make the rules! I did however, look into what exactly where the tradition and perhaps superstition came from. I have heard that it is “bad luck” to see each other before the ceremony so this is what it is all about: When arranged marriages were commonplace, the ceremony was basically a family to family business deal - one that could fall through if the groom opted out. If the groom decided his fiancé wasn’t what he was expecting, he could bail. To prevent this from happening, it was decided that a groom couldn’t see the bride before the ceremony. Seeing each other before the nuptials doesn’t exactly lead to bad luck- but essentially it could lead to a runaway groom.
Fear not first lookers! Your marriage is not cursed!
Another concern for those that are in first-look-limbo is that they want to experience the moment of seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony. While I do agree with this moment being special, just picture if you will if that moment went from being a few steps down the aisle to multiple moments that you can really breathe in.
Consider those few seconds when you first see each other at the ceremony and all of the thoughts racing through your brain “don’t trip” and “don’t cry” or the pressure of all eyes on you. First look turns this into a time that has all of your focus and attention on each other, you feel uninhibited and you have given yourself an opportunity to do whatever you feel like to express your true emotions. This isn't something that you have time for during the ceremony. You could be spending so much energy trying not to cry in front of everyone that you may just miss the moment entirely.
First look is when a photographer becomes giddy (ok, here is a selfish comment) the photos that you get from a first look are absolutely genuine and real. You are able to freeze so many more moments because you have given yourself the time to feel all the feels and let it all out. These photos can be taken in a place that is free from distraction and can be a truly beautiful.
It is absolutely amazing to watch the bride, groom (or both) go from a stressed out ball of nerves to completely chill the second that they see the other. It is like a weight lifted in the comfort of each other. First look gives you the opportunity to eliminate your stressors and share in your excitement!
Let me tell you, regardless if a couple does a reveal or not there is always an amazing moment at the ceremony; the first few moments are always special! There is an amazing feeling of togetherness after a first look. I don't know how to explain it but the ceremony really feels like the couple are really marching in there together. There is no stress of hiding from each other or living half of your day divided; you get to enjoy that much more of it together!
Any way you choose to plan your day is completely your call and that is what is best about it! You get an opportunity to design everything in a way that is fit for you. In no way do I ever attempt to sway anyone in a different direction than they want for their day. However, I do feel like it is really great and interesting to explore different options. Here are some of my personal favourite parts of doing a reveal
-First look takes that first moment of seeing each other and turns it into its own event that is shared between only you two.
-You feel more like partners walking in there together.
-Emotions can be more genuine when expressed in private.
-Nerves calm down when you see one another before the ceremony- allowing you to enjoy the first half of your wedding day more.
-Your schedule is more relaxed which will make your entire wedding day feel more relaxed.
-Doing your bridal party/family/official photos before the ceremony gets them out of the way. Afterwards it allows you to be together with your guests and enjoy your party.
-You have more time for photos of the two of you alone (which may just be some of the only “alone” time you get all day!)
-You may lose light depending on the time of year and the start time of your ceremony. In some cases, your light will be limited to none after a ceremony.
-Cocktail hour is shorter, your guests wont have to wait a few hours in-between your ceremony & party (A time when traditionally most formal photos are taken)
-You are able to plan and take more time for your photos - you are able to enjoy the experience more (photos are fun & not an inconvenience-yay!), you feel less rushed and you can plan for a more relaxed schedule (no panic to fit your photos into a small timeframe - extra yay!)
When I checked in with my latest first look Bride to see what her thoughts were on the experience, this was her response: "I have two words - DO IT! I loved it! It gave us a chance to spend some time together before the craziness of the wedding day began. It was nice to just have our own special moment. I've always been a fan of first look because that way the Groom is actually the first one who sees you- not the person sitting in the back row of the church"
If you are considering a reveal for your wedding and have questions, I would love to chat about it!
| Kayleigh . firstname.lastname@example.org