I am a big fan of having a “first look” on your wedding day. Many couples choose to share this moment privately, which often turns out to be one of their favorite parts of the day.
The wedding day goes by SO fast and is filled with so many overflowing emotions. And let’s be honest, it can oftentimes be stressful for the couple. They have dreamed up and put together this beautiful event, looking their absolute best, put in the spotlight all day long while they commit their lives to one another and celebrate with loved ones. It’s no doubt that nerves run high.
One of the most intense and emotion-filled moments throughout the entire wedding day is the instant the couple first lays eyes on one another. When they first look at each other, it becomes a moment with just the two of them. The world stands still. The chaos quiets. Nervousness slips away. The couple can freely enjoy an emotional connection that they’ll cherish forever.
Some couples immediately dismiss the idea of a first look at their wedding because of how “non-traditional” it is. Those who are not interested in a first look typically think that seeing each other beforehand will take away from the reaction at the ceremony. What I’ve found is that it tends to be quite the opposite.
At my own wedding, my husband and I shared a first look before our ceremony and read private, sentimental letters to each other. Then, later at the ceremony he STILL came to tears as I walked toward him down the aisle.
The truth is, if you’ve never seen your partner cry or get emotional, it’s just as unlikely to happen on your wedding day. If your fiance tends to be on the more emotional side, you may just get to experience it twice. However, it’s best to go into it with no expectations set for one another. Just soak in the moment of solitude together. It may be the only one you get that day.
You’re certainly not required to plan a first look by any means! I highly encourage you to plan a wedding day that caters best to you and your partner’s personalities. Your wedding day should be a special day you two will remember and cherish forever. But from my experience, the first look between you and your partner is best captured before the wedding ceremony, rather than at the altar.
Here are 6 reasons I think every couple should plan to have a first look at their wedding.
1. A First Look Calms the Nerves
You know those pre-jitters you get before an important event, like a sporting competition or a school presentation? Well, your wedding day is no exception. Knowing how special and momentous this day is can create a little bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of nervousness for both you and your fiance.
Holding a first look gives the two of you time to see each other and let the rest of the wedding day hustle slip away. Think of it as emotional preparation for the ceremony. You’ll get to spend time focusing on each other rather than feeling nervous. You’ll get to connect with your best friend and life partner, and take a deep breath together. I’ve heard countless couples express how seeing their fiance before the ceremony made them feel less nervous.
2. Having a First Look Gives You Alone Time Together
Alone time. Together. On your wedding day. It’s rare! Planning a first look means you’ll have the time and space for a few private moments together to soak in and share the bliss of each other and your special day.
When John and I saw each other, we cried and laughed and cried some more. We read our letters to each other, showed off our ensembles, shared some hugs, pet our dog, and released emotions already building up. He’s my best friend and the person that brings me the most peace in this world. We were at ease and in the perfect mood for a few romantic portraits and ready for our wedding ceremony.
3. You’ll Look Your Best During a First Look Photo Session
Because first looks happen before the ceremony, you’ll be feeling fresh and looking your best for these photos! Let’s be honest, you’re going to look amazing all day at your wedding. But in the morning you’ll have pristine attire, your make-up all fresh, and your hair will be in place. No need to worry about crying off that mascara or the groom accidentally spilling something on his suit (you love him, but he can be a bit of a klutz 😏).
4. You’ll Have More Wedding Day Photos to Enjoy
Having a first look means you’ll have more beautiful moments captured of your wedding day. You’ll also have more photos to enjoy later.
In a survey done by the New York magazine, recent brides revealed what they wish they had a chance to do over from their wedding day, along with things they would never want to change. This survey found that 21% of recent brides wished they had spent more money on their wedding day photos. This was more than any other single item on the list! This tells us brides wished they had prioritized their photos more.
Having a first look is one way you can prioritize photos on your wedding day. You don’t want to live with the same regret. Taking photos with your partner early in the day means you won’t have to worry about looking back and wishing you had taken more photos with each other. It also means, when you do “Just Married” portraits after the ceremony, we can start to get creative because we know we’ve already captured amazing photos of you two looking your best.
As much as you plan your wedding, you can’t always account for the unexpected: poor weather, traffic delays, family drama, etc. Any of these things could delay your photo session time with friends and family. But with your first look photos done pre-ceremony, you can rest assured you’ll have those intimate photos to hold onto.
5. Enjoy More Time With Your Guests
Traditionally, brides and grooms see each other for the first time at the altar. That means in order to get those special 1:1 photos with just the two of you, you’ll have to spend more time away from friends and family after the ceremony.
When a first look happens before the wedding ceremony starts, we can typically capture the bridal party photos before the ceremony, too. That saves SO much time! Then, after the ceremony, we can capture any family photos, then take another short amount of time for “Just Married” photos of you newlyweds, and get you two to your reception faster! (I do not recommend doing family photos before the ceremony, more on that another time.)
6. You’ll Capture Truly Emotion-Filled Photos
A first look is an intimate moment shared between the couple. It takes place away from the crowd and all the guests you’ve invited. Without the pressure of other people being there to watch, first-look photos often capture a more emotion-filled and authentic reaction to seeing each other for the first time. Because of the privacy, it helps fight nerves from kicking in and allows genuine emotions to shine through.
And don’t worry, this doesn’t make the moment of seeing each other at the altar any less special. In fact, it makes that moment even more remarkable because couples don’t feel as nervous or feel like they need to react a certain way for those who are watching. They’re allowed to react more authentically.
Choosing to Have a First Look
There are tons of wedding traditions. Some are old and timeless, others are relatively new. When it comes to your own wedding day, embrace the wedding traditions that are most important to your relationship. There are lots of opinions about whether or not to have a first look, (and I know I’m a little biased when it comes to wedding photos 😉). Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you as a couple.
If you choose to have a first look before the ceremony, contact me to plan it out! The best way to capture the special moments of your wedding is to hire a professional wedding photographer who can eternalize those special intimate moments of your wedding day.