Should we do a First Look?

posted 6 years ago in Photos/Videos
Post # 3
83 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2003

OK, I will give you the my perspective…

First looks are magnificent. They are a private moment between you and your spouse, that you  get to share, and the photographer is the only one there. It is raw and fantastic; and it relieves some of the stress of the day. Here is a document that we found years ago, and that we provide all of our clients with to assist them in their decision. (Please pardon the length of the post. The writer is credited at the end)

-First Look

Wedding days should be full of emotion. Wedding days should not be stressful. But let’s face reality, they are. This is why I ask all my clients if they are interested in doing a first look. The first look adds so much beautiful emotion and happiness to a wedding day and alleviates SO much stress, it’s hard to know where to start raving about it!

Well let’s start from the beginning…from the ancient tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony. Many people don’t realize the reason for this was because the bride and groom had NEVER seen each other before the ceremony! It was so the groom, quite frankly, wouldn’t split! Luckily we’ve progressed and in our modern society, marriages (for the most part) aren’t arranged. We CHOOSE to marry the one we love. And we can choose to see them before the ceremony!

Whenever I photograph a couple that chooses not to see each other before the ceremony I try to put myself in their shoes. The bride walks down the aisle to her soon to be husband. They are both completely nervous with all these guests staring at them. The bride reaches the front of the church. Her father is standing between her and her future husband. Her father gives her away and she moves to stand next to her husband. They don’t touch. They don’t talk. They can’t tell each other how amazingly beautiful the other looks. They can’t tell the other how incredibly excited they are to be getting married. They can’t hug, they can’t kiss, they can’t embrace. They can’t have a moment to themselves. After the ceremony is over they are immediately approached by all their loving relatives to be congratulated. This continues into the reception and throughout the night. They never have a moment just to themselves. I’ve been told by many people that your wedding day goes by in such a big blur, that sometimes it’s hard to remember everything. If you do a first look you have time scheduled to slow down and appreciate what this day is all about…being madly in love with the person you’re about to marry!

Some people are concerned that a first look takes away from the emotion of the bride walking down the aisle and being given away by her father. It doesn’t. The bride being escorted by her father creates a completely different kind of emotion. I see grooms choked up in a totally different way than they were when they saw their bride for the first time. Your groom is also prone to have a more natural reaction as you approach him – he’s calm because he has already seen you…instead of being nervous while seeing you for the first time with the stress of 200 guests staring at him!

So how does the first look work? After you are both all done up and dressed for the wedding, we position the groom facing away from where the bride will appear behind him. She approaches him while we capture the happy anticipation on his face. She usually touches (or grabs!) his arm and turns him around. And we the photographers capture, from a distance, all the emotion! You two get to hug, embrace, and savor this moment as long as you want…without the pressure of your guests watching you. You get to talk, laugh, cry (and reapply your makeup before the ceremony!) and we’re there to capture it all!

Another reason to do the first look is that it reduces stress so much! Not only will you be less nervous walking down the aisle, it makes the day run much more smoothly. After we do a first look we do portraits of the bride and groom together. We have plenty of time for creative portraits that you will treasure forever! Then we get the whole bridal party together and do all of the formal photos with them, and then formal photos with your immediate family. We stop taking photos at least 30 minuets before the ceremony starts so you can tuck yourselves away, usually separately, without being seen by guests. The only formal photos we have left after the ceremony are any large family photos, which take about 30 minutes. When you do a first look everyone gets to the reception quickly and your guests aren’t sitting there waiting for two hours because guess what, we did all the photos before the ceremony! Of course it is possible to do all the photos after the ceremony but they are always rushed, which means as a photographer I’m not as creative as I could be, and you’re not getting the photos you could be! You’d also be getting photos taken when you’d rather be celebrating with your guests, which stresses you out!

“Rights to EricaM”

I sincerely hope that this helps you. Take care

P.S. You are getting married on my birthday!!!

Post # 5
2 posts

I’ve talked with my intended about this… we’re both a couple ‘a crybabies! So we’re definitely going to do the First Look so to get out all the tears before the ceremony. As for you, that depends on when you’d like to experience that moment of magic. Do you want to share it with all your guests? Or do you want it to be private?

Post # 6
5657 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2012

We did a first look and it was amazing! I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. The pictures from it always bring back a rush of emotion when I look at them. It was really nice having a private moment together where we could laugh and hug and freak out together that soon we were going to be husband and wife! Also, because we did all the photos before the ceremony we were able to enjoy our own cocktail hour. Many of our guests said they really appreciated that we were at our own party instead of vanishing right after the ceremony. πŸ™‚

Post # 7
213 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I am so excited for our first look. We plan on walking the few blocks together from the hotel I am getting ready at to the Boat we are getting married on. I love the idea of walking down the street together to the ceremony all dressed up! 

Post # 8
2869 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I am 100% not doing a first look.  I’d never even heard of them before reading this site; I definitely want his first look at me to be when I’m walking down the aisle πŸ™‚

it would definitely make the photography easier, though, since you could get couples shots before the ceremony not just after

Post # 9
6893 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012

Our First Look was hands-down one of my favorite parts of the entire DAY! The emotion captured in some of our pictures is just…honestly, it’s a bit breathtaking and helped really capture the emotion of the day for us. So I don’t threadjack, I don’t want to post them, but several of them are posted in my First Look Recaps. πŸ™‚

We cried, we hugged, we were so emotional I can’t imagine having to do that in front of everyone as I’m walking down the aisle. It wouldn’t feel intimate enough for me, so I kind of feel like maybe some of the emotion is actually lost that way as opposed to losing emotion in the ceremony because you did a first look. You don’t get to hug and tell eachother how beautiful/handsome they look as loudly or sweetly as you want because you’re in front of everyone.

It also calmed us both down, as PP referenced. Darling Husband was apparently verrrry nervous and I was getting a bit anxious and then we saw eachother…and all was right with the world after that. πŸ™‚

TRUST ME, I didn’t lack any emotion during the ceremony. I still cried while reading my Vows to Darling Husband. I got emotional walking down the aisle even though, guess what? Darling Husband was walking with me! Your wedding ceremony is special because it’s your WEDDING CEREMONY, not because you just saw eachother. Know what I mean?

Post # 10
927 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

We weren’t planning on doing a first look, but now I think we will so there isn’t such a gap between the ceremony and reception. Now that I think we will, I’m warming up to the idea. I think I won’t be so nervous if we see each other before the ceremony, and hopefully I won’t cry so much! Plus I like that you’re close so the photographer can catch both your faces/expressions in the same photo.

Post # 11
1810 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’m with Loving_life, I am 100% not doing a first look…for a few reasons really. THe only thing my Fiance requested that he does not see me before the wedding. He doesn’t want to know about my hair, my dress, my make-up..NOTHING. So of course I’ll respect his wishes.

I fall into those in the category that I feel it does take away some of the emotion..and tbh I haven’t seen any first look photos that captures the emotion that I see on a grooms face as his bride is walking down the aisle and he is seeing her for the first time all bridal like lol. I dunno I’m not very traditional but this is one tradition that I dont care to break!

And for what its worth, I haven’t heard of any brides regretting that they did a first look!

Post # 12
11172 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

I had always considered doing a first look and after going to my cousin’s wedding last week where she didn’t do one I am convinced that they are a must.

Her “moment” with her Fiance was in front of 250 people. After the ceremony we had tons of photos to take and the bride and groom never had a moment to absorb what had happened, what they looked like etc. They were rushed from one place to another for photos and missed the cocktail hour entirely. They were given very little time to themselves and it became a bit stressful.

I want that moment to be between my Fiance and myself only. I think it alleviates some of the day’s pressure and you can get some of the photos out of the way so you can enjoy the events that follow the ceremony. Besides when you walk down the aisle emotions will be running high regardless if you have seen each other before hand.

Post # 13
83 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2003

@future.mrs.c:  Glad to help. Here are 2 slideshows for you, to see what it looks like from a photographic stand point. (Not trying to promote me or the idea, just wanted to show you what it looks like)

Start at about 1:40 and you will see her walking up behind him.

Everything from 2:00 to about 3:30 was the result of the first look. 

We have done a bunch of weddings, and I really love the first look. Half of the time I am teary eyed behind the camera… The emotion is intensified, because it is just the two of you, and it is so tender and real (just look at their expressions). Big proponent.

That being said, I also respect the view of tradition, and not doing one. It is a personal choice, so just do what works for you. I guarantee, either way, your wedding day will be wonderful.

Thank you for the birthday wish!

Post # 14
2335 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

I vote no!  I don’t like first looks- I think the excitement of seeing each other as you’re walking down the aisle is diminished.  Plus, first look photos never look that exciting to me- usually just a bride tapping the groom on the shoulder and then them hugging and/or smiling at each other…  I personally think the emotion captured in ceremony pictures is far more intimate.

Post # 15
1572 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Im personally a sucker for first looks. They get me all teary eyed EVERY time. 

Post # 16
869 posts
Busy bee

@BEPhoto:  Thanks you so much for sharing this!!!  It’s helped us, too!  Thanks for your post OP! 

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