Wedding Tip Wednesday: Should You Do a First Look?

Wedding traditions are something that many people hold sacred – and for good reason! On a day that will forever change two peoples’ lives, it is understandable to want to uphold certain traditions that generations before us have observed.

One of the oldest and most well-known wedding traditions is where, on the wedding day, the bride and groom don’t see each other until during the ceremony, when the bride walks down the aisle toward her groom.

What many people don’t know about the tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony is, this “tradition” actually began as a wedding superstition during the days of arranged marriages. If you were a father of a betrothed bride, it is likely that your daughter’s upcoming wedding was a carefully crafted business deal. And as such, you wanted to do everything you could to protect that deal, including keeping the groom from seeing your daughter until the last possible minute so that he didn’t have an opportunity to back out of the deal. Isn’t that just the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard?!

Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more common for couples to forego this tradition in exchange for what we in the industry call a “First Look.” That’s when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony in what is usually a private and emotional moment.

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When I meet with new clients for the first time, many of them are still on the fence as to whether not they’ll have a First Look. So, I thought today I would explore the new tradition so that if you’re on the fence, you can be better informed and decide what will work best for you and your wedding day.

These are just my opinions and if you decide not to do a first look, that’s just great! I’ve shot many, many weddings where the couple waited to see each other and everything worked out just fine. It is completely OK to NOT do a First Look. It’s your day and you do what you want! But here are a few reasons why a couple might opt for a First Look on their wedding day.

More Time = Less Stress
The most popular reason for a First Look is time. When a couple sees each other before the ceremony, it opens up the schedule for photos so much that it is often possible for most, if not all, of the posed photos (wedding party, romantics of the couple, family photos) to be finished up before the ceremony starts and the guests arrive. What this means is you’re no longer forced to fit all of those photos into a one hour time period (also known as the cocktail hour), AND you, the couple, get to actually mingle with your guests and enjoy cocktail hour with them. Now, think about what not being rushed to take hundreds of photos in one hour might feel like. Like a breath of fresh air, right? I’m guessing if you had your choice, you’d rather be stress-free and by your honey’s side all day, as opposed to stressed out and pressed for time.

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It’s Your Wedding Day, Enjoy it Together
And while we’re on the topic of being by your beloved’s side, think about this: By the time of your wedding day you will have spent a countless amount of time and a whole lot of money making sure the day is just to your liking. So doesn’t it make sense to actually enjoy the majority of that day together? If you wait to see each other until the ceremony, you will be spending more than half of your wedding day apart. I’m no math expert but that just doesn’t feel as warm and fuzzy to me as spending most of your wedding day together.

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Let It All Sink In
A typical worry that some couples may have when considering a First Look is that it will take away from the emotion of the ceremony. If you’ve already seen your bride or groom, then what kind of suspense, emotion and thrill is left for that walk down the aisle? Well, to put it bluntly: a lot. I’ve photographed around 200 weddings at this point in my career and I can honestly say that there has not been a single First Look that took away an ounce of emotion from the ceremony. In fact, it probably added to it because the First Look is something entirely different than those last few steps that the bride takes before a couple commits themselves to one another forever. I get chills just thinking about it.

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Whatever you decide to do on your wedding day, know that it’s going to be wonderful and emotional! Just don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

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