The whole idea of a “first look” is to have a cute moment between you and your husband before the ceremony. Traditionally, couples were supposed to keep their distance from one another right up until that moment of “Here Comes The Bride” – (“It’s bad luck”, they said, “You can’t see each other before it’s time”, they said) but, at some point, somewhere along the way, a gutsy bride threw caution to the wind and said “You know what? Screw ‘bad luck’ – we’ve got a cocktail hour to get to, let’s do pictures before the ceremony.”
I don’t know if that’s how it happened. For all I know, they were doing it to be ‘romantic’ and ‘have a private moment together before becoming husband and wife’ (just the two of them and their photographer. Romantic.).
Whatever the reason – there are plenty of benefits to doing a “first look”. 1 – they’re usually really cute photos, 2 – you don’t have to ask your guests to wander around killing time for an hour and a half while you guys are taking pictures, and 3 – (this one may be the most important) depending on what time you’re getting married (and depending on the time of year – like, winter for example when it gets dark at 5pm) lighting may play a critical role. Natural light is always best when it comes to photography, and if you don’t want to have your December ceremony until 4pm – you’ve officially run out of daylight by the time it’s over. Now you have to do the rest of your photos inside against whatever-plain-wall-your-photographer-can-find to use as a backdrop.
Which is not to say that you have to do a “first look” if you’re getting married in December – no one said you have to do a “first look” at all. But if you’re reading this – you are presumably thinking about it. (Otherwise you’re just really, really bored.) So why not take some time to review the pros and cons so that you can make a well informed decision instead of doing what I did and just leaving it up to your future hubby to make the call.
“What’s a first look?” He asked when I approached him with the idea. And when I say ‘approached him with the idea’ – I mean I literally said, “Hey. Do you think we should do a first look?”
“Would you be wearing your dress?” He asked me.
There was a pause while he considered this for about fifteen seconds.
“Nah, let’s skip it.” He decided. “I’d rather wait and see you in your dress for the first time at the ceremony.”
When he said this – I agreed. He’ll be more emotional at the ceremony, I thought. Maybe he’ll even cry! That would be great! (It’s weird how the only time we want our husbands/future husbands to physically shed a tear is at time when we’re walking towards them while wearing a wedding dress.)
He didn’t cry at the ceremony. I almost did, but he didn’t. He said he got too nervous and overwhelmed by everyone watching us that he just couldn’t “get there”. I, on the other hand, was equally as nervous and overwhelmed – which I think actually brought on the tears. (The two of us react to stress and overwhelm in different ways – he turns a bit more stoic and tough, meanwhile I just start crying.)
Which brings me to my first point –
- If you’re nervous — it may not be the worst idea to have a “first look”. Seeing your partner on the day of such a big event can be a source of comfort and ease your nerves. It gives the two of you a chance to take a deep breath before the whirlwind of the day begins. Plus – wouldn’t it be nice if the first time seeing each other that day isn’t in front of all your friends and family?
- If you’re worried about timing — doing a “first look” is practical. Let’s face it. You look fantastic because you just finished getting ready so you haven’t yet cried off all of your make-up, and the sooner you get the pictures out of the way – the sooner you can go party after the ceremony. (Plus that lighting thing we talked about earlier – looking at you, October-March brides).
- If you want that “reaction” shot, but you want that picture of you walking down the aisle — I’m sure your photographer is good, but no matter how good they are, they can’t be in two places at once. Unless they have some sort of strange super powers, in which case, I’m sure they’re very expensive. Doing a “first look” can give your photographer the opportunity to get that ‘reaction shot’ before the ceremony and then the shot you want of you walking down the aisle.
- If you’re traditional — skip it! No one said you have to do a first look. Photographers may try to talk you into it because there can be some benefits to doing one, but none those outweigh the moment your groom sees you for the first time that day walking down the aisle.
As I always say, don’t forget that it’s YOUR wedding, that means YOU make the rules.