It's no secret that my favorite part of the wedding day is the first moment the bride and groom have together. A first look is when the couple gets to see each other before the ceremony.
When my clients ask me if my husband and I opted for a first look, I joyfully say yes. I have been to so many weddings, so I figured I would keep my cool all day. After all it was just another wedding. But as the time to see Adam crept closer and closer I got more and more anxious. By the time my dress was on, I was so ready to see my man. I went up the elevator and saw the back of his sweet head. I have seriously never been more nervous in my whole life. It was so surreal. I tapped his shoulder and he turned around. The look on his face is something that I will forever remember and smile about. I was so happy to be able to talk and joke with him. I loved that I was able to spend time with him, just us, for a few minutes before we were bombarded with friends and family. Now, if I had to experience all of those emotions in front of 200 pairs of eyes, I would have probably passed out.
There are so many benefits to opting for a first look, but these were the most important to me:
ENJOY. As I probably overstated before, I was a borderline wreck before I saw Adam. I was so glad that I got those initial nerves out so that I could fully enjoy our whole wedding day together. Since our ceremony was at 7 in the evening, I wouldn't have gotten to say a word to him until the day was almost over. I never wanted to ask him "Oh how was your wedding day?". We wanted to spend every moment of our day together. It was really one of the few times through the day where we were alone together.
TIMING. Scheduling a wedding day can be so tricky. A first look provides so much more time for photos. Usually if you wait until after the ceremony to do your portraits, you feel rushed and tired and ready to go to the reception. Honestly, a one-hour cocktail hour isn't enough. We have to get your portraits, your bridal party, your girls, your guys, and your family all organized. Now, if portraits aren't that important to you, that's fine, but I have my wedding portraits up all over my house. It's so much easier to plan for un-rushed time for yourself.
DAYLIGHT. Friends, natural light is the best light. Daylight can create magical photos that cannot be manufactured in photoshop. This is where we find our favorite photos. When helping my clients plan their wedding day timeline, I always plan around the sun. I want their portraits to be at the "golden hour". That's the time when the sun shines gold wonderful light and makes everyone look incredible. I want to provide the best possible photos for my clients, and that usually means gorgeous golden light. Waiting until after the ceremony pushes all of that back and we can plan accordingly, though we may be rushed for time before it gets dark.
INVESTMENT. Bottom line is you want the most bang for your buck. Trust me, you will get better photos if you plan for them. Whether that means adding an extra 45 minutes to your cocktail hour, or getting your dress on an hour early to meet your groom before the ceremony, planning is essential. I want you to enjoy your day and not feel rushed or tossed around. Yes, weddings usually run a little behind because of hair emergencies, travel complications, or a lost shoe, but the most important thing is to plan.
When it comes down to it, what a bride wants is really a reaction from the groom. I truly believe that this reaction is more genuine when it's between the two of you. That doesn't mean that the emotion is less or that the moment doesn't feel as special at the actual ceremony. In fact, maybe it's more real. You both get to fully experience the moment without anxiety. You get to see be excited. The bride gets to see her groom with excitement, not nervousness as she walks down the aisle.
By no means do I require my clients to do a first look. It's your wedding. It's your day. So YOU get to make that decision. All I want is for my clients to be happy, whether that means listening to tradition or trying something new. Some people tend to think that there are rules for weddings, but I say the only rule is to be happy.