If you’ve spent more than a second on any major wedding blog, you’ve probably heard the term “first look.” A first look is a special time before your ceremony during which you two have some time together. This is a time for romantic, emotional portraits of the two of you. It is free of distractions, free of other people, and can truly be one of the most meaningful moments of the day. Here are my top 5 reasons why, in my opinion, first looks are the single best things that have happened to weddings since the ChaCha slide.
1. Many of us, especially Type A personalities like me, become nervous in front of large groups of people. The pressure of being at the ceremony, wanting it to go perfectly, wanting all the perfect reactions to happen, and having so many eyes on you can cause you to hold back your emotions. When you choose to have a first look, instead of walking down the aisle thinking about whether or not your partner is crying like they should be, you can simply take in the fact that this is it. You’re getting married. This is your forever. It’s finally here. A common misconception is that first looks take away from this moment at the ceremony. I couldn’t disagree more. I think it changes it. I think it opens the moment up to new possibilities. What if you walked down the aisle, looked at your partner, and then were able to look around at your guests, absorbing every ounce of love and support that they feel for you. Perhaps you’ll interpret the moment differently. Whatever you choose to turn it into, a first look has the power to be a creative element of your wedding in more ways than one.
2. First look photos can capture the raw expression of exactly what you’re feeling that day. That precious moment can be shared by just the two of you. On a day where every detail has been planned for months and everyone is vying for your attention, you have an unscripted moment between you and the love of your life. You’re free to kiss, cry, or whatever else you want to do. There’s no order of service to a first look.
3. Simply trying to make sure that you and your partner don’t see each other before the ceremony can add pressure to an already stressful day. Who is the person who you go to when you’re stressed or nervous? Who’s the person who understands you and knows how to help you calm down? Who’s the person you always want in the room because you know they’re on your team? Who’s the person you want to celebrate with and cry with, sometimes simultaneously? Ironically, this is usually the exact person many insist on not seeing before the ceremony. By sharing that moment together earlier in the day, a first look can help you avoid an anxious, self-imposed game of hide-and-seek.
4. A first look helps the wedding day flow much smoother. Rather than taking an hour or more between the ceremony and reception to take pictures, knowing in the back of your mind that your guests are waiting hungrily, almost all of the wedding party and formal family pictures can be completed before the ceremony. With the exception of some quick golden hour portraits (question mark) (heart eyes), you can go straight from your ceremony to your reception! Your celebration flows seamlessly, and the occasion doesn’t lose any momentum.
5. By the end of the ceremony, you and your bridal party have endured emotions, wind, and sun – among other things. There’s a good possibility that by your cocktail hour, you’ve got a trail of mascara down your face, a couple bobby pins out of place, or maybe some inconvenient sweat stains. We’re humans. It happens. But, doing a first look provides an opportunity for everyone to be captured looking their best, while hair and makeup are still fresh and in place. Family and bridal party portraits can be done following the alone time between you and your partner, everyone can head inside to freshen up for 15 minutes, and then you can head to your ceremony still looking fabulous. Everyone wins!
Here are some of the cons of doing a first look:
1. It breaks tradition.
I’m only halfway kidding. There are so many other wonderful opportunities throughout a wedding day to honor tradition. My goal is simply to provide you with a different perspective of a first look and help you consider its practical and emotional advantages. I hope this is helpful to you as you decide what your wedding will look like from beginning to end!