The first time a couple sees each other on their wedding is an unforgettable experience, whether that be walking down the aisle surrounded by family and friends, or in a private, intimate moment apart from the crowds. It's the moment at which everything becomes real, and wedding day jitters melt into relief and joy. It hits you that this marriage thing is really happening, you are both dressed in your best for one another, and you are ready!
Whether or not to see one another privately before the ceremony by doing a first look is a very personal decision, and your choice may be influenced by your personalities, preferences, as well as your wedding day timeline. Below are a few pros and cons of doing a first look that may be helpful in making a decision.
-First looks give the two of you a private, intimate moment to take everything (and each other!) in for the first time on your wedding day. You don't have any audience, so you can react however you wish without fear of anybody else watching. Weddings feature a lot of non-stop action, so it can be refreshing to be able to take a few quiet moments alone together before walking down the aisle. For these reasons some couples may opt to exchange gifts or even vows during their first look.
-First looks can often save time during your wedding day and allow you more opportunities to mingle with your guests later on. Without a first look, bridal party and couple portraits are typically done after the ceremony and during cocktail hour, so by doing a first look and these portraits ahead of time, you are able to join your reception sooner. This can be especially useful for fall and winter weddings when there may not be any sunlight left for outdoor portraits by the late afternoon.
-First looks give the two of you more time together as a couple overall throughout your wedding day. Once you see each other, you can shift your focus to fully enjoying each other's company, beginning earlier in the day than you might otherwise. First looks can also provide an extra memorable moment to reflect on when reminiscing about your wedding day, and they generally provide you with more time around your full bridal party as well.
-Modern first looks break with the long-held tradition of a couple not seeing each other until walking down the aisle in the wedding ceremony. If this tradition is part of your ideal vision for your wedding, then seeing each other before your ceremony may impact the enthusiasm you each are feeling in that moment.
-For some couples, seeing each other for the first time is not just about themselves, but also their friends and family. If you want to share your first look with your wedding guests, you may wish to wait until walking down the aisle. Being able to share the joy of seeing each other with your loved ones can make it all the more heartfelt and exciting.
-Doing a first look front-loads your wedding day timeline, which can lead to more wear and tear on outfits and hairstyles before the ceremony. If you choose to do a first look and bridal party portraits before your ceremony, you or a bridal party member may need a few moments to re-pin hair or remove a minor grass stain before walking down the aisle in front of your guests. (We always budget for a half hour break before your ceremony to do just this, if needed!) This can be a particular concern if it's very rainy or hot outside.
Can't decide? Many couples opt to do a first touch around a corner without seeing each other, or a first look with a family member instead of their spouse-to-be. Choosing one of these alternatives can be a great way to incorporate an extra intimate moment and calm nerves without affecting the traditional walk down the aisle.
No matter what you decide, seeing one another for the first time on your wedding day will be a moment to forever be cherished. There is no right or wrong way to plan your wedding, so be sure to choose the option that feels right for both of you. While most photographers are a bit partial to first looks (it gives us more time for photography, after all!), we will work with you no matter what you decide and make sure to schedule ample time for portraits either way.