One of my favorite parts of my own wedding day was mine and Justin’s first look. Getting married in November almost requires a first look of you if you want any bridal party photos while it’s still light out, but I would have chosen to do one anyway.
Being able to see each other before the ceremony was the best. We exchanged and read our letters that we had written for one another. We embraced and cried and kissed and talked, and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Doing a first look didn’t take away from my walk down the aisle in the least. Walking down the aisle on your wedding day is a moment that’s filled to the brim with anticipation and emotions, and seeing Justin beforehand didn’t change that. I’ve never experienced the kind of emotions I felt during that walk, and I can’t imagine it being any bigger or better than it was had we not seen one another.
First looks sometimes get tossed aside without any consideration. I’ve seen weddings go down both ways several times at this point, and I have to say I’d choose the first look time and time again. Here are five reasons why.
When you see each other for the first time at the altar, you really can’t say much. Maybe your groom will tell you how beautiful you look under his breath, but he can’t embrace you and REALLY tell you how beautiful you look. He can’t tell you how he’s SO thrilled to see you after waiting all day. He can’t spin you around to see all of the details of your dress – you know the one you’ve been hiding from him for months. He just has to stand there and smile and maybe shed a few tears.
When you see each other for the first time during a first look, it’s a whole new ballgame. He can definitely embrace you. He can fall into you and bury his tear-covered face in your shoulder while he tells you just how amazing you look and how thrilled he is to be marrying you. He can slowly spin you in a circle while he admires every inch of your wedding gown. Oh, and did I mention you can talk? Because you can. You can talk all. you. want.
If you’re waiting until the wedding ceremony to see one another so that you can get a grandiose, emotional reaction out of your groom as you walk down the aisle, you may be doing it wrong. I mean, there’s no pressure like all of your friends and family looking to you to see how you react as your bride walks down the aisle. Is he going to cry? Smile? Get teary-eyed? What’s going to happen?! They’re all looking to your groom to find out, and it’s likely that he’ll feel that pressure.
During the first look, it’s quite the opposite dynamic. It’s the two of you. Well, and your wedding photographer, of course, but he or she should stay a comfortable distance from you. There’s no audience; no expectations. The pressure is off, and you are both free to react in whatever way you see fit.
In relation to that, the pressure is also off when you walk down the aisle. If your groom was going have an emotional reaction without doing a first look, he’s definitely going to have one now. He doesn’t feel the pressure to perform, because everyone knows he’s already seen you. You’ve spent the afternoon together with your best friends and family. He’s more relaxed and more likely to let his emotions show.
When you don’t see each other until the ceremony, you basically force yourself to cram all of your bridal party, bride and groom and family photos into one window of time between the ceremony and reception. You’re either on a dead run trying to get all of the photos you need in a short window of time, or you’re making your guests wait and entertain themselves for hours while you’re being photographed. Either way, it can create stress and take away from the joy of your day.
This stress multiplies if you’re dealing with an early sunset or inclement weather. The sun set around 4:30 on mine and Justin’s wedding day. If we would’ve foregone a first look, we would have either had to have had a super early ceremony, inconveniencing our guests, or we would have had a small (and stressful) window to fit all of our outdoor photos into.
And then if it happens to rain on your wedding day, you’ve really put yourself in a corner. Maybe it’ll be nice and sunny before your ceremony and then downpour afterwards or vice versa. Either way, you’ve only given yourself one good window of opportunity for non-rainy wedding photos. There’s no way you can know months in advance what the weather will be like on your wedding day. But giving yourself some flexibility to work around the weather will definitely ease your stress levels.
Your friends and family are spending their precious time and money to come celebrate with you. Being considerate of that is important. Foregoing a first look means you have to create a large window of time between the ceremony and reception in order to allow the proper amount of time for all of the wedding photos.
This can result in your guests giving up nearly their entire day for your wedding. It can mean paying for an extra night of lodging for your guests who are flying in or driving a long distance to attend your wedding. If your ceremony is set to start at 1:30 and cocktail hour doesn’t start until 5:30, think about that awkward window of time that you’re asking people to fill – especially your out of town guests who can’t go home.
Side note: this usually results in your guests visiting the local watering hole and showing up to your reception a tad sloshed. Remember that.
Do you know how many times you and your soon-to-be husband will actually be alone on your wedding day? Pretty much not at all until the reception has ended. That is unless you do a first look. Your wedding day will go by so fast. If you don’t intentionally set aside time to spend alone, it won’t happen.
Doing a first look is the perfect opportunity for this, and quite possibly your only opportunity for this. Take advantage of it. You’re about to make a pretty huge and awesome commitment to one another. Give yourselves a few minutes to spend alone together before you walk into it. Remind yourselves of that incredible love that you share and just be with your person for a few minutes on one of the best, craziest and most wonderful days of your lives.
If it’s not incredibly clear at this point, I’ll just say this: I’m a big fan of first looks. The intimacy, flexibility and emotions they allow can’t be beat by a walk down the aisle in my opinion. That being said, I would never in a million years force a couple to do a first look if they were adamantly against it. Some people know what they want and can’t be swayed, and that’s fine.
But educating yourselves on your options and opening your mind to other possibilities is extremely important when you’re planning your wedding day. So don’t kick the first look to the curb without really thinking about it. It may end up being the best part of your day with your favorite person ever.