So you are planning your wedding and you’ve heard the term ‘first look’ and you’re asking yourself, what is a ‘first look’ anyway?
In a nutshell, it is the moment where you, as a bride or groom, are fully ready for your wedding day and see someone you love for the first time after that. Usually it is an intimate moment between people and only your photographer or videographer are present. I like to use a telephoto portrait lens so your moment is authentic.
The focus is usually on the reaction, but a second shooter can often capture the alternate angle.
WHO IS A FIRST LOOK WITH?
Anyone you would like to share the special moment with. The tradition is between the bride and groom, however there are lots of popular alternatives or add ons to the day, its just a matter of scheduling it into the day, see further down for average times for this to happen.
BRIDE + GROOM
DADDY + DAUGHTER
BRIDE + BRIDESMAIDS
As a joke, the groom wanted photos to match his bride-to-be, so in some cases for those who just want fun, a groom and his groomsmen. As a note, Carolyn and Kellan may have been one of the funnest and funniest weddings I’ve ever shot. Click the images to see more of these weddings.
WHEN DOES THE FIRST LOOK TAKE PLACE
It doesn’t matter who you are doing a first look with, it will be BEFORE the ceremony. This is somewhat nontraditional, but becoming more and more trendy. I love the first look and it’s fast become one of my favourite parts of a wedding day for several reasons.
As bride you may dream of your groom’s reaction as you gracefully glide down the aisle… a tear slides down his cheek at the first sight of you…Well gals, do not fear. I’ve seen grooms cry in a first look and still lose it when you come down that isle.
Some couples love “traditions” … but what a bride really wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is a reaction. Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. What I know from experience is that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and groom – especially if you aren’t used to being the centre of attention. The whole day is focused on you both. You’re trying to look your best. You’re needing to be on time. Your groom likely has no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to go on and little by little… the tension can grow.
Before the ceremony, the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in and your calm, collected groom who was laughing with his groomsmen just a few short hours ago is now starting to feel a little anxious. It’s usually all hidden but the nerves are there. Then he finds himself in front of anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. It’s all getting VERY REAL.
This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful. Walking down the aisle is one of the best parts of your wedding day. It’s magical! … But when you walk down the aisle… should the groom be a nervous wreck?
What if, instead, he was in a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions and his beautiful bride, the love of his life, comes to him. He turns around and finally gets his first look at his stunning bride. He doesn’t just get to see her; he can embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and enjoy that moment with her for as long as they want. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. Now all that tension can burst in genuine smiles and romantic portraits while the two of you bask in the moment.
WHY DO A FIRST LOOK AND WHY ITS WORTH IT
40% MORE PORTRAITS
You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive around 40% more portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you can decorate your home with, not to mention populating your heirloom wedding album. With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money. I usually go out for more portraits at sunset too.
ENJOY THE SURPRISE FREELY
You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Most brides don’t realise that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
EXTEND YOUR DAY BY 3 HOURS
First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours. Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your best friends on your wedding day. The whole first half of my client’s wedding albums are filled with images just from this time together before the ceremony.
YOUR ONLY ALONE TIME
First Looks allow you to be together and alone on your wedding day. It is an intimate bubble you get before the rush of family and friends who will be dying to speak to you later. You can cry and laugh and cry some more. Your emotions are real as we head into romantic portraits and the joyful mood doesn’t need to be faked. Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals, and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode… especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re ready to love on each other, and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments.
You get rid of your nerves! I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have decided to do a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms who initially weren’t a fan of the first look… but afterwards they admitted to being so much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony. Sometimes they even have their own surprises to share…
LAST TIP: MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Brides – if you have never seen your man cry or get emotional, you can’t expect him to be overly emotional on your wedding day. Some guys just embrace their brides and never cry and that’s just fine. Some guys show very little emotion when their bride is coming down the aisle and that’s okay too. Just enjoy this amazing day and try not to put any expectations on him. If you take this advice to heart, I could potentially be saving you a lot of disappointment on your day. One thing I’ve noticed after shooting lots of weddings is that the stress and nerves that come with a wedding day can some- times make it hard for some grooms to truly express their emotions. It’s just a lot to take in all at once. This is a great reason to share a first look and also a great reason to give some grace to your guy. Sure, you deserve to feel beautiful, but my encouragement to you is to enjoy this time together, no matter what his reaction is like.
I always recommend adding a first look with anyone on your day, especially your fiancé, but if you really believe in bad luck before the ceremony, I am always happy to honour that. After all this is YOUR day, it should be just the way you want it.
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