OKAY. Here’s the deal, y'all. First looks are amazing. "WHY?” you ask.
As a wedding photographer AND a bride-to-be, I'm going to explain why I’m choosing to share a first look with my man on our very own wedding day (and why I think you should consider one, too!).
1.You've got me feelin' emotions
I would consider myself an emotional person. Everyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m going to be so happy and so excited on our wedding day, but I will probably cry my eyes out when I see my groom for the first time. I really, reaaaaaallllllly don’t want to ugly cry my way down the aisle during my wedding and have my makeup ruined for my entire ceremony and all my family photos. I always try to explain to expressive brides, like me, that a first look could be their LIFESAVER. Every single time a couple chooses to do a first look, they thank me afterwards and say, “I feel SO much better now. I’m so glad we did that.” They are then able to enter their ceremony incredibly happy with minimal jitters because they’ve already seen and hugged their love and experienced all those first reactions privately, before anyone else. I’ve never, EVER had a client say, “Man, I wish we wouldn’t have done a first look.” It’s always the other way around!
2. Light my fire
When planning my own wedding, I chose both our venues and our ceremony time based on one thing and one thing only - LIGHT. I knew that I wanted our photographer to have ample sunlight to use throughout our wedding day, rain or shine, so I chose venues with lots of lots of windows. (Now, we can't control EVERYTHING, and if record-breaking stormclouds move through Texas on April 16th, the light may not be quite what I'm envisioning...but, I know that I've done everything in my power to give my photographer as much light as possible to work with all day long...including the choice to share a first look.)
Some people think that couples choose to do a first look because of those few photos of the groom's reaction after seeing his bride for the very first time. Now, let's pause. This is a really sweet moment, y'all. I lose my breath when a bride and groom turn and face each other for the very first time after a lifetime of waiting. It's amazing. Those photos are great, and all photographers should try their absolute best to document that experience in all its glory.
But the REAL reason most couples choose to do a first look (and why so many wedding photographers like to pitch the idea) is because of what that first look allows you to do before the actual wedding ceremony. When couples choose to do a first look, I am more likely to create all their portraits (and those of their wedding party) with the help of gorgeous natural light. As we plan for your wedding, I will write a timeline based on the time of your ceremony to ensure that all the portraits are captured with the help of natural light, no matter the time of year or the weather. If you've looked around my site, you've probably noticed that I work primarily with natural light. I shoot plenty of receptions with the use of flash, but I like to structure each wedding I shoot around naturally-lit portraits. These are my strong suit. You will not regret allowing me the time of day to use natural light for the photos you’ll look back on for the rest of your life.
3. You're a smooth operator
We are using two separate locations on our wedding day: a chapel for the ceremony, and a party barn for the reception. After the ceremony is complete, we will send the guests to the reception, and our families will stay behind for a few family photos. If we were not planning to share a first look, we would then have to take photos with the wedding party before having the chance to take any photos of just the two of us. Our guests would have to wait a long time before we would join them at the party.
When couples choose to share a first look, the transition from their wedding ceremony to their reception is seamless. Of course, family photos (and possibly just a couple “married" bride and groom portraits) are sandwiched in between, but then the couple is able to enter their reception, forget the to-do list, and party the night away. Without a first look, the guests may be at the reception for an hour-and-a-half before the newly married couple is introduced (and that's if their photographer is booking it). Guests attend weddings to see the bride and groom, and they often get impatient during this in-between time…especially if they're waiting to be fed.
I’ve had wedding planners and guests tap me on the shoulder during bride and groom portraits to ask how much longer I was going to take before letting them enter the reception simply because they passed on the opportunity for a first look, and we were being pressed for time. To me, the photos of the bride and groom are THE most important photos of the entire day. Yes, all the details totally matter, and they make for GREAT photos. But you’re hiring me to photograph the day you and your love become husband and wife. There should be so many pictures of the two of you that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Limiting the amount of light or the time I have to work with to photograph the two of you is compromising the product you hired me to produce. You may not get as many photos as you might like, and, if you're having a later ceremony, there is a big possibility that your portraits won’t be naturally lit.
4. You are the only exception
Now. Let's chat. If you've dreamed ever since you were a little girl about your groom seeing you for the very first time as you walk down the aisle, the idea of a first look may be really, really hard to get used to. And guess what? If you decide that a first look is just not for you, you shouldn't feel pressured to change your mind. (Heck, sometimes it's the groom who won't budge!) And that's okay. Listen to your photographer, whether it's me or someone else. Take everything I've written into consideration and weigh the options. Make the best decision for YOU. Carve out a specific time on your wedding day to get the kind of bride and groom photos you want (whether it's before or after the ceremony), and protect it. Those bride and groom photos should be a huge priority on your wedding day, and nothing should compromise that. Set realistic expectations for your photographer and your wedding day timeline if you choose to forego a first look. Have appetizers ready or open the buffet for your guests as soon as they arrive. Allow your wedding party to go in and eat before the two of you are introduced. Protect that bride and groom portrait session by planning ahead to make sure your guests are taken care of in that in-between time.
You hired your photographer for a reason. You saw something in their work that you wanted. Give them the time and space that they need to do what they do, and I'm sure you'll walk away feeling so much more confident about your photos and your overall wedding experience.