As I got out of the car and approached the gazebo, I saw my future husband standing up there with his back facing towards me. Though I couldn’t see his face, I could tell he was a bit nervous by his posture… and truth be told, I was nervous too. The excitement was building. I was getting closer. I stopped for a second to take to take it all in. The day had felt a little crazy up until this moment. It hadn’t started as smooth as I had hoped for. I was feeling a little anxious from all of the movement and people and opinions… but that moment… away from everybody except for him… it was ours. Me and him.
I took a deep breath and on the exhale, I ascended the stairs leading up to him. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion and as he turned around, I couldn’t help but cry from pure joy. Though my photographers were there to document this moment, it felt like no one else was around. This first look was meant to be private. Just for us. Just to take in and process through all of the emotions. It was so special. And though I initially thought it would ruin that iconic first look moment in the church, it didn’t. And at the end, I was so grateful to have shared that private moment (one of the only private moments we had together) on our wedding day.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a recently engaged friend of mine and the topic of First Looks came up. She expressed that she didn’t want the emotion of that moment as she was walking down the aisle to be ruined because her and her fiancé had already seen each other beforehand. And I know a lot brides think the same thing! I did too. Most of the times, brides don’t know what to expect or aren’t aware of what a First Look prior to the ceremony actually entails and all of the advantages that actually come with it! I know I didn’t at first. But after having experienced a First Look myself, and having several friends who have as well… I’m here to promise you that your special moment will not be ruined. If anything, the experience will be so much better and much more special because of it.
My job as a wedding photographer is to not only take beautiful images that represent your wedding day in the best possible way, but also to educate, love, encourage and communicate with my couples every step of the way so that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations and the general flow of the day. My ultimate desire is to protect your investment and make sure that I am able to honor the vision you had for your wedding day. I want to be able to provide you with more images for you to be able to pass down and share with your future family. I want to help make your day go as smoothly as it can and truth be told, First Looks really are instrumental in that!
Let me first explain what a First Look really is. This specific section in your timeline is a dedicated moment prior to the ceremony where the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time instead of waiting until the walk down the aisle. Usually, it’s in a quiet area near the Getting Ready location for easy transitions (but can be done anywhere) where the two of you start your day together with a private moment that is unobtrusively photographed (by your photographer only). This is usually one of the few moments you get to be alone, just the two of you, to soak it all in.
Now, earlier I mentioned the timeline. And one of the most important steps in organizing the wedding day is the timeline. It is what helps keep the day running smoothly. Organizing, planning and making sure you have enough time for everything is always a struggle. Things don’t always work out as planned. And trust me, the last thing you want to sacrifice is portrait time. After all, this dedicated portrait time is what is going to give you the photos that you’ll hang around your house and put into picture frames and share with your future family! If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have chosen to re-work the timeline in order to accommodate more portrait time and skip some other areas.
This is why I will always advocate for doing a First Look! But, if you are still on the fence or even still convinced that you are against it… give me a chance to share with you the reasons why I think you should at least consider it.
- Privacy. Like I mentioned before, this moment is for the TWO of you. I want to capture the raw emotion… the smiles, the hugs, the crying, the intimate moment you get to share together! Just you two. If you think about it, you don’t get that when you walk down the aisle… there, you have to share that with everyone else. Plus, you have to wait until you’re announced husband and wife to hug and kiss. But with a first look? That is YOUR moment. It’s private. There aren’t hundreds of pairs of eyes on you as you’re crying and telling each other what you love about each other. It’s a moment to feel relaxed and to forget the stresses you’ve built up in your head about the day. Take a deep breath. This is why you’re here… why we’re all here today, you’re marrying your best friend and you deserve those moments of peace before the rest of the day. It might be just the thing you need to let your nerves go. It certainly did for me! Seeing my now husband before the ceremony helped calm me down and after looking back and having shared our day with 200 guests, it was really nice to just have those moments with him before saying our I Do’s.
- Unexpected Weather. Maybe the sunny afternoon sky that you were planning for all day is unexpectedly all of a sudden looking dark and stormy towards the late afternoon. It would be in your best interest to take as many photos as possible at the beginning of the day. So if you can be flexible with the timeline, you’ll be able to have great photos outdoors with beautiful natural light.
- You can have fun and enjoy yourselves! You’ve spent so much time planning your wedding. All your family and friends will be gathered to celebrate you two getting married!! I want you to ENJOY it! I want you to be able to go to your reception party and without the last thing on your mind being “UGH… we have to do pictures now?” You should be able to enjoy the party you spent months planning for!
- More photos. A First Look not only leaves you free to fully enjoy your reception, but also allows us dedicated time to capture more images in beautiful light than just quick portraits. We have plenty of time to get fun candids of your friends and family as well. If I regret one thing the most about my day, it would be not getting enough photos done of just the two of us. Having our first look moment captured helped to really fill out the day since other intimate portrait time was missed due to my poor planning.
I hope by now you see that doing a First Look does not mean giving up that magical moment when you see each other for the first time. You’re simply doing it in a different way. A way that actually lets you soak up that moment for much longer. The walk down the aisle happens so fast and in front of ALL of your friends and family, but the First Look gives the two of you 15 minutes to really take it all in without any pressure. And it makes the walk down the aisle so much better. Your heart will still beat out of your chest when you two lock eyes – I promise, I’ve seen it happen with my couples and my friends. It happened to me. You’ll have so many more beautiful images of the two of you to share and remember the day by and in the end, isn’t that why you’ve hired a photographer to document your special day? You want to be able to share those images of the two of you with your family. You want your future children to see how in love you were on your wedding day and talk to them about how special everything was. You want to leave behind a beautiful legacy for your grandchildren to witness and cherish. And what better way to ensure that you’re able to do that by having more dedicated time for portraits during a First Look?
Here are a few more from my wedding day 3 three years ago <3
To view part 2 of this series, click here: 3 Reasons Why Bridal Details Are So Important (and how to best prepare them)
** All photographs from my wedding day were taken by Melissa Young Photography **