Photo Credit: @veragayazovphotography
It’s a tremendous thing to be able to walk away from your wedding weekend and say that everything was 100p - smiles on smiles on smiles. Why? Well, because, at the end of the day, very few couples actually feel that way. And that’s TOTALLY fine. Like very normal. There’s beauty in chaos and craziness, and even for the most anal retentive brides (yup 🙋🏻) and grooms, there’s something so poetic about kicking off a new chapter of life together with some hiccups along the way. It feels right. That being said, one of my biggest missed opportunities for 9.27.14 (our wedding date) was not doing a first look. And if I could turn back time, I’d really be sure to include one.
Cutest groom ever? Yaaaas. Truly, cute doesn’t even come close.
Photo Credit: Essence Photography
I'd be lying if I said this post was ENTIRELY inspired by these pictures, I can’t even deal.
It’s funny, so many people talk about first looks being a “hot button topic,” but is it really? Or should it really? Let’s all remember, again, that the wedding is about two very-in-love people who decided to do the damn thing (put those rings on it) and were so kind as to invite their closest friends and family to share in their happiness. While me and my husband thought we’d save the ‘huge unveiling’ for the church+ceremony, we never judged our peers/other people for doing a private first look. It’s up to the couple, and they should feel empowered to do what they want on their day. And if that means penciling “first look” into the teed-up wedding day timeline, then so be it!
Over lunch today, I asked one of my favorite planners, Nicole Sheppard, Owner+Visionary behind All Who Wander Event Design, whether she and her husband had done a first look and what she usually advises her brides to do when they’re thinking about the day. She relayed that she and her hubs didn’t do a first look, but that with her couples, she almost always suggests it.
Photo Credit: Hailey Pierce Photography
Having trouble deciding what you’ll do for your own day? Then just steal a peek at some of our own favorite reasons to love a first look.
It’s an opportunity to mellow out the nerves.
We don’t care howwww chill a couple you think you are, on their wedding day, everyone is a mess. There doesn’t even need to be any emergencies happening for a bride or groom to feel like the world is closing in on them as the “I Dos” draw near. And really, it’s #allofus. We all have worries at different points in our lives, so for a nearly-newlywed couple it’s just regular struggles amplified by lots more stress. That’s why having a first look can at least try to temper any tedium as a couple prepares to tie the knot. Seeing their ‘person’ in the height of their hyperventilated state can just feel like a fire has been extinguished. And rather than letting the nerves continuing to wreak havoc for the bride or groom before their ceremony, a first look can re-energize both parties. It’s no longer ‘Oh s***, I’m getting married, can we just pause for a sec, I’m not ready,’ instead it’s ‘Wow, this is really happening, and I’m so beyond excited, let’s effing do it!’
It’s actually a step OUT of the spotlight.
As someone who’s exponentially extroverted, I never worried about feeling overwhelmed or like it was too much about me on my wedding day. I welcomed the attention! That said, at a few points in the day, I really did need a minute to myself to regroup, breathe, and remember to take in all that was happening around me. And when a bride is getting ready with her bride tribe, handling vendor deliveries, giving minute-by-minute briefings to her bridal attendant, essentially getting dressed in front of at least a few people, that ‘me time’ is absolutely MIA. Given the very nature of a first look, to be private, intimate, uninterrupted, etc. it’s an amazing chance for the couple to be able to step into their own world and not feel like they’re under a microscope. Of course, the photographers and videographers are there to capture it, so there’s still a degree of unwanted attention. But these pros do this on the daily, they’ve become masters of making themselves invisible - as much as the couple wants or needs them to be.
Photo Credit: @emilysongerphoto
It’s the best way to elicit natural+truly authentic emotions.
These days, traditional, posed wedding photography is hardly the preferred. Couples are much more here for the natural and candid captures, the photojournalistic or documentary-styled approach that allows them to float through the day without a concern for how they should be looking, talking, walking, thinking, etc. And a first look celebrates and embraces that intention, to be free, unencumbered. With an on-the-aisle/ceremony first look, there’s certainly so much anticipation and build up to support+warrant a total outpouring of emotion from both people, but at the same time, there are so many distractions, too: wedding guests, cameras flashing, videographers panning around the room. Even if the couple can block all the ‘noise’ out, they still might feel like they’re doing things because they think they should. A first look, especially one that the couple can conceptualize creatively (really thinking about the place, the time, how they’ll do it), gives the pair license to react, exclaim, etc. as openly as they’d like. And unlike a wedding ceremony that’s usually rehearsed - the night or hours before - a first look isn’t directed or styled, there aren’t any expectations, so what comes of it is often pure and unadulterated emotion. True love totally unlocked!
It can actually make the aisle even more anticipated.
For those who are less-so inclined to ‘first look,’ there’s a feeling that a first look would “take something away from walking down the aisle,” says Nicole Sheppard, All Who Wanders Events. But really, “whether you have a first look or not, your walk down the aisle will stand on its own. You’ve likely never walked down the aisle before and hopefully will never again🤞, so the experience is and always will be special.” When you think of it like that, you can’t possibly be worried about dulling the shine of your ceremony. That shine is going nowhere!!
Oh! And not to mention, if you do elect to have a first look, chances are you’ll be so pumped to see your partner (in his or her absolute best) that you honestly won’t be able to wait to see them again. Nicole actually tells her brides - who opt to have a first look - that they can turn up the drama on the aisle just by adding another layer to their bridal look. “I encourage my brides to add a piece to their ensemble for their walk down the aisle. Whether they want to apply some lipstick or add a veil or headpiece, brides can still keep something a secret for their grand entrance.”
Photo Credit: @brookerobertsphoto
It can get some of portraits accomplished post-haste
And from a totally practical perspective, a first look can help couples and photographers get a lot of the newlywed shots out of the way (during daylight, too!) - and in a place that feels most comfortable, less-forced for the guests of honor. If you’re a couple who can’t bare the thought of missing cocktail hour, then a first look might be pretty appropriate for you!