One of the biggest decisions our #eurekabrides make regarding their wedding day is whether or not a first look is right for them. The first look is where we set the groom in a secluded location to wait for his bride. Then, his bride walks up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. With that tap, or call of his name, the groom turns around to see his bride for the first time on their wedding day. They take however long they need to embrace one another, tell each other what’s going through their mind at that very moment, laugh with each other in excitement that they’re FINALLY getting married, cry together, and pray with one another. No one is watching them. They don’t have spectators that they feel they have to act a certain way in front of. Their true emotions are allowed to be freely and fully expressed. This is also usually their only time to be alone together on their wedding day and it allows both of them to get rid of some of the nerves/jitters they’re experiencing. After the first look, they’re both in the perfect mood for romantic portraits. These are the same portraits that the newlyweds hang on their walls for friends and family to admire for decades to come.
After those favorite photos are taken, we invite the bridal party out for their portraits. The bridesmaids like that their hair and make-up is fresh and the groomsmen love that they’re free after the ceremony to enjoy cocktail hour with their date. No one is waiting on the bride and groom to start dinner; no one is doing time checks making the couple feel rushed; no one is spectating, as the guests haven’t arrived yet for the ceremony. Some couples choose to even include family photos before the ceremony, as well. After those, the bride is hidden away 30 minutes before the ceremony to re-touch make-up while guests are seated. (It’s those same 30 minutes that we use to photograph the reception details.) With all portraits taken before the ceremony, the couple can take a few “just married” portraits immediately after the ceremony. Then, they’re free to enjoy their own cocktail hour with their guests and mingle with their loved ones or they can get their party started early. With this second portrait time on the wedding day, our couples who include a first look are getting close to TWICE as many romantic portraits than our couples who don’t. I did the math on all the weddings we’ve shot so far this year and those with a first look get, on average, 78% more romantic images. WOW!
Even with all these benefits (more romantic portraits, more time to enjoy their own party, an honest moment alone with each other on their wedding day, and a chance to fully embrace and react to what they’re about to do), some couples get strong resistance to the first look from their loved ones (most often, parents). This doesn’t make sense to me, as I would expect parents to want their friends and family to fully enjoy their cocktail hour (and not have to wait an hour or more for portraits after the ceremony) and get the party (that they may have helped pay for) started as soon as possible. By being supportive of the bride and groom’s choice to include a first look, the parents can get the most bang for their buck with not only photography, but with their venue rental time and their entertainment (DJ or Band) by extending the day. Their reasoning for being against a first look is that if the groom sees the bride before the wedding, it will be “bad luck” for their future together. However, I’m not sure they know the origin of that superstition.
When marriages were arranged, the groom wouldn’t be able to see the bride until after the vows were exchanged, so it would be too late for him to bolt if the bride wasn’t attractive. The veil covered the bride’s face until just before the first kiss, so the groom had no idea what she looked like. Once the veil was lifted, the vows had already been made, so it was too late for the groom to run if he didn’t find his new wife pretty enough. If the bride and groom have met, which I KNOW they have – since we photographed their engagement session, this tradition is already out the window! If the groom has already seen the bride and still proposed, there is no fear of him running when the veil is lifted because she isn’t pretty enough – promise! That won’t be a surprise for him in that moment.
If you’re wondering what other couples have experienced and if they’d recommend it or not, read below to see what past brides AND GROOMS have to say about their first look experience.
Hector: “I would recommend doing a first look because I thought it was a really sweet moment I had with my soon to be wife. I was able to let out most of my emotions in a private setting instead of in front of a full audience. I would not change my decision to do a first look because the day was beyond perfect and having that one on one moment was one I will forever cherish.”
Kayla: “I would highly recommend doing a first look. At first I was hesitant to agree, because I was scared that I would lose the classic “first reaction” pictures from Hector seeing me walk down the aisle for the first time. I was definitely wrong on that because we now have pictures of the two of us during a moment that will forever be close to my heart. Having that one on one time before the ceremony to let out the wedding day jitters was exactly what we both needed. When I think about our big day, the first look was definitely one of the highlights because it was a moment I was able to spend with just my soon to be husband and let reality soak in. The day went by so fast but the first look is a moment we will always remember.”
You can see Kayla and Hector’s Blush Wedding at Twisted Ranch by clicking that link.
Haley: “Ethan and I initially planned to see one another for the first time at the altar on our wedding day. Friends and family had warned us “it wouldn’t be the same” if we saw one another before hand, and besides, we had planned to keep it traditional. We quickly changed our minds shortly after meeting with Mylah the first time and we are so glad we did! The first look did not take anything away from seeing one another as I walked down the aisle. It created a completely separate (but equally as sweet!) moment that we will look back on and smile for years to come! And in case you are wondering, yes, there were tears for both the first look AND at the altar. It was so special to be able to pray together have a moment to ourselves (actually, the only moment we had to ourselves all day). It instantly washed away all nerves and anxiety. Not to mention, Mylah captured some pretty amazing photos during this time and it was also a big stress-relief time wise to take bridal party photos prior to the ceremony. If we could go back in time, we wouldn’t change a thing!”
Ethan: “I couldn’t imagine changing our decision to have a first look. Not only was it a gut wrenching wait for Haley to walk down the stairs and a rush of emotions upon so (and I’m not an emotional guy) It was a humbling experience being able to invite God into our hearts with prayer before we became one in marriage.
One might assume that a first look takes away from the divine feeling or such when each other’s eyes meet for the first time during the ceremony. I’ll be the first one to tell you, it doesn’t.
Seeing the woman of my dreams that God has prepared for me walking down the aisle, accompanied by our close family and friends… It is absolutely still an overwhelming rush of holiness and grace. It was like we hadn’t seen each other before at all. Either way, first look or not, that moment when you know a step towards gods plan is at work- it is just pure happiness.”
You can see Haley and Ethan’s Rustic Ranch Wedding in Wimberley, Texas by clicking that link.
Mandy: “I love the idea of the fist look. It’s a chance for you and your future husband to have a moment with just the two of you. All those emotions you have when you first see each other is done just between the two of you (and the photographers, of course ;) ) For my husband, he was a bundle of emotions and everyoneeee tells me that the first look was his life jacket. For me, all the anxiety/apprehension from planning the wedding was gone, but for my husband it was all rolled into those hours before we saw each other. Also, the first look is a great way to get pictures done ahead of time so that you can be with your guests for cocktail hour/most of the reception. All of our guests traveled from around the country and being able to spend the entire cocktail hour greeting and catching up with them was amazing. Since we greeted everyone at the cocktail hour, we were able to enjoy the reception without having to go table to table.
I wouldn’t change a moment of our wedding.”
Chris: “Doing the first look was the best idea ever! I loved being able to finally see my wife for the first time that day. The day of the wedding I was really rushed, nervous, and could not calm down but seeing her made everything better and made the ceremony a lot easier on me. I have actually told a few future grooms that I highly recommend doing the first look. I wouldn’t change anything about our wedding day and especially the first look.”
(His initial response was “Just do it!” and I share those exact same sentiments!)
Chris and Mandy’s Pecan Springs Ranch wedding with Vintage details can be found by clicking that link.
Sarah: “Jeff and I loved the first look, because of the first look we were able to spend more time actually enjoying our reception with family and friends. Jeff said he felt we got to enjoy this moment privately and able to talk to each other during the special time. I would tell anyone thinking about doing a first look that it was a magical moment I will never forget.”
Sarah and Jeff’s Carriage Hills Ranch Wedding Photos are on the blog, as well! Click that link to check them out!
If you’re interested in what even more #eurekabrides and grooms have to say about their first look experience, be sure to check out First Look Benefits, Why We Love First Looks, and Why You Should Do a First Look on Your Wedding Day. These couples have experienced a first look first-hand and are sharing their insight with you!
– Mylah Renae