When you think about seeing your groom for the first time, your mind probably jumped straight to the ceremony.
But what if you saw each other before the ceremony?
“Wait – WHAT?!” I hear you saying.
This is where I start to lose people - “…but what about that moment where he sees me for the first time as I walk down the aisle?” they ask me. First looks are 100% Pure Awesome, but not everyone is aware of how awesome they are because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is, or worry that it’s bad luck.
But can we break that down?
WHERE DOES THIS TRADITION EVEN COME FROM?
It's pretty fair to say that marriage has evolved a lot over time - and when you think about it, marriages have mostly been an arrangement by the parents of the groom and bride for social and political gains; and it's only in the last hundred years or so that it has become more popular to make a "love match".
Back in the day, the bride did no often see the groom until the day of their wedding (and she also wore a veil until after the ceremony was legal, so the groom couldn't back out if he thought she was ugly).
How romantic is THAT?!
Obviously these traditions have changed over time, and these aren't the reasons we use now for wearing veils (they are kind of romantic) or for seeing each other at the ceremony
SO WHY DO WE STILL FOLLOW THIS TRADITION?
After experiencing my own wedding and talking to my brides ... I’ve come to the conclusion that what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is that REACTION.
People usually think that by seeing each other before the ceremony, 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 – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
LET ME SET THE SCENE FOR YOU..
We often romanticise weddings, and while they can be emotional and romantic and fun and happy days - they can also be stressful, nerve-wracking and full of pressure and expectations.
So picture this...
Your wedding day is here, you are surrounded by your girls and being pampered with hair and makeup artists doing their thing - while your groom has spent all day waiting to see you.
Sure, he might be cracking jokes, but now he's starting to feel a little anxious. It seems like the day has taken FOREVER - especially if your ceremony is in the later afternoon, that’s a whole day of anxious anticipation!
Finally, you've arrived and are about to walk down the aisle, and what does he find? He finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where?
Right at his face… (and at you) because everyone has their own expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment.
SO, HOW DOES A FIRST LOOK WORK?
What if you took your man to a private place; no people, no on-lookers, no distractions, somewhere his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name.
He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. laugh with her ... kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted.
As she shows him her dress and then asks him what he thinks - his nerves start to diminish.
Because you aren’t on a time crunch, you can then casually move into some romantic portraits. No one is around, there’s no one yelling “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure. It’s just the two of you and your photographer, capturing the raw emotion and heartwarming embraces, filled with the excitement and the joy of your wedding day.
This is your time to be TOGETHER and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day?
The images from Bec and Waz's wedding are some of my favourite EVER. It was the most emotional first look I’ve ever witnessed- he cried, she cried, I cried! It was a moment of pure magic, that they have told me they will remember FOREVER.
I KNOW THEY ARE AWESOME FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Now, my husband is a beautiful man, but he’s not used to sharing his deepest emotions with anyone other than me, let alone in front of a crowd of people! I knew that if the first time he saw me was when I was walking down the aisle, his reaction would be filtered and muted - and dangit, I wanted a REACTION!! I wanted Dan to be so surprised and overcome with joy that he bawled at the first sight of me! Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction?
Dan took some convincing, because he was stuck in the ‘tradition’, but once I explained it to him he came around to the idea - and our First Look was magical. We were so excited, and so happy, we got to hold each other and hug and dance and kiss and I got to twirl and show him my dress, and he got to admire it and tell me how beautiful I was - what bride gets to do that at the alter?
This was our first look...
Photos by Anya Maria Photography
When I walked down the aisle, Dan wasn’t a nervous wreck because he had spent time with me and the pressure was OFF. By the time our ceremony rolled around he was ready to just enjoy our beautiful day!
And you know what? I still felt like a million bucks walking down the aisle. Even though we had already seen each other, it was still a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime!! Because the nerves were gone our true emotions were free to be expressed. And OH were they expressed!
THREE EPIC REASONS TO CONSIDER HAVING A FIRST LOOK
1. You get to enjoy the surprise freely
You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Most brides don’t realize 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.
2. You get to enjoy cocktail hour
So you’ve just gotten hitched – woohoo!! Now it’s time for the family formal photos, and then your guests get to enjoy cocktail hour while you go off for an hour or so to have some photos taken….wait – what?
Your wedding is probably the only time in your life where you will have all your loved ones in the same place, at the same time, which is even more important when they are spread across the country/world. They’ll all be so happy and excited, and eager to hug and kiss you and congratulate you! You don’t want to miss that, do you?!
By incorporating all your portraits with your husband-to-be and your bridal aprty before the ceremony, you’ve got 90% of your photos over and done with! Sure, we’ll sneak away from 15 minutes or so at some point so we can take some ‘Just Married’ photos at sunset, but how good will it be to just get the party started?!
3. You get 40% more portrait photos
Having your First Look before the ceremony means we aren’t rushed for time. We can take as long as we want to get awesome photos, usually this works out to be twice as much time as we would normally get if we took these portraits between the ceremony and the reception.
It also allows you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. When Dan and I saw each other, we laughed and danced and laughed some more … and that put us in the PERFECT mood for our romantic portraits. 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, or your cheeky bridal party, hanging 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!
STILL NOT CONVINCED?
If you’ve always dreamed of the traditional first look at your ceremony, you might feel like having a First Look will make the ceremony feel anticlimatic, and take away all that excitement. But that wasn’t the case for me, nor for any of my brides and grooms who opted for a first look.
The ceremony is still monumentous, and it’s still so special, because everyone else gets to see you for the first time, and you can focus on their reactions a little more. But, ‘tunnel vision’ is totally a thing, I know all I could see when I walked down the aisle was Dan’s handsome face smiling back at me. The difference was, I already knew he thought I looked BEAUTIFUL, and all that’s left was joy and excitement at finally tying the knot together.
Here's another example from Bunt and Sally's wedding - these guys had a first look; but will you just look at his face during the ceremony?? SO BEAUTIFUL - and still special.
And if you STILL aren't convinced - that’s totally okay! You don’t need to be! I just want you to know it’s an option, and one you should definitely consider – but it’s your wedding, and I want you to do whatever will make you happiest.
BUT - if this has given you a lot to consider (or even changed your mind), or if you had a first look and loved/hated it - I would LOVE to hear from you in my inbox or in the comments below ♥
If you are a bride and on the hunt for a wedding photographer - you can find more info on my packages over here, or you can hit the button below to send me a message!