The Case for a First Look

April 05, 2014

Every girl has dreamed of it.  That moment she walks down the aisle and sees the man of her dreams standing there, a single tear rolls down his cheek as he holds his hand to his heart to keep it from bursting out of his chest.  She clings tightly to the arm walking her down the aisle and manages to keep her composure and as the officiant asks 'who gives this woman..." the world fades away and all she sees is her entire future, holding out his hand.  Later after the vows and the rings and the knowing glances are exchanged they will walk by the beach, hand in hand, at sunset for the most remarkable wedding photos of all time.

I love that vision, and sometimes that vision works and when it is pulled off well it is is unimaginably perfect.  However, that vision often clouds the reality of a wedding day, the timing, the expectations, the ability to eat before passing out... things like that.

That is why I always recommend a couple do a "First Look" on their wedding day.

I often get quite a bit of push back because it really does harsh the vision, and I have found more recently that a lot of that push back is not necessarily from the bride.  There are a lot of grooms who really have a vision for seeing their bride for the first time when she's walking down the aisle.  Again, I love that vision, but with the grandeur of many of today's weddings we also have to be realistic about meeting expectations.

The first thing I want my couple's to know when they ask, "well isn't it bad luck?," is no it is not.  The tradition of the bride and groom being hidden from each other before the wedding was started with arranged marriage, most often when the bride was sold for a dowry of cattle (or whatever the commodity was at the time.)  The reason it was considered bad luck is because one of two things could happen; the groom could refuse because the bride wasn't up to his standards or the bride could run away because the groom was hideous.  Since you probably won't be trading your spouse for a herd of UDSA prime, you are safe.

The second thing is this, people have a tendency to think that a first look will lessen the specialness of when the bride walks down the aisle.  Trust me on this, I have been at this for five years and I have never ever encountered a groom who saw his bride before the service and then when the moment came and she walked down that aisle to be his wife, he said "Meh, I've seen it already, next" and proceeded to yawn.  That moment is always magical. 

But think about it, the great thing about a first look is your hair is done perfectly, nothing is dirty yet and you don't have to even try keep your composure so that a ceremony can commence, you can cry all you like.  Here are some of my favorites - 

When Courtney and Justin did their first look for their Twin Cities extravaganza I was elated, not only because they are a gorgeous couple and every extra minute I had with them was amazing, but also because they got married at the Cathedral at St. Thomas.  That church is amazingly beautiful and remarkably dark with some pretty serious restrictions on flash and how far forward you get to be as the photographers.  I would have hated to miss that moment with Justin catching his breath at Courtney's loveliness.

That is definitely something to consider when it comes to first look, if your wedding is late in the day, if your church has very few windows, if the venue you're in isn't particularly well lit or picturesque and you want that "overwhelmed groom" photo think about where he'll be when he first sees you.

Think also about the heat or humidity.  Tyler and Kaitlyn's Oahu wedding was nothing short of a dream, picturesque doesn't even begin to describe it.  But it was also humid and the breeze was intermittent at best.  This way, they were both at their best for their photos and got to go straight to their party when the ceremony was over.

This next one is one of my favorites!

Tierney and Joshua originally wanted to wait to see each other but when we talked it over with the schedule of the day they agreed to a first look.  Nothing about this moment is lackluster or without real excitement and emotion.

Before you push aside the idea of a first look because you're afraid it will spoil your day, think of the opportunities you'll have to create even more special moments with each other when you can shamelessly cry it out beforehand.

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