Just before the ceremony the gravity of what is about to happen begins to sink in and the calm, cool, collected groom was playing golf in the AM and is not starting to feel a little anxious. What happens next? The groom waits in a little room somewhere waiting for the coordinator to tell him when to go. It seems like it’s taking forever. Eventually the coordinator comes in and leans her head inside of the room letting him know, its time. With clammy hands and some deep breaths, the groom enters into the ceremony to find anywhere from 80-250 people, all looking at him…. right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first REACTION. This moment is the furthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Yes, 100% it is SO SO powerful and SO SO wonderful, as I mentioned above this moment was one of the best moments of my whole wedding day. It was so magical!! But I can assure you that PJ was nervous. He spent the whole morning with his best friends and the pressure was OFF. By the time I was walking toward him at the ceremony, he was ready to enjoy our day. The nerves were gone and when the nerves were gone, true emotions were expressed. It was so beautiful. We both cried and cried tears of happiness!)Now, let me summarize what I just wrote… you see, Grooms normally become extremely nervous on their wedding day. The might seem cool and collected, but deep down there is some anxiety. For many grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, all of a sudden it all becomes VERY real! So, when the nerves start to creep up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded area until it is time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a prive place… no people, no on lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride walk up to him. Tap his shoulder or say his name to turn around. He turns around and he finally gets his first look at his stunning bride. Not only would he get to see her, but he would get to embrace her, cry with her, kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress and spins a few times and she says “what do you think?” His nerves start to fade. After all, she is the only one that can make him most comfortable anyway.Since they are not on a time crunch during this time, they can casually move into their romantic portraits. No one is around, the coordinator is not announcing “15 more mins!”, there is no pressure. It’s just the two of them and their photographer…. capturing the excitement and joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be ALONE. Their time to be TOGETHER. When does this happen on the wedding day? Without a first look… believe it or not, it doesn’t happen. After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends. Their wedding party joins them because hey still have plenty of time to spare.. The bride touches up her makeup and hair while the boys act like boys. After several minutes of the wedding party portraits the vibe changes and everyone is having FUN. Why? because there is time to make them FUN! There are no guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there is not a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check. It’s AMAZING!After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony. The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony. As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement. The musics builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead. The groom looks up and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning. The closer she gets, the bigger his smile.
It just occurred to me that I have not blogged about the topic of having a first look! Can you believe it?! I mean, I know I have confessed my love for “first looks” so many times on the blog when I blog about a wedding and they happened to have a first look. but for me not to have a blog post all about just that… I can’t believe it! So, here it is!! The first look is one of my favorite parts of a wedding day. They are AWESOME! They are so awesome that unfortunately not everyone is aware of how awesome they are. Many brides think the only thing to do is have the “traditional” first look of walking down the aisle that they immediately disregard the first look. Guess what? I was one of those brides. With a big wedding party a first look would have made sense but I did not even think twice about it. I knew when I was walking down the aisle was the first time he would see me. I wanted that reaction. The tears. The happiness.
Isn’t that EVERY girls dream? Who doesn’t wait that reaction? Thankfully, walking down the aisle to see PJ in tears of happiness was a sight I will never forget ( behind the tears pouring down my face). He was in tears and so was everyone that was watching him!! I felt like a million bucks. Walking down the aisle on my wedding day is a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime!!
After experiencing my own wedding and shooting over 80 others…. I have come to this conclusion. Sure, some brides really LOVE “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time is his REACTION. Many couples who are not interested in a first look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as walking down the aisle. You see, what I have found is so ironic! (insert Alanis Morissette lyrics here). Everyone knows that planning a wedding is stressful, and that stress does not go away come the wedding day for both the bride and groom. The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, be on time, the groom usually has no idea what side the bout is supposed to go on or how to fold a pocket square and little by little, tension grows.
Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look… AT ALL. This is totally up to the bride and groom. I used to feel bad for sharing this option and encouraging couples to do it but I’ve gotten over that phase. I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look! It’s just my preference to do one:) Ok, now lets keep going.
Couples who opt for a First Look experience these benefits:
– You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography and with a first look, you get 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you decorate your first home with! This is a huge investment for you and so obviously your photography is a BIG deal. With a first look, you make the most out of this huge investment and get the most for your money.
– You actually get intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Normally, most people think walking down the aisle is the BIGGEST, most emotional moment of the whole day because that is what the tradition is. But people 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 or embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 40 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 40 minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
– First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your wedding party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. The WHOLE first half of your wedding album will be filled with just images from this time together before the ceremony.
– First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. You can cry and laugh and cry some more… and then that will put you in the PERFECT mood for your romantic portraits. Normally portraits are rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other and I always capture some SWEET images during those moments!
– You get rid of the nerves. I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have done a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms that initially weren’t a fan of the first look.. but afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!
Straight from the Groom:
“ We had been a a few weddings where the couples had a first look. They talked about how amazing that moment was for them, that it was just them and their photographer and they wouldn’t change that moment for the world. Laura mentioned that she wanted to have a first look for our wedding and I thought it was a great idea. We learned more about the timeline and how the first look will fit in with the day and we knew it was the right decision for us. The moment I first saw her on our wedding day is a moment I will never forget! I was so excited to see her I couldn’t help smiling the entire time waiting to turn around. WhenI turned around, she took my breath away. All these months of planning were finally here, and she was so beautiful. We had our moment together, laughing, crying, talking about how we couldn’t believe this was happing right now, and Alex had us let her know when we were ready for her to being our portraits. This moment is truely one of the best moments from our day. I will never forget it.” – Troy Perry
“I don’t regret a first look photo at all! It made a normally exposed moment very private and intimate, and actually took a lot of pressure off the day. Alex was hiding behind bushes and she captured that very first moment I saw Vicky. It was amazing, it was emotional, it was funny ( I turned around and said “ OH HEY!”) which I think eased her nerves but then we had those moments where tears feel and we were able to enjoy those moments first thing without everyone there trying to get our attention. I woudl not change that mement for the world. I definitely recommend it!” – Sean Barag
“When Hannah told me she wanted to do a fist look, I was hesitant. Would it be cheesy or on the other hand, would I be too emotional and not be able to hold it together? The minutes of anticipation before she tapped on my shoulder, signaling for me to turn around, might have been the most memorable part of the day. I remember standing there, eager to see her, and her dress for the first time. It was the right way to kick off the wedding and I can’t imagine doing it all over again without a first look.” – JUSTIN MINER
“I loved doing the first look. I remember your team setting me up to look at the Boston skyline and thinking how surreal the view was, the weather we had, and that the wedding day had actually arrived. Then Gina snuck up behind me and asked me to turn around. Upon turning, I immediately had a big smile and the perfect mix of calm & excitement. She looked strikingly beautiful and I couldn’t wait to marry her and everything else to follow. Finally, doing the first look gave us the opportunity to spend more time with each other, and our guests, immediately following the ceremony. It was a 100% the right decision for us.” – KEVIN FIELD