First Look or No First Look?
One of the most common questions I get when brides are planning their wedding is "Should we do a first look?" There are so many reasons for both sides of this and I completely understand either preference.
For my own wedding, we chose not to do a first look. I wanted a more traditional approach and not seeing each other before the ceremony was pare of that. Now that I'm a photographer, I also see the advantages of doing a first look that I didn't see before.
So let's look at both sides...
Most weddings have more than one first look, even if the bride and groom don't have one...because they are amazing and so full of wonderful emotion. The first one is usually with your bridesmaids. They all get to cover their eyes and wait for you to get in the perfect position. When they open their eyes, there's always a shout of amazement and lots of happy tears with hugs all around. This is the first moment that the bride gets to REALLY feel like a million bucks! She is absolutely glowing and the happy energy from the bridesmaids is just what's needed before the ceremony.
The second one we do is with the father of the bride. Once the bridesmaids have finished helping the bride get ready, it's time to show Dad his little girl. Dad always appreciated having a moment with his daughter and the bride is happy to be able to show her dad the dress and exchange a few hugs before he walks her down the aisle in front of all their family and friends.
Finally, it's the groom's turn. Once we decide on the perfect spot for the groom's first look, we get him in place and instruct him to close his eyes. Absolutely NO PEEKING allowed! Then we bring the bride in behind him and make sure the dress is just perfect. After a moment of pure torture and dying to see his bride, the groom can turn around and shine the biggest smile ever. He is always pleasantly surprised by her astonishing beauty and the wedding gown that she has been raving about for the past few months, if not longer. He beams with pride as he walks around her, complimenting every detail as he goes. All this is followed by ample hugs and kisses and ooohs and ahhhhs. It really is amazing to watch and an honor to photograph.
Time permitting, the first look is followed by a few couples portraits before the bride gets tucked away and out of the spying eyes of any early arrivals for the ceremony.
Like I mentioned, for my own wedding, we chose to not have a first look. Traditions was the driving force behind my decision and it worked for my husband and me. Looking back, I don't regret my decision because it was the right one for me at the time. If I had it to do all over again with the knowledge and experience I have now, I would probably do a first look, just so I could have those pictures to look back on.
Tradition is probably the number one reason to not have a first look. As much as we might like to think that the decisions about our wedding are ours alone, they aren't always. Our family members can have some strong opinions about what you should or should not do and you have to decide if upholding the time-honored traditions of previous generations is something you want to do. For me, it was exactly what I wanted.
Superstition is another reason to consider keeping the bride tucked away before the ceremony. For some, it's considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. Even if you aren't totally convinced this is true, who needs lingering thoughts of bad luck in your marriage? If following this superstition is important to you or your fiance, you should absolutely not have a first look.
Time constraints my prevent you from having that peek. Almost every moment of your wedding day will be planned and scheduled. Sometimes the schedule simply does not allow enough time for a first look. Maybe guests are arriving early or you were delayed in arriving at the venue due to heavy traffic. There are any number of things that can make a first look take a back seat in your wedding plans. And that's okay!
Finally, you may simply want to surprise him. There's nothing like the look on his face when he sees you in your wedding dress for the first time as you are walking down the aisle, toward him. He will be beaming with pride and joy when he sees how beautiful you are and knowing that he will be your husband in just a few short minutes is a great feeling! It's amazing to witness and one of my top reasons, as a photographer, that I love it when there is no first look.
No matter what you choose, the first time the groom sees his bride will be nothing short of amazing. There's really no right or wrong way to do it and you get to choose what works best for the two of you. Your wedding photographer will be there to capture every moment of it!