If you’re scratching your head, thinking to yourself “what the heck is a ‘first look’?” You’re not alone! A first look (also called “first glance”) is a relatively new wedding practice(I would say ‘trend’, but it goes deeper than that!). It involves the wedding couple having a moment together before the ceremony to see each other (without hundreds of spectators). Typically, I have the groom stationed in an area, turned around where he can’t see his bride coming up behind him. Then, she walks up and gives him a tap on the shoulder (or just gives him the “okay” to turn around). That’s when the magic happens. Not only are they able to see each other without hundreds of guests staring, but they’re able to talk to each other and focus on each other. He can admire her beauty and TELL HER she is beautiful. He can twirl her, they can kiss, and just enjoy each other’s company! I’ve photographed a LOT of weddings, and I’ve noticed that couples who don’t share a first look together usually don’t have time to even have a conversation during their entire wedding day!
So, if you are a couple wondering if you should have a first look, here are some reasons you SHOULD and SHOULD NOT!
You’ve planned this wedding for a year, and you can’t wait for the day that you get to see your fiancé all wedding-ready and ready to marry YOU! But what most couples don’t realize is that after you come down the aisle, you won’t get to talk to each other freely until after the ceremony. Then you have family photos, bridal party photos, and, alas, Mr. and Mrs. photos. But you still can’t really talk to each other then, because you don’t want photographs with you talking! Then you head to the reception, and just when you sit down to eat, everyone and their mama (and your mama) comes to congratulate you. Then you have your first dance where you can finally share a few words with each other! Before you know it, your reception is over, and you’re being driven away in your getaway car.
If you shared a First Look your wedding day would look completely different. Couples who see each other before the wedding usually have enough time for their immediate family photos as well as their entire wedding party before the ceremony! Then they can spend time with each other. Hold hands, snuggle, have a shot of tequila–whatever they fancy.
As I mentioned above, couples who share a first look have the opportunity to have all of their family portraits and wedding party portraits before the ceremony! After the ceremony we do Mr. and Mrs. portraits (with the veil!), then you can enjoy your cocktail hour, mingle with your guests, have some hors do’uevres, and relax!
If you know you’re going to be a hot mess walking down the aisle with 100+ people staring at you, I would definitely suggest a first look. I am one of those people. I don’t like the center of attention, and I had nightmares about falling flat on my face. BUT Jason(the Mr. Jeffers) and I didn’t share a first look (we didn’t have time!), and I regret that. I had severe anxiety, and he was the only one who could have made that better. Read on for Brittany’s testimonial…
Everyone will tell you that seeing the bride on the day of the wedding is bad luck, but they don’t know why it’s bad luck, or the origin behind that superstitious belief. During the time that arranged marriages were custom, the couple wasn’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all. They didn’t want a run-away bride (or groom) on their hands, so the couple had no choice but to be married at first sight. That is usually not the case here in the twenty-first century(except for those couples on my favorite TV show–‘Married at First Sight’)!
Many times I have brides tell me “I really want him to see me for the first time coming down the aisle, because I want it to be a special moment.” (Bonus points if he cries). But what many brides don’t understand is that not all men are the same (hallelujah). A man who is comfortable with his emotions (and letting 200 other people see those emotions) may shed a few tears, but for the most part, a lot of grooms try their hardest to keep those tears in their eyes, so they end up looking a bit angry and focused. Then when you get to the end of the aisle, your officiant immediately starts talking and you have to whisper to each other so you miss out on what your officiant is saying. On the other hand, I’ve had grooms shed tears seeing his beautiful bride walk down the aisle even after a first look! Read on to see testimonials from real couples that address this :)
My couples who see each other before the wedding usually get DOUBLE the amount of bride and groom photos on the wedding day! After the first look, we will do bride and groom portraits, then Mr. and Mrs. portraits after the ceremony.
If you truly believe that seeing each other beforehand is bad luck and may jinx your marriage, I would not suggest it! I definitely don’t want you to look back after you have your first big married argument and think “we are cursed!We shouldn’t have seen each other before the wedding!”
If your timeline is really tight, and there isn’t time to see each other before the ceremony, I wouldn’t suggest forcing it.
Instead of doing a first look, you can do a “first touch” where you hold hands around a wall or door. This is a great time to talk with each other and say a prayer or exchange gifts.
“So coming from a guy who thought he wanted to save his first look for the ceremony, I’m really glad I didn’t.
Being able to have that moment to get away from everything and be with my soon-to-be wife allowed us to have a special moment to reflect on this life-long commitment we were about to make.
“Initially I was hesitant to do a First Look at our wedding. My fiancé was nervous that it would make the “aisle moment” feel less genuine. I was afraid the First Look pictures might look cheesy.
As the wedding day drew closer, I began to realize how nervous I was going to feel leading up to the ceremony, thinking about everyone looking at me. Ultimately we decided to do a First Look because I thought seeing John before the ceremony would help me relax and enjoy the ceremony.
And it did! Plus, the First Look produced some of my favorite photos. They really seem to capture the joy and excitement we were feeling that day. We got married outside in June, so by the time we got to the after-ceremony shots of the two of us, the heat was starting to take its toll, and we were both getting a little tired. Those photos turned out great too, but there was something special about those First Look photos. And the moment itself was not at all cheesy. It was totally unscripted, so we got to talk, laugh, and do whatever came natural to us. Plus, John said our First Look didn’t make the aisle moment feel any less special. And it helped us both relax and enjoy the ceremony. Win win!”
Allison Jeffers is a photographer and educator serving sweet brides and helping other creative entrepreneurs reach their goals. She specializes in wedding photography and proposals as well as Bridal and Engagement portraits in Texas. She is available for travel worldwide and has her passport ready!