Early in the planning process, when a couple is deciding how many hours they want to book us for at their wedding, we have the first look conversation. One of the first things we share with our couples is that we love-and I really mean love-the first look.
So first, what is a first look? In the simplest terms, it is when a couple sees each other before the ceremony. While, traditionally, the couple waits until the ceremony to see each other, more and more couples are choosing to take a few minutes to see each other and connect before the ceremony, transition into their formal portraits before the ceremony, and then hide away before their guests arrive and see them.
If you have a vision of your future spouse never seeing you until you walk down the aisle during your ceremony, we absolutely want to support you in that, but if you aren't sure, or maybe never thought about that moment, we want to share why we love the first look so much. So, here's what we love about them:
1. It is an authentic, emotional moment that is focused only on the two of you.
You don't have an audience (other than us), and that shows. The reaction of your partner isn't tempered by being nervous in front of a crowd. Your tears or smiles aren't shared with anyone but your partner. It is intimate and focused only on the two of you. The rest of your day might be a blur, but this gives you a few quiet, intimate moments to be with each other and remember why you are even here in the first place-your love for one another. You can whisper to each other, share a love letter, and focus on only the face of the person you are marrying instead of the audience.
2. It doesn't lessen the impact of when your partner sees you coming down the aisle.
There is something totally different about seeing your future bride or groom dressed and ready and seeing them walking down the aisle. The full weight of how lucky you are to have found each other and be spending your lives together is still going to hit each of you-and we'll get that photo for you, too! You get to experience the quiet, intimate, sweet moment of seeing each other AND the more public moment of knowing you are about the be joined together forever, and neither moment takes away from the other.
3. It frees up time later in the day-which means you get to enjoy more of your wedding day with the people you love!
If you do a first look, we get to do couple and wedding party portraits BEFORE the ceremony. There is almost always more time before the ceremony than after it, and that means none of us will be rushed and you will probably enjoy the process more, and you might even be able to enjoy most of your cocktail hour with your friends and family. Without the first look, we are normally trying to squeeze in the couple portraits, the wedding party portraits, and the family portraits into the cocktail hour-which means you miss it.
We really want you to enjoy your wedding, being able to attend the cocktail hour and be congratulated by your guests improves your experience. It might mean you get to have a quiet dinner with your new spouse and spend a little less time traveling from table to table because you were able to mingle during the cocktail hour. Or, it might mean you actually get to spend quality time with your favorite aunt that travelled 2,000 miles to be with you on your special day. Whatever is important to you, it frees up time to let you experience those important moments that you will remember for years to come.
4. It calms you both down.
Think about this: When you are stressed, worried, or nervous, who do you go to? I bet your bride or groom is pretty high on that list. Now, imagine being in the middle of a day you've been planning for, saving for, and stressing over for months or more, and not being able to reach out to your partner for support.
Seeing each other, spending a few minutes talking, crying, kissing-whatever your style is-helps you ground yourself and be more present in the moment. You can let the stress and nerves go and remember that this whole thing is about love. I know I've already mentioned that idea, but for me, weddings with first looks always feel more romantic and more focused on the love story and on joining two lives together and less focused on the event itself. Whenever we can take a moment and refocus on the people and relationships involved, and less on the moving parts of a wedding day, the better the day goes.
Also, you don't have to worry about having an audience, and for many of us, that is a big deal.
5. I get that we are photographers, and are a little biased about the photography part of this, but it is worth mentioning that the first look photos end up being some of our favorite photos, and they make the formal couple portraits better too!
We can control most of the environment for a first look-we choose a location with the best lighting, backgrounds, and ambience to allow you to focus on one another and allow us to capture the best photographs. The ceremony is more documentary style-we capture things as you planned them, and they will be beautiful images that you treasure and pass on through the generations, but there are more elements out of our control during the ceremony than during a first look. Anytime we can all slow down and enjoy ourselves, we have an opportunity to make your big day better, and that's worth considering.
Also, the first look really is sweet and romantic, the images make me cry while I edit them, and that mood carries into your formal portraits. You are already more comfortable in front of the camera and with each other, and your portraits show it.