When we decided to start our blog one of our ideas was to impart advice and wisdom based on everything we see at weddings. Since we are literally there for every single moment of the entire wedding day we see a lot (and photograph a lot too). :-)
There are so many things we want to write about, it was hard to pick what should be our first topic. But finally we decided and we want to talk about the value of doing a "First Look" on your wedding day.
It is one of our favorite moments of the day from all of the weddings we have done. I would say that 90% of our wedding couples choose to have a first look. There are so many reasons to do them. Jeff tends to think about the practical reasons - more time for photography, more time to spend with your friends and family during the reception and I tend to think about the more romantic side of things. Think about this...it is your wedding day. You've waited a very very long time to have this special day, so why would you want to spend the bulk of it separated from one another. Imagine if you spend this one day together for the whole day and experience all the moments that happen together, what kind of memories do you think you'll have? (and photographs!!)
Also, you just spent 3-4 hours in hair, makeup and getting dressed and you are the best you are going to look all day. Don't you want your groom to see you in your absolute best? And when you do see each other, you will want to spend time checking out the tux, your groom will want to spend time looking at you in your dress, and all those beautiful details that define you as the beautiful bride. Kinda hard to do when you are in front of hundreds of people...trust us, we know.
The first time you see each other is a very overwhelming moment in time. I remember when I first saw Jeff from our own wedding (and we didn't see each other before the ceremony). I got so overwhelmed that I hyperventilated in front of 150 friends and family walking down the aisle and did not get to enjoy that moment as I thought I was going to. Jeff was so nervous that all he remembers seeing is the back of a church and a blur walking towards him. I really wish we could have had that moment in private, but it was a 10am church wedding 16 years ago. First Looks really didn't exist back then. :-)
Now imagine all the emotions leading up to your wedding day, the planning, the laughter, the stress...all comes together in that first moment you see each other. Now think about how nice it would be if you can do this early in the day, together without a huge audience (or a select few that you want to share it with). And now imagine that your photographers are there capturing it from 2 points of view. These images are truly some of my absolute favorite moments from every wedding we have ever photographed. It is just pure candid emotions and love captured forever!
Now let's look at the practical side of having a First Look. Most couples today get married and have their reception at the same facility and most have their reception start immediately following the ceremony. If you don't see each other beforehand, that means that you will be keeping your guests waiting to eat, drink and party until you've had a chance to do your wedding pictures. Here are all of the images that must be done when you don't see each other ahead of time - your family formals, your images with your entire wedding party together, your images of the two of you together. Most of our weddings we spend 3-4 hours shooting these types of images. So without a first look, you will do what is done over several hours and try and smoosh it all into 45 minutes, because that's about all the time your guests will be patient waiting for you. ;-)
Now let's talk about the fun you will have when you get to spend the day together. This means that your entire wedding day is a shared event. So many of our couples choose to also spend it with their wedding party. We do things like hop on party buses and drive around Seattle to all kinds of super fun locations, it makes for such a fun-filled and more relaxing wedding day.
So what should you do with this advice? Talk to each other...think about why you aren't seeing each other beforehand if you've been thinking that. I don't believe it causes bad luck which is where some of the superstition of this custom has come from. It also dates back to the time of arranged marriages, which you will most likely not be having. :-) Definitely talk to your photographers...have them show you their first look images and tell you real stories of the difficulties of photographing all of the most important images within 45 minutes when now the bride and groom have the added stress and pressure of worrying about waiting guests. Sometimes that can show in the pictures, if you are stressing about your guests and if they are waiting too long.
If you are one of our couples, please chat with us more about it. And if you still want to not see each other beforehand, we will definitely respect that decision and come up with a plan to make your photography awesome. But now you might understand more why things could feel a bit more stressed during your wedding day than you might have thought about before. We just want your wedding day to be perfect, beautiful, fun and as stressfree as possible and a fun, romantic, wonderful moment like a First Look definitely puts the day onto that path!
Here are a few of our most favorite first look moments from the past few years, just look at the emotion -
We really want this blog to be useful to brides as they are planning their weddings, so let's help each other out! We encourage everyone to make comments and let us know your own experiences if you are already married or what you are thinking about on having a First Look moment for your wedding day that's coming soon!