Why do a first look?
First looks are becoming more and more popular—and for great reasons! Couples are choosing to forego tradition in exchange for a private moment together before their wedding. Many exchange sweet letters, pray together, or have their portraits taken before the ceremony to speed up the timeline. On the fence about first looks? Here’s some pros and cons—
You get a moment alone.
A wedding day is like a performance. You walk down the aisle to the music, say the words you’ve rehearsed, perform your first dance in front of your friends and family, and try to greet and thank all of your guests throughout the night. All eyes are on you all day, and it’s exhausting. Your first look may be the only time during the day when you two get to have a full conversation, and it’s definitely the only private moment you’ll get. Many brides say it calms their nerves, too! It’s very normal to be nervous on your wedding day. Both of you probably will be. That moment to take a breath may help you shake off the butterflies and get ready to walk down the aisle.
Your husband-to-be may react differently when you walk down the aisle.
Even if you don’t believe it’s bad luck to see each other before the wedding, you make a trade off when you decide to do a private first look or not see each other before the ceremony. One of the must-have shots for some brides is the first moment the groom lays eyes on the bride. It’s up to you to choose whether you want that moment to be in private or during your ceremony. The image is equally beautiful and meaningful! My groom put on a big cheesy smile, even though we had just seen each other moments before. It doesn’t dull the excitement of the wedding ceremony.
You get to your reception quicker.
Traditionally, the time between your ceremony and reception is reserved for portraits of the bride and groom, the wedding party, and your families. If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, you can get most of those pictures out of the way, getting you and your wedding party to the dinner table quicker, and minimizing the time your guests have to wait for you to arrive before they eat. You may even save some money on cocktail hour! Plus, this means the photographer is able to get to cocktail hour before the guests have changed anything about the way you have set up the room, so the reception room you designed so carefully can photographed and forever documented.
Walking down the aisle isn’t quite as intense.
After having a private moment together, taking pictures with your bridal party, and lining up for the ceremony, the jitters are gone and that first emotional moment has happened. There will be many wonderful moments during your wedding day to look forward to, but the build up to the first look has already come and gone by the time you start the precession. For me, walking down the aisle was a sweeter moment. Instead of being nervous for the big entrance, I had just shared a deep breath outside with my husband, and was ready to walk towards him and say our vows. We did our first look right before the ceremony, so we still maintained the build-up and element of surprise.
You have a series of images to cherish forever!
During a private first look, the you all are free to react however you want. Being in front of a crowd of people sometimes stifles that freedom and changes the reactions a bit. After, you will not only have the memory of the conversation and time you spent together before the wedding started, but you will have a series of photographs where your true personalities really show. Your groom might pick you up & spin you around, or maybe just plant a kiss on your forehead. These things don’t often happen during a ceremony.
Some couples choose to exchange letters, or stand on opposite sides of a door and have an image taken together that morning without seeing each other. Some even have conversations while blindfolded! I love first looks, and I have chosen to have one for my wedding. But, no matter what anyone says, it is completely up to you and each option is equally memorable and meaningful.
Hope this was helpful!
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Jo Mahaney is a professional photographer of PhotographyByJo.net based in Staunton, Virginia, specializing in wedding photography. With over eight years of experience, Jo is dedicated to creating effortless, joyful imagery that authentically captures the essence of each couple’s unique love story. She is known for her ability to create meaningful galleries filled with emotion and personal narratives. Jo is not just a photographer; she is an active supporter of her clients, providing resources and guidance to ensure a stress-free experience. From the initial inquiry call to the wedding day, Jo is transparent, open, and ready to get to know her clients to provide the best service possible. Her commitment to her craft and her clients is evident in the glowing testimonials she has received. Jo’s work extends beyond Staunton, covering areas such as Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Lexington, Roanoke, and Richmond. She has also had the privilege of photographing weddings in various locations, including the Outerbanks, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, and even Spain.