In Defense of a First Look
The tradition of a groom not seeing his bride until he meets her at the altar has taken some serious heat in the last few years as “first looks” have surged in popularity. It seems almost more common that the couple meets face to face a few hours before the ceremony for some special photos, rather than waiting until the walk down the aisle. What do you think about this stray from tradition? Are you superstitious and think it is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding?
While I am firmly in the you-do-you camp when it comes to wedding day traditions, I do have some thoughts on this particular choice, both from a professional and a personal standpoint. So while you bear in mind that I will always encourage you to do whatever is best for the two of you, here are some thoughts on the first look (and because I am notoriously sappy, I have accompanied each with a gif for your amusement. Let's be real. If I used a bunch of photos like the first one, we'd all be dead with emotion).
1. Timeline #goals
Ohhh man. What wonders a first look does for the logistics of the day. It is like timeline magic. With a first look, a photographer can capture most if not all of the wedding party photos before the ceremony, meaning you join your guests at the reception sooner. It also leaves some wiggle room in the day in case you do run behind (things happen) to catch up after the ceremony. Overall, it gives flexibility and ease to the many events happening during the day.
2. Photo #goals
With time set aside for just you and your honey, and no rush to get to the reception, your photographer can capture some beautiful moments. The reaction photos are a precious way to capture the raw emotion you have both been carrying around for weeks, and are a treasure for years to come (even if you ugly cry like I did). After that initial moment passes, you have time to laugh, hug, and take some gorgeous couples shots without an audience.
3. A Moment Together
How much time do you think you get to spend with your new spouse on your wedding day? In reality, very little. You have dozens, or even hundreds, of friends and family who have gathered to celebrate you. You have dinner to eat, cake to cut, and dances to dance. Even when you are together, you’re surrounded by a sea of loved ones. All of this is wonderful, and part of what makes a wedding so special, but what if you could steal away a few minutes with just the two of you? This was my favorite part of my wedding day. Just to have a minute to talk to him, laugh about what had happened that morning, and breathe in the reality that we were going to be husband and wife—like really really soon. It gave me a chance to step back and soak in the beauty, anticipation, and excitement of what was about to happen.
4. TWO Special Moments
One reason couples may choose not to do a first look is they worry it steals some of the magic of the walk down the aisle. In my personal experience, having seen Tanner a few moments before only heightened the emotion of that grand entrance. The first look gave us a few minutes to be us – to be goofy, to talk, to share in the day together. When they opened the doors and I started walking toward him, it was entirely different. In that moment, I was walking toward my husband—and I couldn’t get there fast enough! These two parts of the day were so special—each in their own unique way.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the choices you make for your wedding day are just that: choices. There is no wrong one. So if you decide to wait until the altar to see your loved one, I say go for it! It’s gonna be magical. But for me, and for many of the sweet couples I’ve served, the first look makes the day that much more special!