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This can be a really controversial topic, and as an Olympic National Park & Seattle wedding photographer I love having this conversation with brides and grooms! It’s such a personal decision—so many people want to be “traditional” and they’ve thought about the moment they’ll see their fiancé for the first time on their wedding day while walking down the aisle all their lives. Since you’ve been thinking about that moment for such a long time, it can be a shock to consider seeing one another before the ceremony!
Lots of photographers strongly encourage doing a “First Look” before the wedding ceremony, where the bride and groom take 10-15 minutes to see one another, and then do portraits together and with bridal party and family before the ceremony. This, of course, can help the rest of the day go more smoothly as you aren’t trying to round up friends and family members afterwards for portraits, and you can go straight into your reception and get to the important business of partying! But the main reasons I encourage a “first look” aren’t for my convenience as the photographer. My hope and desire for every wedding is to help every bride and groom have the best, most enjoyable and memorable experience possible on their wedding day! There are a few reasons I like doing a “first look” with my couples, but it’s not just to make photography easier. Read more below!
If you’re on the fence about seeing one another before the ceremony, my suggestion is to consider five things things:
1. Doing a “first look” together before the ceremony can really help calm any nerves. Most nervousness around the wedding day has to do with seeing one another for the first time in front of a large group of people! If you’re a little bit introverted like I am, seeing your fiance in a private and calm moment can help remind you that you’re in this together, and you’ll have your best friend by your side the whole day long!
2. Seeing one another first can help put your focus on spending time with your guests at your reception! Personally, my husband and I waited until our wedding ceremony to see one another, and this is one of the main reasons why I would do things differently in hindsight. I was so focused on seeing him and spending time with him that I couldn’t focus on our guests, family, and friends during the reception. I really don’t have many memories of our reception because it all went by in such a blur, I was so focused on finally getting to see Paul and having a quiet moment together. If we had seen another prior to our ceremony, it would have been easier to shift that focus afterwards and enjoy conversations and celebrating with our family and guests.
3. If you’re having your ceremony in the afternoon or evening, as most people do, and you wait to see one another until the ceremony—you’ll have spent most of your wedding day apart! You only get ONE wedding day with each other, and it will be one of the most memorable days of your lives. Don’t you want to spend most of your day together?! This day, more than any other, is about commemorating and celebrating your relationship—so you should spend as much of it as possible in one another’s company! IMHO.
4. Having a private “first look” can give you the chance to have an unguarded response to one another. You can laugh, cry, hug, and check each other out in your wedding outfits without feeling like there are five hundred eyes on you! Sharing those special moments of seeing one another in private won’t take anything away from the emotions of seeing each other while you walk down the aisle. Which brings me to my final point:
5. Some grooms express fear that doing a “first look” will take away from the special moment of seeing their bride walking down the aisle towards them. This is the furthest thing from the truth! The emotions of watching your bride walking down the aisle are so special, and nothing can make that moment any less incredible. There is absolutely nothing that can take away from that moment. Instead of taking anything away from the emotion of the moment , a “first look” only adds another special moment from your day.
Now, all of that being said, some couples still feel strongly that they would rather have a traditional “reveal” while the bride is walking down the aisle towards the groom. And I completely support this, if you’re willing to take some time after the ceremony for portraits together and with your family and bridal party. I have another post in the works about how do plan photography around a traditional “walking down the aisle” reveal—coming soon!
What do you think? If you’re already married, did you have a first look at your wedding? Would you recommend doing a first look to other couples?