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What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

Feb 5, 2018

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

Let me paint a picture for you.

It’s your wedding day. You have been planning this for months. You have poured your sweat and tears into making this the perfect day. Your hair and makeup is done and everything is perfect. You put on your dress with your best friends and family looking on with approval. Your wedding coordinator comes in and says it’s time for the ceremony. They grab your best friends and family and they all line up. You follow behind and await your turn to go down the aisle. Your nerves start to grow. “What will he think? Will he cry?”. This and many other questions are running through your head. Next thing you know, it’s time. However, your groom’s morning was a bit different. Your groom has been in a room that could only be described as the size of a broom closet all day, unable to see you. The nerves have been building up and his palms have started to sweat. The coordinator comes in to tell him its time for his big debut. So with sweaty hands he walks out into the ceremony… only to find 50-300 people staring at him waiting with anticipation and high expectations to see how HE is going to react to seeing you.

You step out into the aisle and you see him. He looks wonderful in the suit you picked out together. You feel the urge to cry because everything is perfect, and you might let it flow. He is smiling with that giant, goofy grin on his face that can only be described as pure joy. It is the reaction you have been waiting for all day! You walk towards him and all you want to do is put your arms around him, hug him, and tell him how happy you are. You want to talk to him and ask him what he thinks of your dress.

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

However, you can’t. You can’t say one word to him. Next thing you know, the officiant is starting the ceremony. You have to painstakingly wait to talk to him until after the ceremony. Which you don’t mind because it’s your wedding. You say your vows and FINALLY, you get to kiss him! You are man and wife and it couldn’t be more perfect. The ceremony is over and maybe, you get a moment of peace with him. But as in most situations, you go straight into bridal party and family portraits. Then it’s your couple portrait time, but its rushed because your family and friends are waiting. Next is your introduction, then toasts, then dinner, which you barely ate because everyone wants to talk to you. Then cake cutting, dancing, bouquet toss, and finally it’s the end of the night. It rushed by in a blur, but you are sitting in your getaway car with him. It couldn’t be more more perfect. You try and gleam any kind of information from your new HUSBAND, but he in typically guy fashion doesn’t go into detail about your dress, how he was feeling when he saw you, or really anything. While you are still ecstatic that he is your HUSBAND, you wish you could have had a moment of peace with him. A moment to absorb that they got married. That you wish you had more time together on the day that would start your marriage.

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

What if instead, you had a small private moment that calmed down both you and your groom?

Now, I will be honest. The picture I painted above is an exaggeration of some instances that I have seen and dealt with during my wedding career. But for my brides that have opted out of a first look, this is typically how they feel during most of the day. It was a rush and they do look back and wish they could have had one moment of peace and intimacy with him. However, they wanted the tradition of him seeing her for the first time when she walked down the aisle. But, in reality, they just wanted the REACTION. They wanted him to see her and get the giant, goofy grin and maybe shed a tear at how beautiful she looked. But, what they forget about, is that everyone has such high expectations of how he is going to react, and this causes him to be a nervous wreck! So he can’t fully express himself at the ceremony because typically, he is so nervous!

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

What if, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until the ceremony where his nerves will begin to creep up, what if you took him to a private place. With no people, no onlookers, and no distractions. And you, his beautiful bride, could sweetly call his name and have him turn around to see you for the first time. He would turn around and get to see you, his bride. Not only would he get to see you, he could embrace you, touch you, cry with you, and kiss you! He could enjoy the moment with you for as LONG as you two wanted. You would show him your dress, twirl a few times, and then ask him what he thinks of it. His nerves would start to diminish because he would be with the one person who made him the most comfortable and relaxed in the world. Once you two were ready, you casually moved into portrait time, because you weren’t in a rush. You had planned this all out. Then, your best friends joined you and embraced you. You moved through the bridal party portraits with no sense of urgency. Then, when you walked down the aisle to become man and wife, he could let his true emotions flow.He would know it would be all okay because he had spent the entire morning with his best friend.

After the ceremony, you could do family portraits without a sense of rush. Your photographer may pull you away for some “Just Married” shots, but it would be okay if you didn’t use the whole time allowed. You had already gotten portraits of the two of you together earlier. It was calmer and everything moved easily. You weren’t rushed and you were able to soak up every moment from the day.

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

I like how this sounds. But what else could a First look give me?

Lots people only focus on the fact that a First Look is only about time saving. However, there are so many more benefits.

40% more portraits of you two as a couple!

With a first look, you will be able to get more bang for your buck! You invest a lot into wedding photography, and you should make sure that you get the most out of it. With a First look, you would get 40% more portraits because you aren’t rushed through the portrait time!

Enjoying the moment freely

You actually get as long as you want to see him! You guys can talk, kiss, and talk about how you are feeling. There is never any rush at this part. And most brides don’t realize this, but the grooms are typically SHOCKED by how amazing you look. If you didn’t have this moment to interact with him, you would have to wait 30 minutes minimum after the ceremony to ask him. And honestly, the description isn’t as great 30 minutes afterwards.

Diminish any nerves

Like I said before, grooms are typically more nervous than you would think. I would say half of my grooms don’t like the idea of a first look, but since they haven’t ever had a wedding before, they just didn’t know how nerve racking it could be! All of them report back and say having the first look made them much more relaxed for the rest of the day!

What is a First Look and Why Should We Have One?

Heather, if I ask you to do my wedding photography, does this mean I have to do a First Look?

HECK NO. I never make my couples do this and I would never dream of forcing them to do something that they didn’t want to! While I do prefer a First Look because of everything listed above, I just want to make sure that you have all of the facts about a First Look before making the decision.

Interested in more tips and tricks for your wedding day? Check out all of the posts I have created for the Soon-To-Be-Married!

Some images in this post were shot with Kristen Wade Photography or Laura Watson Photography.

For the Soon-To-Be Married, Wedding

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  1. Meredith

    February 9th, 2018 at 3:23 PM

    YOUR PHOTOS ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

  2. Heather K Cook

    February 9th, 2018 at 7:47 PM

    You are the sweetest! Thank you!!!

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Photographing Southeastern and Atlanta Weddings & Portraits, with a classic and romantic style.

@heatherkcook

Photographing Southeastern and Atlanta Weddings & Portraits, with a classic and romantic style.

@heatherkcook