February 6, 2013

First Looks & Why We Love Them

I’m always planning an imaginary wedding.  When you get married at 19 & 21 you hardly know how to plan your next meal let alone a wedding.  So, needless to say, there are SO many things I’d do differently now…dress, hair, flowers, makeup, decor, location, food…basically, the only thing I wouldn’t change is the groom.  If we could go back and re-do it all over again the one thing that we both really wish we could do is have that private First Look moment before the ceremony for just the two of us.  We didn’t know it even was an option at the time, which is why we wanted to write this post.  We wanted to talk you through why we love First Looks!  We don’t push our couples one way or the other because it’s their decision to make, and choosing to do or not do a First Look is extremely personal.  We would like to at least present the option in case it’s something you’ve never thought or heard about like us!

When we first got into the wedding photography business we were against this idea.  We live in the south where tradition states the groom can’t see his bride before the wedding.  We thought if a couple did a First Look it would ruin the “feeling” when she walks down the aisle.  We felt this way for a long time until Kristen & Doug’s July 2011 wedding.  They were our first couple to do a First Look, and we tell them thanks all the time for opening our eyes to how powerful & meaningful of a moment it can be.  Their reasoning for doing a First Look was simple, they wanted to start their marriage off on a Godly path by praying and reading scripture together before they said their I-dos.  As we stood back and watched this moment unfold, I had tears in my eyes.  To this day, it’s still one of the most beautiful things I’d seen at a wedding.

Most people think, like us, that if the couple sees each other before the wedding then there won’t be that magical moment when the bride walks down the aisle. We’ve actually found the opposite to be true.  Our couples who have done First Looks say there are really 2 moments: the one during the First Look, and the when the bride walks down the aisle because that moment is when they’re actually getting married. Grooms tend to let their guard down more when it’s just him and his bride alone in a private moment.  Standing at the end of the aisle in front of his friends and family, grooms can tend to be much more stoic since everyone is watching to see if he’s going to cry!

Not all grooms are criers, but sometimes they’re high-fivers, big huggers, or just want to walk around their bride and take in her beauty. Either way it’s always a magical, memorable moment.  Our couples who have done First Looks always come back to us and say that was the favorite part of their day!  How special is that?!

From a timeline perspective seeing each other before the ceremony makes the day flow so much more smoothly.  It allows time to take all the wedding party and couples portraits before the ceremony, so that afterwards all that’s left to take are family portraits.  Those typically only take 15-20 minutes, which means you get to your reception much more quickly!  Plus it means we can spend as much time as you like on your portraits.  If you want 2 hours worth of photos together we can do it!  They day is about the two of you, so why should we have to rush the most important photos of the day by waiting until after the ceremony to take them?

Doing a first look also gives you about 40% more portraits than if you don’t see each other.  Again, who wouldn’t want more portraits from on their wedding day?!  The moments that happen during a first look are beautiful portraits within themselves.  We’ve had couples make huge canvas prints out of First Look moments, simply because they felt like those photos were more natural, un-staged representations of themselves!

Because wedding days are stressful and typically filled with nerves, there’s almost always a moment of laughter during the First Look.  A moment when the couple finally breathes deep, relaxes, and realizes that the day they’ve worked so hard for has finally arrived.

So how does a First Look work you ask?  It’s simple.  When a couple chooses to do a First Look, the first thing Kyle & I will do when we arrive at the venue is scout out the perfect location for the moment.  Once we find the perfect place & it’s time, we’ll have the groom stand facing away from where the bride will be walking towards him.  Then we’ll have the bride start walking towards him, and from there we just let the moment unfold.  As she walks up to him, you can see the nerves & excitement in his expression.  When she’s close enough she’ll tap him on the shoulder, and as he turns around to see her standing before him he will, without fail, have the biggest smile on his face!  We stand back and photograph this genuine moment until the couple tells us they’re done.  Sometimes it’s 2-3 minutes, sometimes it’s 10-15.  We just let it happen, because that time is all about them.  It’s all about the love they share and time together to take in everything that’s going on around them.  Honestly, it’s our favorite part of a wedding day!

We hope this has shown you that First Looks don’t take away from a wedding day, but actually can add to it!  We truly believe choosing to do a First Look will add more to your wedding day than you could ever imagine!

If you did a First Look at your wedding we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.  Leave us a link to your pictures too, even if we didn’t take them!