After the dress has been put on and the tie has been tied, it’s time to see each other! But…at the ceremony or at a first look? The question of whether or not a couple should do a first look is one we receive more than any other, so we thought we would bring you some insight from our past experiences and the people who are prepared to give you the best advice — our couples themselves! This post includes interviews from couples who did choose to have a first look. Stay tuned for next week when we’ll share thoughts from our couples who did not have a first look!
There are several reasons you might decide to have a first look, and we wanted to share some of those with you today. However, keep in mind that this is your wedding and you don’t need to do something for someone else’s reason! If you’re on the fence, though, here are some helpful thoughts!
Reason #1: Comfort
“It is easy to let your wedding day control you; to let your amazing family and friends, the beautiful details you’ve spent months choosing, and the general feeling of celebration distract you from your spouse-to-be. For me, this loss of control became overwhelming in the last hour or two before the ceremony. My then groom is my best friend and the loss I felt was worse when I was kept away from him. (Let’s be honest. All eyes will be on you, which is kind of scary.) And so, the stolen moments in relative privacy were a welcome emotional relief that allowed me to ground myself in the larger reason I was there; to ground myself in him.” -Amy (see more of their beautiful wedding at Merry Hill here!)
It’s easy to forget in the midst of wedding day fun that the person you are marrying is your person. They are always the one that comforts you, that you tell everything to, and sometimes it’s helpful to just see them before all of the big events of your wedding day. Our bride Natalie said, “It reminded me that the most important part of the wedding was the person I was marrying. It takes the pressure off the intense moment when you are walking down the aisle and everyone is looking at you. All day I wanted to see my fiance and our first look gave us time to ourselves before the big event.” You can see more from their wedding at the Bradford here!
Reason #2: Double the photos
Trust us, you’re going to get plenty of photos on your wedding day. However, depending on where your first look is, you might be able to get photos in different locations than your post-ceremony or sunset photos and that can be worth it. For example, DC and Evan had a destination wedding at Charleston and took photos at their Air Bnb before their ceremony. They also got photos later in the evening as well, which gave them a much larger assortment to choose from for their album…and multiple memories of time together on their wedding day. See more from their beautiful Charleston wedding here! If having photos in multiple locations is important to you, a first look might be a great time to do that!
Reason #3: Weather & season plan
Once upon a time, there was a bride who woke up on her wedding day in the middle of a hot summer in North Carolina to a slow drizzle. “Perfect,” she thought. “I’ve got my good luck and it will stop raining before the ceremony so that we can have it outside!”
It did stop raining. It didn’t rain on the way to the venue. It didn’t rain while she got ready with her friends. It didn’t rain as she had her hair and makeup done and when she put on her dress. But all of that changed the minute she stepped outside with her dad to walk down the aisle, and a summer storm hit at just that moment.
That bride was me, friends. And our wedding day was one of the most beautiful days of our lives. Rain or not, yours will be, too. And luckily, that summer storm passed and I got to walk down the aisle twice and we had a lovely, cooler evening. But we can’t make that guarantee to you, and if the forecasts are calling for rain, we certainly can’t guarantee that you’re going to be able to steal those moments for yourselves outside umbrella-free after your ceremony. If the weather is great during your first look, that is a guarantee that you are going to have that time (and those photos)! If that’s something that’s important to you, we recommend you consider a first look!
Similarly, at some parts of the year (late fall, winter, early spring), the sun will set very early. If your ceremony is planned for the traditional 5:00 pm, it might be hard for you to get those sunset photos afterwards because you might be in the middle of your first dance! Having a first look is a way for you to make sure you’re going to have that time together if your wedding happens at a time of the year when the sun sets early.
Reason #4: The reaction still exists
Amy said this best, “For those of you who worry that if you have a first look, you will not get that adorable moment of him seeing you for the first time walking down the aisle, I have pictorial proof that you absolutely will get that moment. My theory is that it is more about the fact that you are walking down the aisle towards him and less about how you look doing it.”
Many of our brides and grooms want that reaction shot of the groom when the bride is walking down the aisle toward him. Trust us, that reaction is still going to be there. One way to play this up is to not wear your veil during your first look and save it for that walk down the aisle. Sometimes that final bridal piece is enough to make it feel like a different moment entirely. Whether or not you wear a veil, though, don’t forget: the first look and the ceremony are inherently different. You only walk away from one married!
Reason #5: Time for yourself
Our sweet bride, Natalie, said, “I’m glad we had the first looks. It was a private, intimate moment that we shared between ourselves first. After the stress of planning and getting everything ready for that one day. It felt peaceful and stress relieving.” What did her adorable groom, Matthew, say? “Seeing her with that smile, the dress, she looked… stunning!” See their wedding in Princeton, NJ here!
Amy said, “The first look allowed us to the time to come together and face the rest of the day as a team. To have a crowd be witness to the first time we saw each other in all our glory would have rocked me enough emotionally that I am not sure I would have been able to focus on him during the ceremony. Honestly, I have no idea when we would have had another chance to steal moments for ourselves. So, without the first look, I suspect it would have been a struggle to feel truly present for any of our amazing wedding.”
We tell this to our brides and grooms often. There will not be enough time on your wedding day for each other (and often, you will see us more than you see each other)! The first look gives you a little bit of that time back before everyone is trying to hug you/get a selfie with you/twist and shout on the dance floor with you.
Choose your own adventure!
- Read reasons for why you should not have a first look here!
- Want more wedding-related advice? Check these posts out!
- Want to see us in your inbox twice a month with some helpful tips? Sign up for our love letters here!