Wedding Trends: The “First Look”

If you stalk any type of wedding blogs, whether it’s a photography blog or Style Me Pretty, you may have noticed some new trends emerging in the wedding industry. Today I would like to touch on one that I was able to experience for the first time at my last wedding; The First Look. Traditionally, brides and grooms don’t see each other on the wedding day until the bride is walking down the aisle. I decided to research the reasoning behind this, and from what I found it dates back to the time when arranged marriages were the norm. The bride and groom weren’t allowed to see each other until she was walking down the aisle for fear of bad luck. (If you know of other reasons please add them to the comment section below) That moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time is a moment like no other. Their emotions range from nervous to excited to relieved once the time arrives to see each other for the first time. When I first heard of photographers doing a First Look session, when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, I wasn’t sure what to think. At first I thought “No way would I even suggest that to a couple! That moment is to be reserved for the ceremony!” But after reading about it repeatedly, I decided maybe there was some merit to the idea. I saw so many amazing images from these First Look meetings, and it seemed to me as if that moment was even more meaningful than waiting for the church. To have that time alone with each other- it would be priceless. So I started casually suggesting it to my couples, with all of them turning me down. I didn’t want to push the issue with anyone; this is a highly personal decision and there is no “right” way of doing things. Finally last weekend I had a couple willing to try it. They had an evening ceremony and wanted portraits during the day, so it was out of necessity as well as it being a choice. I was nervous, to say the least. I wanted to make sure that moment was PERFECT for them. We decided to do the first look at DiSalvo’s Restaurant in Williamsport, PA in the courtyard where their wedding and reception would be held. I had Stefano (the groom) wait inside the courtyard with his back turned towards the gate, and Rachel slowly walked toward him and laid her hand on his shoulder. He turned around, and when they saw each other it was a moment like no other that I’ve experienced shooting a wedding. They had ME in tears! I stayed back as I was shooting and just let them enjoy the time together. When they were ready to move on to portraits, the first thing Stefano said to me was “Thank you! I’m so relived now!” I am a firm believer in First Looks now. So if you’re a bride reading this, consider your options before making a decision. The pros of a first look range beyond just having that moment alone with each other; to name a few, your makeup is fresh, we can get all the family shots out of the way before the wedding allowing you to get to your reception sooner, and it allows for a more relaxed wedding day. Watch for their First Look blog post coming up soon!

October 15, 2010 - 7:06 pm

Amy - Huge believer in first looks too – from the coordinator side AND from the former bride who did one side. :) It really eases a lot of tension pre-ceremony and is just a great moment to have with your future husband/wife — and photographer. Like you said, it frees up some space in a usually tight timeline to get some sweet pics done, plus your makeup and hair and dress are as clean and fresh as they’re going to get!
I love the look on my husband’s face here:

October 16, 2010 - 12:32 am

SConfair - Thanks for chiming in and sharing your experience with us Amy!

October 18, 2010 - 6:01 pm

Marci - I have never heard of that until reading your blog. I think it is a GREAT idea also. Just the look on their faces is priceless, and to capture that in photos so they will have that for the rest of their lives? Not to mention that they are alone and not in front of a crowd – such a genuine reaction!

November 19, 2010 - 3:01 pm

Shannon - Marci it is really an awesome experience. I’ll be recommending it to all my wedding couples from now on.

January 27, 2011 - 1:34 pm

Lowry - I began doing first looks about 20 years ago. No other photographer was doing it and it took a few months to perfect the sales process so brides would want to do it. Since that time, I have never had a bride refuse to do it. It got to the point that brides would come to me and it was just assumed that is how they would do the photos.

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