The First Look

My brides know my deep love for “First Looks”. There is a reason for this. They’re AWESOME. However, not everyone knows how awesome they are because they get lost in the how “un-traditional” it is and immediately write it off. I personally can say that because this thought crossed my mind when I was a bride. I wanted my hubby to be so surprised and emotional when he first saw me!

Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? who doesn’t want that reaction? Luckily, I was able to have the best of both worlds because Bini and I decided to share an intimate “First Look” moment on our wedding day and we both LOST IT when I came down the aisle! Walking down the aisle on my wedding day was a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime!!

Also the traditional waiting to walk down the aisle to see one another isn’t as romantic as you may think.

This tradition goes back centuries when arranged marriages were very popular. The bride and groom weren’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all. The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families (not so romantic). The father of the bride would want his daughter to marry a man that was apart of a wealthy family that also owned land. The father of the bride feared that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and thought that she wasn’t attractive, he’d call of the wedding. (I know in every single one of our love stories…. this is not the case…)

After experiencing my own wedding and shooting many others… I have come to realize that some brides love “traditions”… (even though they may not know the backstory)

What a bride REALLY wants when her groom sees her for the first time is a REACTION.

Those that are not interest in a first look usually think seeing each other beforehand, they will loose part of that reaction. They also think that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. Everyone knows that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and groom.  The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, they need to be on time, the groom has no idea what side the flower is supposed to go on and little by little… the tension grows.

Picture this- The groom has been spending all day with his friends, but now it is time to actully do this. The groom enters the ceremony and what does he find? …. he finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful. … I already said that walking down the aisle was one of the BEST PARTS of my WHOLE wedding day!! It’s magical!! ….. But when I walked down the aisle… Bini  wasn’t a nervous wreck…he had spent the morning with me and our best friends and the pressure was OFF. By the time our ceremony rolled around he was ready to ENJOY our beautiful day!  The nerves were gone and when the nerves are gone… true emotions are free to be expressed.

So if I were to condense what I just wrote… basically, Grooms normally become incredibly nervous on wedding days…. even if they seem cool and collected.  For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her… all of a sudden everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony…. what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and  you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, walk up to him and gently tap his shoulder.  He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one that can make him most comfortable anyway.

Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits.  No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure.  It’s just the two of them and their photographer….. capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First Look…. it doesn’t.  After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends.  Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup while the boys act like boys.  After a few minutes the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN. They’re FUN because there is time to make them FUN.  There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check.  It’s wonderful!

After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony.  The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony.  As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement.  The musics builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead.  The groom looks up and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning.  The closer she gets, the bigger his smile.

Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are NOT required to do a First Look… AT ALL.

This is totally up to the bride and groom. I sometimes feel bad for mentioning and encouraging couples to do it but I’ve gotten over that phase. I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look!  It’s just my preference to do one:) Ok, now lets keep going.

Couples who opt for a First Look experience these benefits:

– You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography and with a first look, you get 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you decorate your first home with! (Believe me, our house is PACKED full of our portraits!)  This is a huge investment for you and so obviously your photography is a BIG deal. With a first look, you make the most out of this huge investment and get the most for your money.

– You actually get intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Normally, most people think walking down the aisle is the BIGGEST, most emotional moment of the whole day because that is what the tradition is. But people don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look… he can’t touch you or embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 40 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 40 minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.

– First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time.  With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day.  The WHOLE first half of our wedding album is filled with just images from this time together before the ceremony. I’m so grateful I had time to relax and get some great images with the people that I care about the most!

– First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. When Bini and I saw each other, not only was it intimate, it was our ONLY time to be alone… the whole day! We cried and laughed and cried some more… and then that put us in the PERFECT mood for our romantic portraits. Normally portraits are rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other and I always capture some SWEET images during those moments!

– You get rid of the nerves. I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have done a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms that initially weren’t a fan of the first look.. but afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!

Go ahead and break those traditions. Rules are meant to be broken anyways right? I promise you won’t regret breaking this tradition.

Comment below what you think about first looks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

see services

Are these the kind of photos you are dreaming of? 
Let's make it a reality!

Let's Work Together

I'm Lindsey! Senior, Wedding, and Brand photographer based in Minot, ND. Sharing my love of photos that look like you right in this moment.

Meet Lindsey


see services