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Whew! It’s been a hot minute since we had a little heart-to-heart chat, and I knew that needed to change! 🙂 As I’ve been meeting with prospective brides over the past few weeks, I remembered how conflicted the topic of first looks can be. So I thought it’d be fun to talk about first looks on the blog! There are so many ways your wedding day timeline can look, it can almost feel overwhelming and a little daunting. Plus, when you don’t entirely know what a first look is or what all it entails, it can be easy to dismiss the idea altogether. So, if you’re a prospective bride, read on to get a better idea of what a first look is and why it’s an amazing part of any wedding day!


I want to start off by saying your wedding day is exactly that… yours! Don’t ever let anyone (myself included) make you feel bad about choosing a plan that doesn’t fit your dream for your best day ever. Yes, there are a whole bunch of benefits to having a first look. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that you should do one on your wedding day because it’s amazing! But, no, you should never feel pressure from anyone into doing something you don’t want to do. Because, when it comes down to it, what matters on your wedding day is you and your spouse. Your opinion takes the number one spot! But that doesn’t mean I can’t try and convince you to come to the other side! 🙂

What is a First Look?
Let’s start with the basics. A first look is a time set aside before the wedding ceremony where just the bride and groom (and the photographer) get to spend some quiet time together alone to see each other before they exchange vows. It is an intimate, joy-filled time where a bride and groom get to share a “first look” at each other before walking down the aisle. After several minutes enjoying each other’s presence (with the photographer capturing candid photos), the timeline moves seamlessly into bride and groom formal portraits and then full bridal party portraits. All, before the ceremony has even begun! 
It’s a Guy Thing
Believe it or not, my biggest objectors to the first look aren’t brides! Surprised? It sure surprised me when I was first starting out in wedding photography! After all, the number one reason I thought I’d hear against doing a first look was the bride wanting to preserve her groom’s reaction for the moment she walks down the aisle. But more and more, I’m realizing it’s actually more of a groom thing! So, if your groom is hesitant, it might be because of one or more of these reasons:

  • He doesn’t know what a first look is.
  • The idea of deviating from a traditional wedding day hasn’t crossed his mind.
  • He doesn’t think you want to do a first look.
  • He wants to wait to see you when you walk down the aisle.

More often than not, I find about 95% of my “reluctant grooms” fall in that first category, so if a first look is something you’re interested, it might just take a little education to win him over.

Why do a first look?
There are so many reasons first looks are incredible. I’ll give you my top two:

  • You and your groom get special time together on your wedding day where it’s just the two of you enjoying each other’s presence. That’s unheard of in a traditional wedding day timeline. Brides and grooms who opt out of a first look get little to zero time together on the wedding day just the two of them. By the time the bride walks down the aisle, the ceremony is over in a flash, and then you blink and your wedding is over and you wonder where the day went! You are surrounded by friends and family who love you (and it’s incredible!!) but who also want to be around you the entire day because it’s your wedding day, of course! You don’t even get a chance to look your future spouse in the eyes and tell them how amazing they look and take it all in without hundreds of other eyes also staring back at you! But with a first look, you get that intimate, emotional moment alone, shared with only each other, and that is the most special reason to do a first look.
  • You get so many more portraits and so much more time if a first look is incorporated into your wedding day timeline. When you do a first look, ALL your formal portraits (aside from family formals, typically) will be done before your wedding has even officially begun! That means, after your ceremony, you take just a few quick family pictures, and then you are free and ready to keep the party momentum going as you enter the reception filled with all your guests quickly! Guests aren’t waiting hours for you to arrive to the reception, and you don’t feel rushed during portrait time because we take care of it before the ceremony even begins. That equals more time for portraits and that leads to more actual portraits, especially of the two of you! And when it comes down to it, these are the portraits you’ll be cherishing for the rest of your lives. You don’t want them to be rushed, and you’ll want lots more of them to look back on.
But I want him to cry when I walk down the aisle!
It’s a valid objection. Every girl wants her groom to be so filled with emotion when he sees her walk down the aisle to become his wife that he can’t help but tear up. But the common misconception is that it won’t happen if you share a first look with your groom beforehand. That is just wrong! 🙂 Hear me out on this!
Walking down the aisle is an unmatched, unique moment. 
And that is still true even if you’ve shared a first look beforehand. There is nothing like seeing your bride, the love of your life, walking down the aisle to become your wife on your wedding day. And there is nothing like walking toward your groom, your very best friend, as he stands waiting to pledge his life to you as your husband on your wedding day. It’s just an unmatched experience, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment. That will not change if you’ve shared a first look beforehand. Your groom isn’t going to be standing up at the altar thinking to himself, “Ah, well I’ve already seen her today. She looks okay, I guess.” NO! If anything, he will be even more filled with emotion because he’s already seen you. He’s gotten the wedding day nerves out a bit. He’s not as stressed or anxious. His raw emotion has the ability to flow more freely because he isn’t inhibited by the nervousness and natural anticipation that comes with any wedding day. I would even posit he is able to be more emotional if you’ve shared a first look beforehand because you’ve gotten those wedding jitters out. Regardless, the walk down the aisle is unparalleled. It’s the climax of every wedding day. It’s pivotal and symbolic and oh so special, and it always will be. And I’d argue, having a first look only enhances that moment.
I hope you feel a little more knowledgeable about first looks and are better equipped to think about whether incorporating one into your wedding day would be right for you as a couple. Either way, whatever you decide, it’s going to be an amazing day. After all, it’s your wedding!! And I’d love to help you keep planning for it! Questions? Feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help in any way I can! 🙂

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October 1, 2018

Why should I do a first look? | Client Education Series

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Nichole Lauren is a photographer & business coach in Greenville, SC & available for travel worldwide.

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