Wedding Trends | First Look


So, the trend of doing a first look – or reveal – of the bride & groom has become quite popular over the last couple of years.  And why not?  It rocks!  But there’s still a lot of questions about it.  Does it really make the wedding day go smoother, or is it just a ploy by the wedding photographer to get photos done beforehand?  Won’t it kill some of that ‘spark’ that happens when the groom sees his bride for the first time? When I walk up behind my groom,can I pinch his butt?

It doesn’t matter the age of my clients, their budget or their style preferences; every consultation we always discuss these questions (or, a version of them).  And every time I explain how absolutely amazing a first look can be… and most of the time, we decide to do it!  Here’s why:

A first look is an event set up & staged by the wedding photographer before the ceremony that typically only involves the bride & groom.  While there is some specific detail given to both him & her by the photographer (or, at least thee should be if you’re hiring a good photographer!) about what will happen, it’s then generally left to the couple to take it at their own pace in a quiet, intimate setting to capture the most emotion in a more photojournalistic approach.

I hear so often from my brides that one of the most important shots they want captured is the look on their groom’s face when he sees her for the first time.  My reply to this is “Oh yay!  That’s one of my favorite shots too!!  Have you considered a first look to maximize this??”  Now, not that all my grooms are the same, but typically he’s standing up their at the front of the aisle in the presence of his parents, brothers, sisters & collage buddies that are just WAITING to razz on him for breaking down.  So….. he’s holding it together the best he can.  On top of that, no matter how carefully you plan your day, it still tends to have it’s own stresses & anxieties creep into it. So he’s nervous up there… in front of 150 people.  In a suit… So instead, why not eliminate the crowd?  He has to stay in the suit though.

Why first looks are Awesomesauce

  • This is one of the first events of your day.  So makeup & hair will be at it’s best.  Dress is pristine. Suits are wrinkle-free.
  • Because this is such a huge moment, no matter when photographed, it’s a momentous anxiety pit.  So if we set up the moment before ceremony, half the day’s nervousness is relived!
  • The intimacy is jacked up to the max because it’s a moment JUST for you.  While yes, the wedding day is about you two as well, what other time during the day – other than your short time of formals – is there just these moments for you to enjoy each other?
  • While it’s typically not needed as most of the emotion that comes from my couple is genuine (& they tend to forget what I suggest anyway), I always encourage my groom to give me all he’s got; ‘spin her, dip her, kiss her, laugh, cry, whatever!  Just open up for me.”  If any former groom of mine is reading this, he’s literally having a moment of deja vu.  🙂
  • Because we’ve worked out a slightly different timeline to accommodate a first look, we now will knock out all of our bridal party formals as well as individuals with the parents.  So after ceremony we’ve only got our immediate family groupings  then more time focused on just the two of you!  Bonus!!
  • …. Yes, you can pinch his butt.
“As a photographer and a bride, I recommend it. First looks can be VERY emotional. I find them way more intimate. I’d say even more so than doing it the traditional way because it’s just you two and the photog and no one else. No crowd. No need to keep walking/moving down the aisle. Just you two in a private moment. Also, you’re going to look your best fresh out of hair and make-up, you’ll have extra time for photos and you’ll get better/more creative photos when you aren’t rushed. It’s personal preference, but it definitely gets my vote.”
– dreadpiraterose via Reddit

“Don’t feel pressured into doing something you do not want to do. If you prefer having your first look as you walk down the aisle, then do that! As for it being more emotional, I know couples who did the first look prior to the ceremony, and they were still emotional as the bride walked down the aisle — the groom still gasped and teared up. It was still very sweet and romantic. I wouldn’t worry about a first look prior to the ceremony diminishing anything.”

– legallyasian87 via Reddit

Not only does this make for some amazing memories & photos, but you get to share in a private moment just between the two of you! Most couples say that their nervousness is completely gone afterwards, and that despite having seen each other before the ceremony, they still feel equally special when they walk down the isle and see their bride/groom again. Why? Because both moments are completely different. Nothing can ever replace seeing your bride/groom at the end of the isle, locking eyes for the first time and realizing that in a few minutes you will officially be one anothers 🙂 The first look, on the contrary, is more of a moment spent together, in privacy, in a slow pace – in what otherwise might be the hustle and bustle of your busy wedding day. It’s a chance for you both to soak it all in and enjoy one another 🙂

-Mustard Seed Organic Photography

What first looks miss out on

  • Uuummm… NOTHING!  Ok ok, in all honesty, the one thing I try to explain to my bride & groom is the moment my bride is looking for in his first expression has already been captured by the time ceremony starts.  But remember; its still that amazingly glorious moment!  You’re not losing out on anything other than the monotony of all your formals squeezed into a 1 hour slot.  Bonus!
  • No spark-killer.  Promise!

I really can’t give you any bad reasons why you shouldn’t do a first look.  They truly do offer a unique & intimate experience that can’t be found in another moment during the wedding day.  All in all though, I never try to pressure my client into doing something that they still don’t want to do, even with all the facts laid out before them.  If you still are looking for that moment down the aisle, by all means!  Let’s capture it that way.  Your wedding will not be flawed by keeping this part of it traditional.  🙂

Finally, here’s some of my favorite images of first looks over the years.  Enjoy!

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