Welcome to this 5 week blog series on the things I would re-do if I got married again. It’s been 9 years since I got married and when I look back at my wedding day, there’s not much I would change. Everything went as planned and it was a super fun and smooth day. Although, now that I’m on the other end of the camera, there are a few things I would do different that would enhance our images.
One of the things I would plan differently if I could redo my wedding is a first look. My husband and I got married in 2006, back when first looks weren’t that popular. I remember talking about it with our photographer and she highly recommended it, but when it came down to it, my husband and I decided against doing a first look, and I actually don’t even remember why. That meant bridal party pictures, family pictures, and pictures of just the two of us all had to be taken after the ceremony. And that’s just what we did. By the time we got to the pictures of just the two of us, the sun was setting and we didn’t have that beautiful golden hour of light for pictures of just us! So in hindsight, I would totally do a first look so I could have gotten more images of just my husband and I together, since those were the most important to me, and so I could have spent more time with him on that day.
I photograph lots of couples who decided to do a first look and the experience is amazing for them. I think some couples think doing a first look will detract from the feelings and emotions of seeing each other for the first time coming down the aisle. I’ve never seen a first look detract fom the “traditional” wedding day experience. But since I didn’t do a first look, I asked one of my couples, Dallas & Emily, if they felt a first look took away from seeing each other at the altar. Here’s what they had to say:
Dallas & Emily’s First Look. They held balloons in front of themselves and then released them to see each other for the first time!
Are you glad you did a first look (as opposed to seeing each other for the first time coming down the isle)? If so, why? Yes! It was nice to see each other first because it calmed our nerves. It also gave us a more intimate first look. It was nice to be able to see how beautiful she looked before everyone else got to see.
Did seeing each other before the ceremony detract from seeing each other coming down the aisle? It was still just as exciting to go through that moment, but seeing each other first helped control emotions a little bit.
From a grooms perspective, what did you think of the first look experience? I liked having the first look for another reason, schedule. Having the first look that lead straight into pictures allowed us to be able to mingle with friends and family at cocktail hour. After the ceremony the whole wedding flies by so quickly every minute together counts.
I love that they said “…the whole wedding flies by so quickly every minute together counts” because it’s so true! There are months poured into all the details of planning your dream day, and when it finally arrives, it goes by fast. My husband is my best friend and I would have loved to have more time with him on the most important day of our lives, so I could talk with him, hug him, and just be around him as the excitement of exchanging our vows grew. If I had done a first look, I would have been able to spend more time with him on our wedding day!
Also, I realize that when I ask couples if they know what a first look is and if they would be open to doing one many of them don’t know exactly what it is or how it’s set up. So let me tell you how I coordinate a first look. I strive to make this an intimate time between the bride and groom. We start by bringing the groom to the location we want to do the first look. We place him with his back turned. We then escort the bride to where we want her. Then once my second shooter and I are in our spots we tell the bride to walk to her groom. Seeing the anticipation in both their faces is one of the best parts of the day. As she gets closer to her groom, we will do one of two things – tell the groom to turn around so he can see his bride walking toward him or we have him wait with his back facing her until she taps him on the shoulder for him to turn around. Once he turns around they will see each other for the first time! While this is going on my second shooter and I are photographing from a distance paparazzi style. I love all the expressions we capture when the groom turns around and sees his bride for the first time. This is a special time between the two them where they are able to hug each other and kiss and talk. The groom can spin his bride around and check out her beautiful gown that she put so much time into finding. The bride can whisper in her grooms ear telling him how handsome he looks and then they can embrace and relish in the euphoric emotions of seeing the love of their life for the first time on their wedding day. It’s so fun to see couples interact during this time – something that wouldn’t be able to happen if they saw each other for the first time at the altar.
Now that I’m on the other side of the camera I highly recommend a first look to all my clients. Not only does it help create a smooth timeline for the wedding day but there are other “pros” to having the first look:
-We’re able to get bridal party and family pictures all done before the ceremony. Groomsmen like this because it means they can get to the bar quickly and enjoy cocktail hour after the ceremony instead of taking more pictures. Bridesmaids like this because that’s when their hair and make up is fresh and their feet aren’t hurting yet. Families like it because they can greet all their guests right after the ceremony during cocktail hour instead of having to go away for more pictures.
-The brides hair and makeup are fresh!
-It helps calm pre-ceremony jitters. I hear from brides & grooms (when photographing them getting ready) how nervous they are, but the moment they see each other during that first look all the jitters and nervousness melts away!
-Right after the ceremony we whisk the two of you away to take the very first pictures of the two of you as husband and wife… as husband and wife!
I also want to mention that if you have a deeply rooted conviction about not doing a first look, I totally respect that! We will create a timeline that does not include a first look and you will still get great images from your day!
Andy’s reaction when he turned around and saw his bride for the first time is priceless. One of my favorite “First Looks” ever!
Tune in next week for the second post in this series on hiring a makeup artist.