It’s likely you’ve heard the term “First Look.” Maybe you even know someone who had one at their wedding and swears by it; but you’re still not really sure about it. What is a First Look anyway? How does it work? Do you want one? This blog post is loaded with info to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you want to share a First Look with your fiancé on your wedding day!

Your Photographer’s Perspective

As your wedding photographer I have one major goal: to ensure you have the best experience possible (while also delivering beautiful images of course)! There is certainly no right or wrong way to experience your wedding day. It’s your day after all! The decision to see each other before the ceremony is a big one, and it has feel right for you.

The superstition to not see each other before the ceremony dates back to a time when arranged marriage was the norm. While it’s origins might come as a surprise to you, this superstition has evolved over the years and still interests those who desire a more traditional wedding. These days more and more modern couples are prioritizing their weddings to focus on experience and personalization. The First Look is quickly becoming a beloved tradition for about half of our couples. Personally, I am a BIG fan! I’m excited to share my insights with you in the next few paragraphs.

A Bride and Groom share a first look at their vineyard wedding at Preston Ridge Vineyard in Preston CT.

What is a First Look?

A first look is when the couple decides to see each other before the ceremony. Why might one do this, you ask? Lot’s of reasons! To calm nerves, to make time for more photos, to utilize a secondary location, to extend their time together… the list goes on. First looks may vary in length and detail for each couple but the overall goal is to share a moment alone together before you say I do. Most of our couples who incorporate a First Look choose to complete a portion (if not all) of their formal bridal party and family portraits before the ceremony. This allows for more photos and/or mingling after the ceremony.

A Bride and Groom share a first look at Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy MA.

Advantage #1: Emotion

A bride and groom share a first look at their wedding in Warwick Rhode Island.

Picture this; You’re walking down the aisle passing the 100+ faces of your beloved family and friends. At the top of the aisle what do you see? Is your soon to be spouse holding back tears, are they gushing, or are they smiling wildly? This moment right here is one of the BIG moments I hear about most often. When I ask my couples what they’re most excited for I often hear “the look on their face, when they see me coming down the aisle.”

There is nothing like walking down the aisle. Rest assured with or without a First Look, nothing could take away the butterflies you’ll feel when you hear the music playing and everyone you love stands to see you for the first time. This magical moment is fleeting, when you reach your better half you’ll take your place by their side and you’re officiant will begin the ceremony promptly. Oh how you’ll crave to reach out and touch them. You’ll want to hear them say how stunning you are and you’ll want to lean in and kiss those lips!!! But you’ll have to wait! That expression you were so excited to see, your view of your loved one as you make your way down the aisle is often times blocked by cellphones and cameras in the hands of well-meaning guests who are excited to capture your special moment.

Now picture this; You’re about to share a First Look. The ceremony isn’t for a couple of hours and you have lots of time to get to the location you’ve hand picked for sharing this special moment together. It’s quiet, serene, and there aren’t 100 faces all turned to see you and your fiancé’s reaction… it’s just the two of you. So you can be you. As you approach them for the first time, you can feel your heart beating inside your chest. Calling their name, they spin around (they have been anxiously awaiting your arrival no doubt). You see their face, up close and personal, and you reach for them. You see the tears behind their eyes, you see the elation spread across their face. You literally hear the air escape from their lips as you take their breath away. They reach for your hand, and step back to take it all in. Maybe you do a twirl to show off the details of that gorgeous dress you’ve been hiding from them for the past 12 months. This moment is yours; and it’s all being captured discreetly from your team of professionals, preserved forever. Frozen in time.

I have watched otherwise stoic grooms melt at the sight of their brides during their first look. Why? Because they can. Because it’s a private moment, and they can let their guard down. I have captured quiet moments of complete content as couples hold onto each other in silence; soaking it all in. I have witnessed couples share the most intimate moments wiping away tears and sharing fits of joyful laughter; Because they can. One thing is certain, First Looks are full of emotion and you never really know what to expect, but the nice thing is you’ll have the time and the liberty to experience it in a way that is uniquely you.

A Bride and Groom dance on the docks of Harbor Lights in Warwick Rhode Island.

Advantage #2: The Party

The second most common thing I hear my couple say that they are most excited about is getting to the celebration. The great advantage of doing a First Look and taking your photos before the ceremony, is that you have the potential to enjoy your cocktail hour. Traditionally, wedding portraits takes place during cocktail hour. How awesome would it be to greet your guest at cocktail hour, enjoy the music or live band, and even sip on one of your signature cocktails. Since your bridal party and family will meet you for portraits immediately following your first look they too will be able to enjoy cocktail hour; and trust me they will thank you!

A bride and Groom enjoy their cocktail hour at their Warwick RI wedding.
A bride joins her cocktail hour at Harbor Lights in Warwick Rhode Island.

Advantage #3: The Timeline

Your day should be stress free! Together we build a timeline that allows you to capture everything you want with ample time. This insures you’re not rushing, stressed or worried you’re missing something. Adding a First Look to your timeline gives you even more flexibility. You want to head down to that beach or mansion for photos? We can! Have lots of extra groupings you’d like portraits of? Not a problem! With a First Look we get to decide the start time, you’re not stuck cramming a bunch of portraits into a one hour allotment of time.

Bride and Groom embrace on the docks of Crystal Lake Country Club in Mapleville RI.

Advantage #4: The Portriats

It goes with out saying when you add a First Look to your day, you’re allowing time for more photos. Perhaps your portraits took place at a special location and now you’d like to take a few more at the venue. Or perhaps you’d like to capture candids of your cocktail hour as well as have documentation of your stellar reception decor. With your formal portraits already accomplished we are able to capture even more unexpected moments, allowing us to focus on all of your guests who are there to celebrate with you, as well as the details that set the scene.

Same sex couple shares an intimate moment on their wedding day at the Graduate Hotel in Providence Rhode Island.

Advantage #5: Parent First Looks

First looks aren’t just for you and your soon to be spouse; they can be for bridal party or family members too. I adore Father-Daughter first looks, or any variation of the sort. Designating a special moment with the people in your life who have been there all along, is an unforgettable and heart warming way to say “thank you” or “I love you”.

A bride shares a first look with her father on her wedding day.
A bride shares a first look with her father at Granite Links Golf Club.

Want to see a real wedding featuring a beautiful First look? Click Here!

Looking for First Look location ideas? Send me a message!

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