I am asked this question a lot when booking with new brides! I always like to clarify that I am not trying to push a first look onto anyone. I think both ways of seeing the person you are marrying are beautiful. I think both ways have their pros and cons! I am just talking today about what those pros are for a first look!
This wedding season I have photographed more first looks than ever before. As I don't like to say you have to do a first look there are many benefits of it that I wanted to bring to the table. Whether you choose to do one or not is totally your call, but at least now you have all the information you need below to help make your decision!
You get to spend YOUR wedding day with YOUR husband, or wife!
This is my biggest pro to having a first look! Your wedding day is to celebrate your love for each other and to make promises to the love of your life, and half the time the bride and groom only see each other for a few hours out of the day! When you have a first look you have the entire day together (besides the getting ready portion)! You can laugh together, tell stories about what happened after the rehearsal ended, oh and look googly eyed at each other (reference image above) all day long :)
I think the best story I have for this is my brother and sister in laws wedding. As we know, rain can be very stressful on a wedding day! Brides check the whether non stop once the countdown turns into single digits. Well, when it was my brothers turn for marriage the forecast called for rain and they were suppose to have an outdoor ceremony! About a half hour before the ceremony we asked my sister in law if she wanted to move the ceremony to be safe and the only thing she asked was that her and Brandon (my brother) be able to make that decision together. That was tough since they were waiting until the ceremony to see each other. With a first look you have the opportunity to make these decisions together. You have time to talk them over and you even have that one person who means the most to calm you down, if need be!
Less pressure when you see each other in front of all family and friends!
Personally, this would sell me! Having all eyes on you can be nerve racking no matter what. I find that most of my brides are more nervous to walk down the aisle and be the center of attention than they are to actually get married! When you see each other before hand it takes the pressure off. He has already seen you so now there is a little weight lifted while the rest of the family and friends gathered check you out. You have more time to breath!
More time for pictures mean more pictures!
By seeing each other before hand we can take more time for pictures because once the day is gone those will be what helps you remember how important, and beautiful, your wedding day was. With not having the pressure of only one hour immediately after the ceremony that means we can relax and have fun during portrait time (not that we don't do that anyways). This means that if we get everything we need to accomplished before the ceremony that directly after you can go enjoy your cocktail hour. I mean, how often do you see the bride and groom at their own cocktail hour?
And cushion if we need it!
As human beings, we aren't perfect! We can all spend hours sculpting the perfect timeline, but that doesn't mean it will be followed as we wish. More times than not, at least one thing runs behind on wedding days, and some times that's portrait time! This means we thought we had an hour scheduled in but now we really only have 30 minutes for the entire bridal party and you and your new hubby! With a first look, if that happens there is additional cushion to work with after the ceremony! Cocktail hours are usually for portrait time. So, if we don't get everything done before the ceremony like we wanted then there is still plenty of additional time after! This means less stress and more pictures :)
A lot of times when discussing a first look vs the tradition, I always hear people say that they think first looks get less of a reaction. Well, Stephen (the groom below) is here to prove you wrong! Having a first look makes the moment more intimate. It's just you two and a couple really big zoom lenses to capture the moment (that means we aren't in your face). Now when you see your bride, or groom, for the first time you can actually pull them in for a kiss, give them a twirl to see more of their dress or just stand back and admire their beauty. Like Stephen said, "Guys, I get to marry this today!"
Stephen & Katelynn also decided to read their vows to each other while they were alone, instead of in front of everyone. I have to admit, seeing them pray together before turning around and then reading their vows made me a little (ok, a lot) sappy! I was so happy to be able to witness this exchange of so much love and to capture the reactions the entire way through!