Updated: Aug 4, 2022
Ahhh, that's the question! Should we see each other before I walk down the aisle or should I arrive in all my glory to see the look of surprise on my groom's face? The nice thing is that you can't make a wrong decision- it's totally your preference. The first time you see each other on your wedding day will be a very special moment, whether it's at the altar or at a private spot before the ceremony. So let's discuss the pros and cons of each.
Your photographer can scout out a private spot which is appropriate to your situation. The optimal spot will take into consideration several things: Firstly, we don't want the bride to be seen by other guests before the ceremony. Secondly, it would be perfect if a beautiful setting was available where photos can be taken from both sides showing the surprised look on the face of the groom, and the beautiful look in the bride's eyes as she looks into the face of her starstruck groom! But it can really be anywhere that is private where both of you can have a special moment together. I like to use my longer lenses to give the bridal couple lots of space. Some couples think it's fun to have other special people around them to witness this moment... (can anyone say "helicopter parents“ LOL)!
The benefits of having a "First Look" are plenty:
- Both of you might feel more like you are doing this "marriage thing" together as opposed to just "meeting" each other at the altar. You can take some quality time to talk with each other about the day and experience this excitement together.
-You can take your "Bride and Groom" photos right after your "First Look" along with the photos with your bridal party. If your parents, siblings, and other important family members are there, then you can take your family photos as well. This means that you can go straight to Cocktail hour after the ceremony! .... and there lies the biggest reason many couples decide on a "First Look".
-Your makeup, dress, hair are all fresh and ready to be photographed!
-If you will both be getting ready at the same place, then this really makes sense.
So.....maybe I don't want to have a "First Look"!!
Well, the benefits of not doing the "First Look" are also worth noting:
- You might feel a bit rushed to get ready for photographs before the ceremony or just not have enough time. If you will be doing your "bridal couple" photos along with family shots as well, then you should try to allow at least an hour. Apart from the actual ceremony, these photos are the most important so you don't want to rush them.
-It is a magical moment when the groom turns around and sees his gorgeous bride for the first time as she walk up the aisle towards him. This moment is truly incredible. So if you as a bride want to make the most impact, then this is the way to do it! However, this moment will still be super special even if you did a "First Look" no doubt about it!
-If you will be getting dressed at different locations, then a "First Look" might not make sense logistically.
Another way to decide is to make up two timeframes, working backward from the time of your ceremony. Let's say you will both be getting ready at the same spot. If you can manage 30 minutes between all ready and the time of your ceremony, then go for it! Add at least 45 minutes for bridal party and family portraits. The larger your bridal party and family, the more time you will need. If you only have an hour of cocktails before everyone sits down to dinner, then you might want to have a "First Look" and take as many photos as possible before the ceremony.
Many brides are now requesting to do a First Look with their Dad. This is usually done as soon as the bride is ready and can be done in 10 minutes in the dressing area or right outside of it. Dads love it and it makes them feel very special. I've done a couple of separate First Looks with the Moms too. The Mom usually is helping her daughter to get ready so she would leave the dressing area for a few moments just before the bride steps into her gown.
Final Thought: What is your priority? Not seeing each other until the ceremony? Or being able to go straight from the ceremony to your waiting glass of champagne?
Tips to choose the best wedding photographer for you: