We are often asked by our brides & grooms ”what is the first look?” I created a wedding day timeline and tips guide that briefly explains how it works, but recently I decided to do a little more research into why grooms were never allowed to see their brides until at the ceremony.
As I started my research, I found many different stories, variations, and reasons. The most popular reason and from where I believe this tradition stemmed from, is that way back in the day (does that sound too old school to say that?) marriages were arranged. (I’m so glad we don’t follow that tradition anymore) And the groom’s family would be required to pay a dowry to the family of the bride. They never allowed the groom to see the bride before the ceremony, because if he saw that she was unattractive he might call off the wedding bringing shame and embarrassment to the family. This is also the reason behind why brides wear a veil.
Thankfully there are not many arranged marriages in this part of the world. I am sure guys are thankful that they dont have to pay for their bride as well.
Coming back to the first look… I definitely want to speak as a bride. I was a bride before I was a photographer. I am not writing this to pursuade you one way or another, but rather to share how I felt as a bride.
I did not want to see Cory before our ceremony. Cory wanted to, but I was adamant about sticking to tradition. Now However, in retrospect, I wish I had seen Cory before for many reasons. One, we did not have any time to ourselves on the day of our wedding. We spent the entire day separated. Then immediately after the ceremony we were greeting guests (my cheeks hurt so badly from smiling through the entire receiving line), then to our reception, we were immediately swept away by guests congratulating us,and all of the reception festivities. It wasn’t until we were in the car on the way to our hotel that we had a true moment to ourselves, to relish in the moment of our wedding day. Another reason I wish I had a first look was that I did not have enough time for photos. We tried to fit in a receiving line, family photos, group photos, our photos, and a 30 minute commute into the hour between our ceremony and reception. Plus, it took time away from the reception, and spending time with my family and friends. The very thing I put the most time and effort into, I didn’t get to enjoy as much as I had hoped.
My main reason for not seeing Cory, was that I wanted to see his reaction to me as I walked down the aisle. The funny thing is, I barely took notice of Cory at the end of the aisle, I was taking notice and smiling at everyone else. Not to mention I was so nervous!!! However, now knowing that there is a first look and what it entails, I wish I could of seen Cory’s reaction to seeing me on my wedding day in our own private moment. I wish we could have enjoyed the whole day, taking in those once in a lifetime moments together.
From what our brides & grooms have said. They were so glad they did a first look. They all say they loved getting to see each others reaction to each other and LOVE having that private moment together before the craziness of the day starts! They also loved taking all of their photos prior to the ceremony so they could enjoy the rest of their evening with friends and family. As an added bonus they said the first look really helped calm their nerves.
Most of our couples say that even when they do the first look, there is still an element of surprise and emotion when it comes to the ceremony. Because this time, you have a room full of guests, and this time it is really happening. The groom sees his bride walking down the aisle, with her father getting ready to give his little girl away. It is a completely different set of emotions! More times than not, grooms cry more than brides. They say that doing the first look didn’t take away anything from that moment when the ceremony began.
So how does a first look work?
We usually position the groom outside in a private area, hotel lobby, or the ceremony room. We place his back to the entrance where his bride will enter. When they are both ready, the bride slowly walks up to the groom and gently taps him on the shoulder, as the groom turns around Cory and I capture that moment. We capture a few photos of the tears, smiles, hugs & kisses, and then we quietly excuse ourselves and allow the bride and groom have a few minutes of alone time.
We only share this because it’s one of the things we always hear our couples say they wish they would have done. We totally understand if you don’t want to see each other before, and we’ll work with you to set up a timeline that will still give you the awesome photos you want.
If you did a first look, what did you think about it?