In the past several years, the concept of a wedding day “First Look” has really gained in popularity yet is still a somewhat new approach to wedding photography. What happens is the photographer arranges a private, intimate moment for the couple to see each other for the first time. Once the perfect spot is chosen, the Groom is positioned in such a way that he cannot see the bride who approaches him from behind (or occasionally, vice versa – every photographer has their own method of doing things) The Bride gets close, the Groom turns to see her for the first time—tears and kisses ensue, and the wonderful moment is captured by the photographer.
The history of the Groom not seeing the Bride until she walks the aisle is a tradition that dates back to (depending on what source you read) to as far as the 15th century. The concept being, that since the groom had not met or even seen his future wife before the ceremony, she’d be kept hidden to eliminate any disapproval by the groom. It was feared that once seeing her, he may have refused to proceed with the wedding or even make a run for it! The wearing of a veil over the face was one last step in keeping her hidden until the very last minute.
The First Look completely shatters that tradition in the fact that the couple now sees each other in this very orchestrated moment before the ceremony. Some choose to have their bridal party and family close by, while others prefer it just being the 2 of them. At first this was not an easy idea to convey, as couples would look at me like I was insane: “You want us to do WHAT?! No way!” I must admit that even for me, the idea was very strange at first. But after thinking it through, I really started to quickly see the value in it for both the couple as well as myself as it affords us a great deal more time.
Your wedding day zips by incredibly quickly; it’s over before you know it. As I say in my wedding consultations, “Once the Wedding Train leaves the station that day, there is no stopping it!” The decision to do a First Look can really allow you to take more time with your photos, engage in the cocktail hour to enjoy your food, and just generally let you unwind and enjoy the day. Photographs during cocktails, especially when the ceremony and reception are all at the same venue, can be a REAL time killer and are usually quite rushed, as you have only about 45 minutes to accomplish what you want due to all the distractions.
I cannot begin to tell you how much pressure this removes from the day, and how many of my couples thank me over and over afterwards for suggesting it. Not only does it let the couple slow down and really ‘take in’ everything, but it gives the photographer more time for getting creative and really capturing the day. So if you’re planning a wedding, consider giving this idea some thought. Read about it online or ask friends who have done it – you’ll slow down, have time to eat your delicious hors d’oeuvre’s, visit with loved ones and really enjoy your day!