Trent and I inadvertently did “the first look” on our wedding day. I mentioned in the last blog post, 17 Ways to Feel Relaxed on Your Wedding Day, that we chose to have most of our wedding photos before our ceremony. This gave us the feeling of having plenty of time to do our photos, without thinking about our waiting guests. The first look is typically a private photo session, with just the couple, before the marriage ceremony. As we didn’t specifically plan the first look, ours happened quite naturally. Another way that it can be done is to have the bride or groom stand in a set location, while the other partner walks up behind them and taps them on the shoulder. They then see each other for the first time in their wedding attire.
I’ll give you some reasons why you may or may not, want to do the first look and then you can decide what’s right for you.
Reasons to do the first look
- You get extra time for photos
For us, having most of our photos before the ceremony meant that we felt we had more time and were more relaxed. We were able to forget about everything else (no waiting guests at the reception) and just wandered around at a calm pace.
- More photos in the daylight
It can get dark quite early in Australia, outside of the summer season. Having more photos before the ceremony, means that you’re not racing the descend of the sun. This gives you an opportunity to get more photographs; the first look images can be very intimate and special. They can then flow into bridal party photos; so, you get a lot of great shots.
- It can calm the nerves and allow you to display emotion privately
Most wedding ceremonies take place in the late afternoon. This gives time for the build-up of emotions. Seeing each other beforehand gives you a chance to connect and have a calming hug. You may also shed a tear or two of joy, or have a nervous giggle, and may prefer to do this uninhibited, without an audience.
- You get back to your guests faster
Once the ceremony is completed, you won’t be gone for hours having your photos taken. This means that you can have a later ceremony (ours was 4pm in September) and you can start the celebrations with your guests sooner. Some guests may have come from overseas or interstate to see you, so it’s great to be able to spend as much time with them as possible. Don’t miss the fun at cocktail hour!
Reasons not to do the first look
- You have to get ready earlier
Getting ready needs to get pushed forward (but you can have a later ceremony). You want these photos to happen about two hours (plus travel time) before the ceremony, so you don’t run the risk of bumping into early guests.
- You won’t be married yet in these photos
Your wedding rings won’t be on in the photos and your partner will see you in your wedding attire, before you’re married. Does this bother you? To me, the photos were a celebration of our whole wedding day, not just after we got married.
- You may not be as fresh as a daisy for the ceremony
It’s best to also allow time to touch up your makeup (if you shed a few tears) or just have a general refresh beforehand. You also need to be careful that your dress/clothing doesn’t pick up any dirt, depending on the location of the first look photos. You may need to pack a little kit to repair/refresh.
- It may change the mood
You may want the build-up of nervous energy/excitement. You may want to share the special moment that you see each other for the first time in your wedding attire, and the emotions that arise, with your family and friends. You can ask your parents/significant others how they would feel if you did the first look before the ceremony. Personally, I felt that my aisle walk was still wonderful and heart-warming, even though we’d seen each other beforehand.
Seeing each other at the ceremony was still special; just a bit more composed (photos by Murray Redpath).
It’s Your Day
Whether you do the first look intimately or with your guests, is a decision that you can make with your partner, depending on what you feel most comfortable with and what’s important to you. My advice is to be yourself and don’t feel that you have to act. Let your emotions and the little moments arise naturally. Whatever you choose, I’d love to be your celebrant.