Wedding Wednesday | The First Look

The controversial First Look. You know, the moment where it's just you and your groom, and your photographer. But do you consider the First Look a time for before the ceremony, or as the doors swing open and your groom peeks at you for the first time as you sway down the aisle?

I find it's pretty close to 50/50 with our clients; half want the iconic tradition and build up of the moment, and the other half want to get through the pictures so they can relax and enjoy the day with their guests.

Mie and Keith see each other for the first time at their outdoor wedding last July; Photo by Anna Weaver & Josh Hayes

I think most photographers lean toward having a first look pre-ceremony, and as long as the moment is well thought out and sans bridal party or other onlookers in your space, it really can be such a beautiful capture. Jose Villa was recently interviewed by Southern Belle Calder Clark, and he is one photographer that does not like to stage the moment; he prefers that swinging door moment all the way:

JV: I’m not a big fan of the “first peek” or “first look”. It’s so set up, even if you try your best to make it look natural, not very organic. Yes of course the couple will show their genuine love for each other in their wedding attire when they see each other. I love when the couple sees each other as they walk down the aisle at their ceremony. Nothing can re-create the emotions from the couple and the family. You can’t get more genuine emotion and love than that. {Via Calder Clark Designs Blog}

I personally prefer the pre-ceremony first look. Almost every time, it tends to calm nerves, and I think the photos that come out of it are just so much more raw. As in, emotion, eyes only on each other, and I find the end result has a better job of capturing the couple up close and personal, vs. from far away as you come down the aisle. And, I'll say it- I figure you've spent the money on a fabulous cocktail hour, and I just like the bride and groom to be able to be a part of it.

Choosing to see each other before the wedding ceremony is such a personal preference, and there's really not a right answer....just a few thoughts to keep in mind.

1) Your timeline will be even tighter, and possibly longer: You'll have all the girls' photos, then all the guys' photos, then each of the families associated with either you or your groom. Then once the ceremony is over, plan on at least 45 minutes- 1 hour of additional married photos after.

2) You'll likely miss your cocktail hour: It's not a terrible thing, you'll just likely be introduced right into dinner or your highlight dances. But to me, the cocktail hour is often the most relaxed and has just the right level of imbibing and chatting (read: before the late-night partying begins..when you can barely talk to anyone because the music is upped about 20 decibels). Don't hate me because I'm married to the vision of the bride and groom, newly married, wine or champagne in hand, casually mingling with their guests.

No matter what you choose, there's a way to make it happen. Making sure your first look, however you do it, is special and well-documented is the most important thing, other than taking Jose Villa's advice on choosing your wedding planner, naturally. Couldn't have said it better myself!

Win It: 

* Tell us your thoughts/opinions on seeing each other before the ceremony and/or what you've chosen to do and why and enter to win a $15 Starbucks gift card OR iTunes gift card, on us. "Like" us on Facebook and leave us another comment telling us you did so for an additional entry. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday May 27th at Noon MST!

~Happy Wednesday!


Tana said...

I've met Jose V and value his organic approach. I lean toward the first look though, so the couple can go right to their reception. Unless they're willing to spend a bit of time during their party escaping for some evening portraits. I read the link and agree with JV's three things that complete a wedding:loving family, great style and a good band!

Miranda Juza said...

I had to seriously be talked into seeing my groom before the wedding, but am really happy about my decision. Not only will it allow for us to be more relaxed before the ceremony, but we will have time to take a ton of photos with each other and our wedding party. We won't have to miss out on any of the incredible party we have been planning, neither will our attendants, and even our family will have their photos done before the party is started. I am so excited to be able to spend my entire reception with my new hubby anjoying the time with our guests!!!

Brandi Reiland | Soiree said...

Miranda- I so agree with the idea of being able to spend as much time as possible with your friends and family! They came to see you and your groom, and even though they always appreciate the great party you've hosted for them, I do just feel like there is an air of "something's missing" when the bride and groom aren't there for a while. Not to mention, the day goes by SO fast, I say if you can have the best of both worlds- all of your photos plus spending as much time as possible amongst your guests, the better!

Tana- I completely agree!

Greg Hoskins said...

While I can't deny the authenticity of seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle, I definitely prefer the pre-ceremony first look, from a timing standpoint. Most couples don't realize at first that not only would they have to do their creative portraits after the ceremony if they don't do a first look beforehand, but also any family formals that they want with both of them in the picture since they decided not to see each other before the ceremony. That just adds to the amount of time they are taken away from the cocktail hour and also cuts down the time they usually want to spend on the creative portraits as well.

Brandi Reiland | Soiree said...

Greg- So true as well. When you have more time, there is more time for creativity. While the bridal party is important and should be included in the couple's wedding album, I think the focus should be on the bride and groom..and to make sure the most creative photos are about that.


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