Should You Do A First Look?
You’ve all seen the emotional and romantic images of a bride and groom having the first look on their wedding day. The groom is speechless when he sees his beautiful bride for the first time. The bride is overwhelmed by how handsome her man looks in his wedding attire. They join together and amaze at the moment, then excitedly discuss the wedding day that is finally here.
You are probably wondering, should I do a first look?
As a Nashville wedding videographer, I am a massive fan of the first look. Seeing each other in a private space creates an intimate time to be together and share in the excitement of the ceremony about to happen. It also releases some of the pent-up stress you both might be feeling – which is normal and natural.
It is always pure joy to document a first look. These are your final moments as an engaged couple. Next time you hug and kiss, you will be married!
Living In The Moment
The moment the couple see each other is very special. The emotion is raw, real, and authentic. It often comes with smiles, laughter, and even tears.
It also adds a layer to your wedding film and enriches the story of the big day. On video, I document the groom waiting for his bride, the beautiful bride approaching, and then the first look itself. Then we’ll also get some time after the first look to take some footage of just the two of you together. The first look is always deep, meaningful, and is almost a story within the story.
The first look usually happens in a place that we don’t have time to go back to after the ceremony. Often I arrive at a venue and am so excited about all the shooting opportunities. But there is never time to take advantage of every gorgeous spot, especially if you have a sunset wedding.
If we can use a pretty garden area for the first look or feature stunning architecture, that’s a bonus. We try to find a private location without people passing by and place you in excellent light so that your footage + photos are as gorgeous as possible.
On your wedding day, you don’t get to spend much time together alone. Think about it – you are either apart getting ready or surrounded by loved ones. This is fantastic, but to steal a few precious moments, just the two of you is also lovely. Your first look is one of the few times of the day you can do this. (Of course, the photographer and I am are close by, but we let the moment unfold naturally so that you can pretend we’re not there).
Family and Bridal Party Portraits and Video
After your first look, it’s a great idea to get some bridal party and/or family portraits done. That way, you have more time after the ceremony for some couple’s portraits. Also, if you are having a sunset wedding, the light is most beautiful at this time. We always aim to start the couple’s session about 30-45 minutes before sunset, also known as the “Golden Hour.”
Those newlywed images are the ones you will treasure most, frame and are a highlight of your video too.
Releasing the Stress
Stress on your wedding day is normal. Even if everything is going perfectly, you will experience what we call natural stress. It is like excitement that has reached a high level and is just needing a glass of champagne or hug from your soon-to-be-husband to level out again. A first look is definitely a stress release and confidence booster. You can have time to talk and share while I take some beautiful video footage, and your photographer gets some amazing photos. After we finish, you both will separate until the start of the ceremony.
There are some possible downsides to having a first look.
The Time Factor
Doing a first look obviously takes up some time. You need to be ready on time and factor in enough time for the first look so that you can be relaxed and not feel rushed. If we are hurrying to squeeze in the first look, you won’t enjoy it as it was designed to be. I recommend you aim to be ready at least 10-15 minutes before I collect you for the first look. That means being dressed with your jewelry, veil, and shoes on.
It doesn’t always work out if the groom is getting ready at a different venue from the bride. Or perhaps the guests are onsite and might see you. If you are not flexible on running the risk of a guest seeing you in your wedding attire before the ceremony, a first look might not be for you. While we try to make sure you are not seen, we can never guarantee it.
Many couples worry about missing the tradition of seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle.
Explain to your parents about the first look. Some very traditional family members might dislike the idea of a first look. But they usually understand what it is and the meaning behind it after you talk about it. Most likely, they will be on board and even love the idea!
Talking to newlyweds who choose to do a first look, they almost all say the same thing. Walking down the aisle was still special and just as meaningful as they expected even after doing a first look. Plus, they were glad they had taken the time to incorporate an intimate first look into the wedding day. There’s no need to worry about taking away from the ceremony entrance if you do a first look. The excitement, feeling, and impact are still there!
Some Extra Tips
To help the day go smoothly, the first look should be considered a significant event of the day when planning out your wedding day schedule. Here are some helpful hints to ensure the first look goes to plan, and don’t forget that I will be there to guide you through the whole process. I will scout the location, collect you from your rooms, and give you a heads up about 20 minutes before it’s time to go (by phone or in your room if we are already together).
- Keep your hair and make-up artist in the room for touch-ups after the first look (in case tears are shed). You can expect to pay more for this service, but it is worth it.
- Don’t let friends or family tag along to see the first look as it will take away from the intimacy of the moment.
- Don’t bring your bouquet. You don’t want to worry about what to do with it in the moment when all you want to do is hug your soon-to-be-husband or grab him by the jacket and check out his dapper suit.
To summarize, there are far more benefits to doing a first look than not doing one. Still, the trend is not for every couple. At the end of the day, you need to have the knowledge and also go with your heart on if it feels right for your day, timeline, and your relationship.
Pros & Cons
There are so many advantages to adding a first look into your wedding day schedule, including the following.
- Beautiful video footage + photos that add to your love story
- Shooting in an area that we won’t return to later
- Private time together
- Family and bridal party photos + video can be finished before the ceremony, leaving more time for sunset photos of you and your husband
- Release of built-up stress before you walk down the aisle
There are some reasons you might not want to do a first look.
- Takes some planning in advance and takes up time on the day
- Logistically may be challenging
- Goes against tradition
- Needs to be explained to family members
So should we do a first look? In the end, as a couple, you will know if a first look is right for you. It is a beautiful way to see each other for the first time, and it can add a personal and visual element that enhances the day. But it isn’t for everyone. For religious, cultural, or traditional reasons or even logistics, it might not be ideal.
But I do love a first look and am always happy to help execute it in an effortless and stress-free way. Feel free to chat with me any time if you have questions about doing a first look, and I’ll be happy to comment more.