Maybe you have already decided that you want that magical moment when your eyes meet while you’re walking down the aisle. You’ve waited your whole life for this moment and NO ONE is going to convince you to do a first look. We hear you. Or maybe you love the idea of a first look, and you need help getting your spouse-to-be, or well-meaning family on board. We hear you too. We’re going to share with you everything we know about the first look debate, and share with you why we personally love a first look, so that you can make the absolute best decision for your big day.
TEAM: YES PLEASE!
We totally understand that this is tricky. And some of us at MDP are glad that we don’t have to make this decision again! But we want to share with you some of the reasons why we love a first look for our couples, and why we think you might love it for your wedding day.
Private and Intimate
Let’s be honest. You know, just like we know, that your wedding day can go off without a hitch, and it’s still going to be a little bit wild. You’re going to be surrounded by a million people throughout the day, the day is for sure going to fly by, and all you're going to want is to have a minute or two where everything slows down, and you get to take it all in. A first look gives you that pause, because this moment is just for you. It is exclusive, private, and intimate, and slow. There is no rushing through it, because it is all about the pause. It is the moment when you two get to take in the day together, after the busyness of getting ready, and before the adventure that is the rest of the evening. It is the calm before the storm, so to speak, and we know that there is no one else that you would rather spend that moment with.
Grounding Moment & Safe Place
On a day that could possibly feel a little chaotic, where your nerves might be feeling frayed and you might be feeling that little bit of tightness in your chest, this is a moment to be alone with your favorite person in the entire world, and just breathe. Your spouse-to-be is your safe place and your home. When you hug them, all of the stress melts away, and you feel like you can take on the world. We want this moment for you on your wedding day. This grounding moment is so beautiful and so helpful to steady an anxious heart before the ceremony. It allows you to come back to center and remember what all of this is for in the first place. Because at the end of the day, when everything else fades away, it’s just the two of you. So we want you to just focus on that for a few minutes, and be present in that reality together as you steady each other.
Now you know we’re obviously going to mention logistics, because - planner perspective. It is just a fact that when you have a first look, all of your couple portraits and group photos can be taken before the ceremony. This means that when cocktail hour comes, you get to greet your guests, and you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out on time with the people you love because you have to take photos. And of course we don’t want your photos to feel rushed because they are going to be the things that you look back on for years to come to remember this amazing day.
When it comes to photos during cocktail hour, you have ONE hour total to do most, if not all, of your photos depending on how long you hired your photographer and videographer for. That being said, your planner will coordinate your timeline so you can still take your individual family and wedding party photos prior to the ceremony if you choose not to do a first look. However, you will have only one hour to do all wedding party, immediate and extended family, as well as all portrait photos. It can be TIGHT and you don’t want to feel stressed on your wedding day! So a first look really makes it possible to have the best of both worlds: gorgeous, unrushed photos, and time with your amazing friends and family on the biggest day of your life.
All that to say, at the end of the day, OWN your decision! Whatever you and your fiancé decide, own it. Be on the same page, clear your conscience of anyone’s guilt, and run with it. And then tell your planner and your photographer so that they know what to expect! They will build your timeline accordingly, and will help make sure that everything comes together, no matter what you decide! ALSO…this reaction photo below is from a First Look! You will still get that reaction whether privately or publicly at the altar!
TEAM: NO THANK YOU!
We hate saying “pros and cons” because honestly it's so personal and there is no right or wrong way to approach this subject. The only “wrong way” to approach this special moment is if you’re doing something that makes you feel unhappy or guilty. This is an extremely personal and intimate moment, and there should be no baggage associated with it! All of that being said, let’s chat about some of the reasons why you might not want to do a first look.
The Magical Aisle Moment
Go back 10-15 years ago, and no one was even considering a first look. Most people hadn’t even HEARD of a first look. Not only was it “bad luck” to see the bride on the wedding day, but you certainly were not planning to see her ON PURPOSE. That would be madness. And why? Because everything was leading up the moment when the doors opened, she began the walk down the aisle, and the couple's eyes met for the first time. That was THE moment. It was the moment the couple had been waiting for, the moment the family had been waiting for, and the moment when all of the reality sets in that this is really happening. All of your dreams are coming true. What we’re actually saying is that we hear you, and we totally catch your vision for this moment, BUT this moment still happens! Just because you have already seen what each other looks like and had some of the day together, doesn’t take away from the first time you walk down the aisle and see each other. That moment is seriously a moment in itself whether or not you have already seen one another.
My Parent/Family Wants to Be There
This one hits home for a member of the MDP Events team, who went back and forth with a parent over “the moment” and who “the moment” was for. We won’t tell you what she ended up doing, but we will tell you that she went into her decision with a clear conscience and that is the most important thing! It can be really challenging for parents and their grown children to take a step back and evaluate who the wedding is for, and about, what moments like the first look/ceremony entrance mean to each person, and if the roles were reversed, how would they feel in each other’s shoes. At the end of the day, if a parent wants to see that eye-locking ceremony entrance moment, it is only because they love you and want to celebrate that special moment with you, because it is a milestone moment for you, and also for them. We’re not saying do it one way or the other because of anyone else’s wants, just sharing another viewpoint that may be hard to see when you’re in the middle choosing between your own wants, and making a parent happy. Like we said, been there, done that! Also, like we said above…that aisle moment is STILL magical and will be a special moment for you and your parents whether or not you do a first look.
TEAM: I DON'T WANT A FIRST LOOK, BUT MY CEREMONY IS DURING SUNSET
Now…this one is the most important for us to note not only from a planner’s perspective, but also to speak on behalf of all photographers and videographers. If your ceremony takes place close to sunset and you want those outdoor pictures, you will not be able to capture the full group family or wedding party photos as well as your portraits with natural light. This is one of those times where we have a discussion with our couples asking what is important to them.
Would you rather have the first look and do all your pictures prior to your ceremony the way you want them to look? These are also photos you will have for the rest of your life and all you will be looking back on to see your wedding day…don’t forget! OR are you willing to skip the first look and do all of the pictures either inside the venue (if you have an inside) or typically with flash because it will be dark.
Your photographer and videographer will always try to sway you in this instance, to do the first look. Mostly because they don’t want you to be stressed, but also, because without it they really can’t get all of the photos you will want in that one hour with all flash photography in a dark ballroom or tent. In the countless amount of weddings we have done, we have heard SO many couples say day of: “WOW. I am so happy we did the first look, I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t!” The first look can be controversial, however as we’ve mentioned multiple times in this post, it gives you the extra time to enjoy cocktail hour with family and friends, take your time with capturing your stunning photos, helps ease the stress and already fast paced day, and of course that magical aisle moment is STILL a magical aisle moment whether or not you have seen each other.