What is a “First Look” and why would I want to do one? | Florida Destination Wedding Photography

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We’ve heard it called “first glance,” “first sight,” “first touch,” -and we personally call it a “first look…” and we think first looks are awesome!  But what is it??  Simply put – it is the bride and groom seeing one another prior to the wedding ceremony.

We know that some couples are turned off by them because they are “un-traditional” and they immediately write it off.  I’ve been a bride myself, so trust me I know all your feelings – so I’ll help you understand “first looks” as both having been a bride and now being a photographer.

our-wedding-7759Let me tell you our story – we DIDN’T do one…

I can talk about those brides because I WAS one of those brides. I wanted a REACTION- I had to have tradition….I wanted Cody to be so surprised and overcome with joy when I walked down the aisle, and I wanted our photographer to capture his immense joy forever in photos!   Isn’t that what every bride wants? THE reaction? I wanted to be traditional though and yes the photographer caught Cody’s reaction, but we never had a private moment to just soak each other in.  In addition, we were SUPER rushed for time because we were married in the winter, so we were fighting against daylight(the sun waits for no one) and we were trying to smash in all our family formals and groups portraits before we even had time for “us.”  We hurriedly took those photos – all of the group photos were taken in a less than stellar looking location due to time (which to this day I regret).  Since we weren’t super stoked about the interior of the church being where we had our “couples” formals – we quickly drove downtown to grab a few pics of just the two of us.  We had maybe 10-15 minutes, and then we once again rushed off to the reception to be announced, straight to our first dance and then dinner was served.  Then because we’d missed cocktail hour we felt like we needed to walk around to all the tables and say hello to everyone  -and boom – next was cake cutting, parent dances, some open dancing and then it was over.  A total blur – tons of planning, and then rushing and it was over.  We didn’t have one minute to us – alone – to revel is one another and all that we’d planned for months in anticipation and for that – I regret not having a first look.

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Why do a first look then?

Since I didn’t do a first look – I think brides want to keep tradition because they think their groom won’t be as emotional when she walks down the aisle if he’s already seen her. Then she doesn’t get that magical reaction picture she’s dreamed of! We’ve actually found that to be just the opposite. Wedding days tend to be pretty busy leading up to the ceremony, you have to be here by a certain time, make sure so&so has this or that taken care of and sometimes there isn’t just a moment to sit/breathe/soak it all in.  So what started as excitement for the day can sometimes mount to nerves as you get ready to walk down the aisle.  When the groom walks out with the rest of the guys – he stands at the front only to find 150 or more people staring right at his face!   Then as the doors open to reveal the bride, everyone’s eyes are on her.  You end up sharing that magical moment with everyone.  Doing a first look allows for that moment to be between just you two – no one else and then with the pressure off, photos already out of the way – you’ve already had time with each other -you have time to enjoy your beautiful day that you’ve spent A LOT of money and time planning!  And your nerves are gone too.  Out of all the couples we’ve ever done a “first look” with we have never once had someone regret doing it, we’ve only had some who didn’t – wish they had.  Like us.

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our-wedding-9001How would my “first look” look like??**

You’re away from guests, details, and things that might distract you from the sweetness of the moment. You’re away in a beautifully picked out private place.  Most likely your groom has his back to the location in which you will come in and meet him.  You walk in and tap him on the shoulder and he turns around to finally get his first look at you and not only does he get to see you… he can hold you… cry with you…. kiss you… and ENJOY that moment with you for as LONG as you both want. You can twirl around to show off your dress to him and enjoy his response.  All the while we are there to capture EACH of your reactions using long lenses as to not be intrusive or interrupt your special time.  We stay back at a distance but close enough to capture the moments, but we are still far enough away for it to be private.  When you’re ready to begin taking pictures then YOU will let us know when you’ve had enough time to calm your nerves and enjoy your moment. That moment is yours and yours alone. You can read one another private vows if you want, exchange a gift, a card, pray – anything at all – or nothing but simply seeing one another.

Now you aren’t in a time crunch, you’re free to move into your couple portraits.  No one is around, parents and well meaning guests aren’t watching your every move as the camera clicks and you can breathe and be natural.  It’s just the two of you and us….. capturing the excitement and the joy of your wedding day. From our experience at our own wedding without a first look you never get that time alone on your wedding day until you’re in your getaway car.

FROM REAL BRIDE CAMILLA: “I had my reservations about doing a first look. I had always dreamed of my husband seeing me for the first time while walking down the aisle. I was afraid that doing a first look would take away from that special moment. However, I am extremely glad we chose to do the first look! I did not realize how nervous I was during the day, but once I was able to talk and pray with Andrew, I felt so much more at ease. The wedding day carries a plethora of emotions, but there is something special about spending a few moments of stillness with your best friend. Logistically speaking, I really liked being able to take pictures with Andrew, our families and bridal parties before the ceremony. This allowed us to enjoy our cocktail hour and our guests!”

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**If you decide to do a first look –we’d also encourage you to plan for family pictures and bridal party pictures beforehand. If you do them in advance you can go to cocktail hour – I mean do you really want to miss the cocktail hour? Probably not. With photos out of the way, it frees you all up to mingle, catch up with other guests, and just enjoy the day. Some couples spend cocktail hour with their guests because time is so limited during the reception, but some still do family formals during the first 15 or so minutes of cocktail hour too.   

And even though you’ve seen each other in advance  – as you walk down the aisle to your groom finally – he is smiling ear to ear and we STILL capture that too!  With both your nerves gone -you get to really be IN the moment.

FROM REAL GROOM ANDREW: “I completely understand a groom’s desire to not want to do a first look – I was one of those grooms. I was concerned the first look would diminish the “specialness” of the moment when I first saw Camilla walk down the aisle. However, I am really glad we chose to do the first look. It gave me a chance to talk to Camilla, ask how she was doing, reassure her, and have a quiet moment amidst a crazy day.I must say, I will never forget the moment when I first saw her walking down the aisle.”

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Couples who opt for a First Look experience these benefits:

*Couples who do a first look get about 50% more photos of them as a couple than those that don’t. Purely based on time constraints. This is a great return on your investment :)
*You have more time to relax on your wedding day. This definitely includes experiencing your cocktail hour too!
*You can have a later ceremony (especially helpful in the winter months) because you’re not fighting the sunset light for photos
*You actually get alone time on your wedding day together. Usually when you walk down the aisle, he can’t speak to tell you how amazing you look… he can’t touch you or embrace you or kiss you (yet). You have to wait until the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look.
*You get rid of your nerves! Your portraits are more fun and relaxed and you’re not so nervous for the ceremony.

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FROM REAL COUPLE STEPHANIE & ADAM (pictured above): “As a couple we were very torn on whether to have a first look or not – we were given a lot of mixed opinions from other couples and were initially leaning towards approaching things very traditionally and waiting to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle. Part of me (selfishly) liked the idea of seeing my soon-to-be husband standing at the end of the aisle overtaken with emotion (dare I say tearing up) when he saw me walking down the aisle…what girl doesn’t:) BUT we agreed that what was really important to us was to find a way to maximize our time together and our guests and enjoy every second of the night. Our friends were not lying when they said your wedding day fly’s by in a spectacular flash of excitement and emotion – and we knew we wanted to savor every moment of it! So after plotting out the day of timeline, we knew in order to spend time with our family and friends it made more sense to get as many photos done before the ceremony as possible. So we decided a first look would be the best thing…. Now looking back, I think we made the BEST decision. In addition to saving time, the BIGGEST reason I would suggest having a first look is that it’s the one time you and your husband will have a moment together, alone. It’s even more emotional than I anticipated, a private, intimate connection that was full of love and excitement. It was the moment when it felt like just the two of us – it also led to some pretty fantastic, REAL, moments that Cody captured. Also having our first look made walking down the aisle a little less nerve-wracking, but still very special and emotional. The first look also gave us the opportunity to enjoy our cocktail hour with our family and friends because we were able to accomplish a lot of other important photos before the ceremony. Again, I think the special thing I took away from the first look was sharing a brief moment just the two of us together, soaking in the moment as a couple and all of the anticipation and excitement that led up to the big day.”

WHAT DO I DO??  To first look or not to first look:

Honestly, we prefer when a bride and groom does a first look because we know the benefits and we know our own experience, but this day is about YOU and it really doesn’t matter to us either way.  This is totally up to you two. We only share this information because we know you’ve probably never really been educated on what the heck a first look is anyways!! It’s totally ok if you choose not to share a first look!  We just want you to understand your options.  There are no rules to wedding days –only your rules – so do whatever makes you both happy!  This is YOUR day – and we cannot wait to capture it!

XO-
Cody & Tiff

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