First let me begin by saying this….there is no one right way to get married. There are no real rules. If you don’t do what everyone else is doing guess what? At the end of the day you are still married, which is the entire point. So do what feels right. If you feel you have to have a first look because that’s what people do, then don’t. You should have a first look because that’s what you WANT to do.
In case some of you reading this don't know what a first look is, let me explain. A first look is when the couple sees each other for the first time (on their wedding day) before the ceremony. First looks are typically private, a special moment for the couple, to see each other all dressed up before they say “I do”.
Some couples want this private intimate moment. They want the first time seeing each other all dressed to be just between them, and not in front of everyone else. Other couples want it to be a surprise and not see each other until the ceremony. Either way is completely fine and absolutely beautiful. I have shot weddings both ways (I didn't do a first look at my wedding so no worries if you are team no first look : ) )
Now some photographers encourage first looks. Having a first look helps allow more time for pictures of the couple. I personally don’t push couples to have first looks. To me it’s important that the couple have the experience that fits their dynamic best. Whether that’s having a first look or not.
There are many ways to have a first look. Some couples keep it to the point. One is turned around. The other enters the room/area and taps them or tells them to turn around. Then surprise! They have a moment together. Then the photographer will take a few quick pictures before moving on with the day.
Another option would be to say each other’s vows. An elopement in Dubois, WY I shot, the couple did just that. They wanted to say the traditional vows given by the officiant, to be said at the ceremony. For their first look, they decided to say personal vows for each other. I personally loved this idea. It gave the couple the space to feel more free. To truly speak how they feel without the pressure of dozens of eyes watching them. The moment was intimate and beautiful. A quick note for those who do not wish to have a first look. If you love the idea of saying personal vows in private, this can still be done without having a first look. One way to to do this, would be to say the traditional vows during the ceremony. Later in the day when you have golden hour pictures (because golden hour is the best for pictures) you can have that private moment to share your personal vows.
A wedding I shot at Rustic Oaks, had a similar approach. The couple said the traditional vows at the ceremony. For their first look, they read letters they had written to each other, under a large beautiful tree. They stood back to back, each holding the other’s hand and took turns reading their letters to each other. The sincere emotions that came out in this moment were unforgettable.
Another couple decided to do something a little different with their first look. A beautiful backyard wedding in Minnesota, the couple really wanted it to be a surprise when they say each other for the first time. So they decided to save that for the ceremony. Instead, the groom kept his eyes closed. They met at a tree, stood back to back, holding hands and prayed together. Faith is very important to this couple. It was beautiful to see how they incorporated this into their day.
Some couples like to carry on the idea of a first look with others. Many brides like doing a first look with their dad. Some brides like doing a first look with their bridesmaids. Some grooms enjoy doing a first look with their mothers. If a couple has children, I have seen beautiful moments of the parents having special first looks with their kids.
The main thing to take away is that everyone does it differently, but each way is incredibly beautiful. Sit down with your partner and discuss what’s important to you. My advice is to create an experience that’s going to reflect who you both are as a couple. To create a space where you are most comfortable. This is where the true moments are found.
If you are wanting a first look or many first looks, communicate this with your photographer, so they can help make it a memorable experience!