“Should we have a first look?” It’s a reoccurring question we hear from couples. Although this pre-ceremony session has risen in popularity over the past decade, people still wonder, is it worth it?
As New Jersey wedding photographers who have captured many couples before their ceremony, we can confidently say it is, because it’s a special moment with many benefits.
But there are some common misconceptions around having a first look: it ruins the surprise of the aisle walk, seeing your partner beforehand is bad luck, there won’t be as much of an emotional reaction, you can’t break tradition, etc.
While it’s true that some couples genuinely can’t see their significant other before the ceremony for cultural/religious reasons, for those who can, we encourage a first look.
In this post, we give you 5 reasons why you should have a first look. But first, for those of you who are curious how the tradition of not seeing the bride before the ceremony came to be, a little history.
Back when weddings were seen as business deals (and the marriages were typically arranged), the bride’s parents would have wanted to do everything they could to see their daughter off successfully. If that meant not letting the groom see his future wife before it was too late, so be it.
So, it became a tradition that the couple was only allowed to meet at the ceremony, and the groom would lift the veil to finally see his bride. If at that point, he didn’t like what he saw, it was too late. There was no backing out, and the two were married.
We’re glad today’s ceremonies are centered more around love and two people coming together because they want to spend the rest of their lives with one another. And although the tradition may have changed in context since those early days, it still holds meaning for some couples. There are those who find the tradition special and want to hold to it, and that’s absolutely okay with us too!
The moment you spend with each other before the ceremony is one of the only times you will have alone. The rest of the day will be a swirl of events and people wanting to talk and mingle.
The first look gives you a meaningful way to connect with your partner before the wedding begins. And before everyone is looking at the two of you. This is something people don’t realize. You’ll be on display for the rest of the day, so having a personal moment where just the two of you see each other and react however you want to without any pressure can make all the difference.
This leads to the next point.
One of the biggest reservations couples have about seeing each other before the ceremony is that it will ruin the emotion of the walk down the aisle. It’s not so much that they want to hold to tradition or fear bad luck. It’s that they fear a blank face more than anything.
In our experience, if people are going to cry, they will. They might cry during the first look and the ceremony. They might not cry at all. Or they might react in a way they never imagined.
A first look doesn’t take away from the ceremony reveal. If it does take away anything, it’s the pressure to react a certain way while a group of people watches. Instead, it’s just the two of you having a moment, taking each other in, kissing, hugging, and crying, if that’s what happens.
Also, if you’re a bride and want to change things up for the ceremony, you can wait to put your veil on until you walk down the aisle. This gives you a different look and a new reveal.
A first look allows you to ease into the day. It takes the pressure off so you can relax and enjoy your day.
After all, pre-wedding nerves are no joke, especially if you’re uncomfortable being the center of attention. But we find that couples who have first looks are usually calmer. They’ve seen each other, spent some much-needed time together, and gotten some jitters out of the way. It’s like a weight gets lifted.
Believe it or not, having a first look maximizes your time because it allows us to capture most of the portraits before the ceremony. Without it, we have to squeeze everything into a short window of time – usually cocktail hour.
We see it nearly every wedding when there’s not a first look: the ceremony’s finished, and the couple is barreling through the crowd saying, “No, I’m sorry, we have to go. No time to stop and chat right now.”
With a first look, you’ll have more time for extended family photos, should you want them. AND you’ll actually be able to enjoy the cocktail hour you spent months planning. Aside from that, you’ll go into your reception feeling relaxed, not rushed.
You don’t have to limit a first look to your partner. You can have a first look with your parent, grandparent, or whomever! There’s something fun and special about capturing photos with Mom or Dad and having those images in the gallery as well.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but if you’ve been on the fence about having a first look, we hope we’ve cleared up some of the concerns and misconceptions.
We will never push you to do anything you don’t want to do just because we think it’s a great idea. The decision is yours. But a first look is worth considering for the reasons listed above. And probably many more!
Reach out, and let us know your thoughts. Either way, we’re happy to capture your big day.
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