As women we’ve all envisioned it … the dress perfectly embracing the curves of your body, every strand of hair in its rightful place, and lest I forget, you’re donning a flawless face. Ahhh yes, the makeup is so perfect, you’ve got Barbie frantically searching for a touch-up.
And with all your fabulousness, your first step down the wedding aisle is greeted with harmonious awe-filled sighs of admiration from your guests. But even better? Your gaze meets your soon-to-be-husband eyes for the first time and you can literally see his breath being taken away — you are simply a vision to behold. And, he even sheds a tear, because yes, you are the most beautiful bride in the world!!
For the longest time, that’s how I imagined it would be on our Wedding Day. Time would stop as we saw each other for the first time at the aisle, and dozens of snapshots would be taken to capture that moment.
But this isn’t what happened.
Instead we decided to see each other for the first time — in private — about 90 minutes before the ceremony. And … It. Was. Beautiful. (Yes, sometimes things carry so much meaning, each word warrants its own sentence!)
Never in a million years would I have thought to see my husband-to-be prior to the ceremony, because like I said, I’ve always envisioned that “gazing into each others eyes with everyone in awe” moment.
But then we sat down with our photographer, Stephanie Williams, and she asked if we wanted to see each other before the ceremony for a ‘first look’ session. I think I blurted out “NO” before she even finished the sentence. In fact, I think I said it so abruptly I’m sure she thought she accidentally asked me if I wanted to take family formals in the public restroom, LOL.
But weeks later, my mind started to shift after seeing so many incredibly gorgeous “First Look” photographs and reading countless photography blogs and articles about the benefits of seeing each other beforehand.
Here are some of the advantages that our photographer pointed out in breaking the “see you at the aisle” tradition:
- This is a private and special moment shared between just the two of you.
Weddings can often be chaotic, filled with guests who want to greet you, endless “come on, let’s take a picture together” moments, and a timeline that seems to fly faster than you can say “I Do.” Most of the time, a couple never has a moment alone, and the “First Look” often ends up being the only time you and your sweetheart will share something that is completely private, making it the most precious sliver of time during the entire Wedding Day.
- There’s more time for romantic photos of the couple!
A time blocked out for the “First Look” session allows us super giddy photographers to be more creative with location, poses, etc. By doing a First Look we can set up the perfect location for you to meet and situate ourselves to capture the moment your eyes connect. And yes, be prepared for tears! Sometimes this moment can be so powerful it will draw out all sorts of emotions … awe, utter joy, excitement, and an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude … for each other, for love, for this special day 😉 After the First Look we can then set aside about 30 to 45 minutes to do romantic photos where we’re not racing with time or light, but simply focusing on capturing beautiful images in the most incredible settings!
- Family members as well as the Bride and Groom can enjoy the cocktail hour together.
A “First Look” session also allows for some of the family and bridal party formals to be taken before the ceremony, creating more time for everyone to party together! Because we are able to knock out some of the romantics and group photos beforehand, we’ll have less to do after the ceremony which gives you more time to celebrate with your guests. *WOOT WOOT* 😀
- There is no sense of rushing while doing pictures after the ceremony.
With some or most of the family/bridal party formals out of the way, there’s more time to focus on taking pictures of the happy couple and truly capitalize on the golden hour before sunset — when the light is deliciously fabulous and super flattering, giving that special glow to each image!
- Make-up and hair look “fresher” in images shot before the ceremony, especially during summer weddings when you’re dealing with heat.
Brides you will be beautiful throughout the day, but there’s no better time to catch your look at its freshest than right after you’ve gotten primped and pampered. Doing a “First Look” allows us to capture you at your best 😉 And if you shed a few tears when you see each other, no worries, you can always get some touch ups before the ceremony!
- It helps the nervousness and anticipation of the day subside.
Seeing your soon-to-be-spouse helps put aside some of those wedding jitters before the ceremony. Who better than to calm your nerves than your sweetheart?
And now, let me add my own two cents to the list …
- “First looks” create some of the most amazing wedding pictures I’ve ever seen!!!
And I’m not just talking just regular amazing, I mean goosebumps all over your body amazing! The private moment you get to share with the one you love is like the first flower he bought you that is now dried and pressed between the pages of a thick book — it makes your heart flutter every time you see it and brings a smile to your face that no one will ever truly understand.
I have no regrets at all seeing Tommy before the ceremony, in fact, I would not have done it any other way. Seeing each other for the first time alone was more special than I could have ever imagined because it was a moment all our own that we shared with no one else, just us (and our amazing photographers with our daughter peeking nearby!!)
Whenever it is you decide to see other, just make sure it fits with your timeline and make that moment your own. Soak in his gaze and let your heart flutter, because it is a fragment of time that you’ll only experience once. So make it special!
PS … And yes, when he laid his eyes on me for the first time during our first look, I saw that adorable twinkle in his eye. And when he held my hand, looked me up and down “and sop me up like a buttery biscuit” (these are Tommy’s words exactly, LOL) and smiled like I’ve never seen, I realized in that moment … his reaction was the only one that really mattered to me 😉
Brides + Grooms, I am a huge proponent of the “First Look” because I know how much it meant to me, and how much it still means to me every time I look at our photos. But the bottom line is, do what makes you happy and do what you’re comfortable with. If you choose to do a first look with us, we will welcome it with open arms (and a baker’s dozen of cupcakes hehehehe). Tommy and I will find a special and beautiful spot that is a place where just the two of you can share “the moment.” And I promise you, it wont take away from the ceremony. In fact it will then give you another moment to dazzle him/her 😀 But if you don’t choose to do a First Look that’s totally OK too! We’ll make sure to shoot the heck outta that moment when you first walk down the aisle. I promise that whatever you choose, we’ll make it work and either way . . . It. Will. Be. Fabulous!!!
All photos posted are by our incredible Wedding photographers ~ Stephanie + Isaac of Stephanie Williams Photography aka This Modern Romance. Aren’t they ridiculously talented? We were blessed indeed!!!