What is a first look?!
Good gracious old bean, what on earth is a first look?
I have no idea where this modern tradition came from.
“Aren’t you going to research it?”
No i’m not.
Shush you. The relevant information is coming.
First looks are typically followed by a quick few pictures of you both together, for another interesting read, check out why you may hate having your picture taken.
A ‘first look’ as it has been coined is an opportunity to see each other before the wedding ceremony. Typically it takes place when the bride has just arrived at the ceremony venue and the groom is waiting. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it typically rolls that way.
With that being said I am currently helping a wedding client put together a timeline that involves a first look couple shoot. They both get ready in the same flat, they see each other all dressed up, hug it out (most likely), then we head to the park to take some portraits of them together before the ceremony, then walk to the venue to get married!
Doesn’t it break from tradition?
Yes it does, in oldy worldy England seeing your other half before the ceremony was considered bad luck. Some choose not to wear veils, some get married in black, some get married on the beach. Thankfully these traditions are constantly being challenged and your wedding can take whatever shape you like. Word of warning, don’t be surprised if your parents are confused by the desire to break from tradition. Hopefully yours are supportive, mine got really weird when I told them I would be double barrelling my surname and taking on Jen’s…
What are the benefits of doing this?
I am married, and I also don’t like being the centre of attention (for extended periods of time anyway), so I can inform you from the perspective of someone who has professional and personal experience of both scenarios.
Weddings can be scary. The feelings of excitement can mimic those of fear. Increased heart rate, sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, nervousness and excitement are almost interchangeable. When you’re about to get married however, it’s difficult to tell which on it is. It can be an incredibly overwhelming experience, so much so that the adrenaline dump that can occur during those moments can actually negatively affect your ability to create new memories (this bit I did research), which means you may not be able to recall the moment your partner walks down the aisle because the emotional experience is so intense.
This is where the first look can be a winner
You know you and your partner knows you better than anyone. This is an opportunity for you both to relieve any anxiety pre-ceremony and make sure that the nerves turn into excitement. It’s then quite common to walk down the aisle together too, confronting your challenges together, being there and supporting each other, that’s a pretty cool way to enter into a marriage.
Again, walking down the aisle separately is still no issue and it often means everyone is more relaxed, walks slower, takes it in and is able to be present in the moment and savour it.
Did you do a first look?
No I didn’t, it felt like the right decision for me at the time. Post wedding it’s impossible to draw any rational conclusions about what could have been different, the whole day felt perfect so the notion of changing anything seems absurd. Like most of my blog posts the message remains the same. Acknowledge who you are and go with what you think will make you feel most comfortable. It doesn’t matter if it’s in vogue or if it’s completely left field, if you think it’s cool, then by definition it is.
Are there any other benefits?
One big benefit is it means you get to share a moment together. During the day you will get whisked away from time to time, engrossed in conversation or lost in a particularly tasty canape. The day picks you up and takes you with it. Whilst the morning can feel like a rush to get to the ceremony on time, a first look allows you to slow down and spend a good five minutes embracing and contemplating the big leap you’re about to take together. The moment can be incredibly intimate but it also means you get to spend more time together.
N.B if you’re having a late ceremony or winter wedding, first looks can save the day. It means you can still have a candle lit ceremony but it also means you can schedule pictures of you both together for earlier in the day when there’s still daylight, noice!
Thanks Liam, what about disadvantages?
I mentioned that the tradition is broken, but that might be your vibe, breaking with tradition is sometimes the intention of the couple so may not be an issue.
The biggest problem? YOU HAVE TO GET UP EARLIER!
Oh my god it’s a tragedy, can you imagine, getting up earlier than, like, 8am? Why o why!?
Ok, enough with the hyperbole, I get up at 6.30 don’t you know.
In all seriousness you will have to ready earlier as we will have to schedule enough time, aim to be at the venue half an hour before you’re due to start, that should be enough.
Ok, so we think we might like to do a first look, how do we set it up?
The best bet is for us to visit the venue together and work out where the sun will be and what will look the best. If we’re going to set it up, may as well go all in. I’ll advise on where I think will be the best location to give you privacy as well as a wonderful backdrop.
What else to consider?
Do you want your bridal party nearby? If they can see you both they will coo from a distance, could be funny, could be distracting if you think you’ll cry.
If the bridal party are there with you, would you want to take some formal pictures around the same time? Saves doing them after the ceremony!
We could also go straight into some portraits of you both together, but, my honest advice, if you’re having a first look, it’s probably because it’s going to be emotional. I’d let it run it’s course and not overthink it. If the moment feels right to take some formal pictures, cool, let’s do it. If you need time to compose yourself and wipe away tears, that’s cool too. Some parts of the wedding day need military style planning, this isn’t one of them. Let the emotions come on their own, the pictures will be amazing however it pans out.