Considering the first look

July 8, 2011
filed in Weddings
hen I meet with prospective brides and grooms, one topic we always talk about is the first look. Having been a bride once, I understand completely. I myself was a bride not too long ago and after having my OWN first look with my husband Stephen, I now can firmly say it's one of the best decisions you can make on your wedding day. There are SO many reasons to make the decision to opt for a first look.  
Here are my reasons why I suggest a first look :  
*Your day begins earlier with each other. Instead of your wedding day beginning at the ceremony, it begins a few hours earlier with each other! Why not make the best day of your lives last longer?!  
*You have MORE time for photographs. As a photographer, my job is to tell you what will produce the best images. Having a first look plays a huge role in how your wedding schedule will play out. We find that having a first look allows for more photographs of the bride and groom, added time for family photos, and more time for creative bridal party photos.  
*You get a private moment with each other with no-one else around and you will have it on film forever. This doesn't happen after the ceremony is over.  
*Last but not least... you get MORE photographs. As the photographer, I have to be honest about what it takes to get the best images. Having a first look, allows us to get the absolute best photographs because we simply have more time with you. The more time with you, the more photos you'll have. We also have more time to take more creative images around your wedding venue.  
* You will enjoy a more relaxed schedule which will help you better enjoy your wedding day and worry less about rushing to take photos. 
Often we find that once the ceremony is over, we have about an hour to document the bride and groom, bridal party and all family. It's extremely difficult to take all those photos within an hour and use the property like we would have in a first look. Why feel rushed? 
Below are some questions that Shaun & Victoria answered about their decision to opt for a first look. 
What was your favorite thing about having a first look? 
Shaun: Getting a chance to see Victoria before the ceremony. There is so much anticipation that leads up to the big day. It was nice to have a chance to spend some time together in a low pressure environment and share our excitement before the ceremony. 
Victoria: The best part about having a first look is having that intimate time together. It sounds kind of crazy, but on a day that's just about the two of you, you hardly get any time to yourselves. Until you drive away you're in this constant whirlwind of events surrounded by all your family and friends, and it's all so exhilarating you don't even WANT to slow down. But having those few minutes alone to just drink in the meaning of what that day means for the two of you is absolutely priceless.
Were you glad you opted to have a first look? If so, why? 
Shaun: Very! Not only did it give us an opportunity to share our excitement, but we also got some amazing pictures that we would not have had the chance to get otherwise. I don't think you could really understand ahead of time how fast the day goes. If you only leave an hour between the ceremony and reception to sign your wedding license, take family pictures, and get the rest of the photos you want, it is going to be a big rush. 
How did you feel when you saw Shaun for the first time? Would it have changed the way you felt during waiting to see him at the ceremony? 
Victoria: When I turned around to see him standing there, with the most elated and affectionate look on his face, I felt completely at home and relaxed. That whole morning and afternoon, there were probably about 85 things flying around my head at any given moment, but when I saw Shaun, it was like a button was pressed and everything else just melted away. I was so incredibly happy to see him, and it was such a blessing to be able to hug him and kiss him and tell him how much I loved him right then and there. I think that it actually helped me be more me before and during the ceremony. Meeting him at the altar, there wasn't anything I wished I could have said or done, because we had already had our special greeting beforehand. No butterflies, no jitters, just pure bliss.
Is there anything you suggest for future bride and grooms when considering this? 
Shaun: Do it! You won't regret it. When you see your future spouse looking their wedding day best, you will want to be able to tell her how beautiful she is and how excited you are to spend the rest of your life with them. The first look is a great time to do that. 
What made your first look so special? 
Victoria : Trick question. The experience itself was what was special! It's so romantic. All the excitement and anticipation that was built up over a year of planning our wedding came down to that split second when we first saw each other. And in that "Holy cow, we're actually here!" moment, I was able to just fall into Shaun's arms. I can't express how wonderful it was to interact with each other at that instant. Telling inside jokes and gushing over how great we both "cleaned up," it was such a grounding and heart-warming encounter. It was the clearest I've ever seen him. And all the little things, his smile, his laugh, his warmth, and how utterly complete he makes me feel, were so magnified. It was an effortless reminder of all the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place. 
Why was this important to you? 
Shaun: We wanted to keep our day as stress free as we could and doing a first look really made that possible.  
Would you suggest this to other bride and grooms? 
Victoria : Oh my goodness yes! Having a first look was probably one of the best decisions we made for our wedding. Not only is it this wonderfully, romantic opportunity for just the two of you to enjoy a private moment alone before you actually become man and wife, but it makes the rest of the day's timeline SO much easier to manage. You can actually take un-rushed pictures with each other and with your family, and still have time for those heart-felt, teary eyed congratulations. And that convenience really makes all the festivities so much more enjoyable.
I absolutely LOVE first looks. Not only do we get more images in different places for our couples, but I notice so much stress lifted off our couples shoulders once they see each other.  
I had to include this image of Shaun and Victoria after they had their first look and we began their portrait session. They look absolutely happy, content and relaxed. This is exactly how we want our bride's and grooms to feel on their wedding day. NO stress!
Sarah & Flo's wedding was one of my absolute favorite first looks. I asked Sarah to write about her experience during the first look and this is what she had to say :  
Are you glad you decided to see each other before the wedding? 
Sarah : Purely and simply, YES. I was advised multiple times by multiple brides to go for the first look and I was somewhat defiant and skeptical. In the back of my mind I had always envisioned walking down the aisle towards my husband whilst he oo-ed, aah-ed and admired me as his quintessential bride—made-up and all. I had no intention to give that vision up. However, after seeing other brides’ and grooms’ first looks, my vision changed. I wanted those photos. I wanted that moment. I, too, wanted to see a priceless expression on my fiancé’s face. And so, I did it. And after experiencing the first look, I realized its importance to the wedding day. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I had made that day—apart from marrying my husband 
This is my view of Sarah approaching Flo from behind.
Stephen and I are never intrusive. We want you to have your moment but still be able to document it from afar. This is Stephen's view of Sarah.
Stephen's view of Sarah's expression when seeing Flo.
My view of Flo seeing Sarah for the first time.  
What was your favorite part about seeing each other before the wedding and were there any drawbacks? 
Sarah : Hmmm, so many… One of them being the incredible opportunity to allow Stephanie and Stephen to capture great shots. This was huge. Looking back on our photos from the first look I always find myself tearing up. It was raw. It was real. It was us. It is something that cannot be captured while walking down the aisle. Your emotions are tainted and instead of being in awe of the person you are about to spend the rest of your life with, you are consumed with nervousness and anxiety worrying about how you look in front of hundreds of guests. Another favorite would have to be the intimate moment we (Flo and I) were able to share before taking the “big walk”. He was able to express the way he felt (not just about the way I looked and how much he adored my dress—although that was great :-p) but also about our relationship: the moments we shared that led up to that day; the obstacles we faced in order to be together. We were able to reminisce about our past, share our anticipation and excitement for the future, and encourage and exhort one another before taking the leap. It was that bit of “alone time” where we were able to express our love for one another that was not possible and quite frankly, awkward, in front of 250 love-hungry guests! It may sound incredibly cheesy, but hey, that’s love.
Would you suggest this to other bride's and grooms? 
Sarah : Absolutely. There is no other way. Yes, it may seem ideal to wait to see each other until the aisle, but it pays off in the end to do it hours before, where hundreds of eyes and ears are not on you and your photographer has less of a burden on his/her shoulders. You give your photographer and videographer an opportunity to capture a life-changing moment. It is one of those moments where emotions are high and raw—it is so rare and so beautiful. You are handing to them an empty, clean, blank canvas in which a masterpiece can be created. And honestly, who regrets masterpieces of themselves?!
After the first initial meeting of the bride and groom, we give them a few moments by themselves with no other cameras. After they have their moment, we then begin the portrait session. I love this photo of Sarah and Flo because they seem so relaxed, in love and content. The best way to feel on your wedding day!

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