The first time you see your soon-to-be spouse is one of the most special moments of your wedding day. So how do you envision it? Do you imagine going the traditional route, and seeing your significant other for the first time at the end of the aisle, or will you be planning a “first look,” in which you see one other privately beforehand?
You can’t go wrong with either choice, but what you decide will inform how you structure your wedding day. Here are some things to consider before deciding on whether or not to do a first look. And remember—you can always change your mind! Just keep your photographer in the loop. (One bride we know changed her mind the day before the wedding!)
The Pros of a First Look
According to a recent WeddingWire report, 42 percent of couples choose to do a first look. Many wedding photographers are in favor of it, as it allows them to shoot some portraits earlier and take advantage of natural light. This is especially true for winter weddings, when the sun sets earlier. It can also be a practical choice: A first look allows you to capture a lot of pictures beforehand, so you can get to your cocktail hour sooner. (Cheers!)
Another benefit to having a first look? It helps ease pre-ceremony nerves, and lets you have some quieter one-on-one time before being swept up in the festivities. “I’m so happy I got to see my husband before our wedding ceremony,” says one bride who opted to take first-look photos. “It was nice to have some time alone before seeing all of our guests, and it relieved some of the butterflies we both were feeling!”
The Cons of a First Look
Of course, first-look photos might not be the right choice for couples who are very traditional. “My husband and I waited to see each other for the first time at the ceremony, when I walked down the aisle,” says another bride. “It was such a special moment, and even though there were lots of people watching us, it still felt like we were the only people there.”
First-look photos mean you’ll have to adjust your timing. You’ll have to budget in more time for pre-ceremony photos, which means getting ready earlier. (This can make an already long day even longer.) And you might also have to adjust your expectations: If your significant other doesn’t usually express a lot of emotion, he or she might not give you the first-look reaction you’re hoping for. In fact, one groom expressed his concern about doing first-look photos: “I hate being the center of attention, and I was worried that [my bride-to-be] would be disappointed if I didn’t immediately burst into tears. Seeing each other for the first time as she walked down the aisle—even though there were more eyes on us—still took some of the pressure off of me, because all eyes were really on her.” (Side note: He admits that he did cry when he first saw her.)
Of course, there’s always a third option: Turn the whole concept on its head and show up for your first-look shoot wearing your favorite sweats (as this bride did) or something even more unexpected, like the T-Rex costume this Pennsylvania bride wore. (Yes, really.) In any case, happy first look — wherever and whenever it happens.