You probably have quite a few ideas of the wedding images you want to capture: dancing as husband and wife, the candle light shining in your hair; throwing the bouquet, one bridesmaid gently nudging another out of the way; cutting the cake, your bejeweled hand delicately holding the knife, his hand holding yours.
Another shot on your wish list might be the first look. These are the photos we capture of your groom seeing you for the first time before the wedding. We choose a place, the groom looks away, and you enter the room or area. When the groom is prompted, he turns around to see you, and the camera clicks away.
You might be imagining your handsome groom brushing a surprise tear off his cheek as he sees you in your wedding dress for the first time.
But that can be the problem with the first look wedding photo. Maybe your groom doesn’t cry when he sees you. Maybe he has a coughing fit instead. (Okay, that’s never, ever happened. But you see what I’m saying. It could turn out to be not the long-lasting memory you dreamed of.)
Whether or not to take first look photos is a personal decision. Some couples do it. Others don’t. Here are a few of the reasons why or why not:
Pro: It Captures a Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment
The first time a bride and groom see each other is a moment that can’t be replicated. Anticipation is at an all-time high, and that first glance can bring forth big emotions that are beautiful and real in a photo.
Con: It Bucks Tradition
First look photos are staged before the wedding. We select a spot for you to meet the groom, and he turns around to see you when the camera is ready. If you don’t want him to see you until you walk down the aisle, first look photos aren’t going to work for you.
Pro: It’s Good Timing
Many couples choose to do their photos before the wedding, anyway, so they don’t rush through them to get to the reception. It’s easy to include a first look in the shot list if you’re planning to do photos prior to the ceremony.
Con: There’s Pressure to Have a Reaction
Maybe your husband-to-be isn’t emotional, so seeing you as a bride for the first time might not make him cry or laugh or anything else. He might just smile at you, like he does every day. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you, of course, but if you have a vision for the perfect first look photo, it could be a let-down if he doesn’t respond the way you think he will. He also could be tempted to exaggerate a reaction to please you, which could end up looking fake in the photographs.
Pro: It Eases Tension
With all the planning leading up to your wedding day, it’s common for brides and grooms (and parents and friends and just about everyone who had a role in planning) to feel anxious. Everyone wants you to have a beautiful day, and that pressure to have the perfect wedding can leave you concerned about whether or not the flowers are arranged correctly or if your sister can convince the ring bearer to leave his shoes on. Getting together with your groom for a first look gives you a chance to remember what’s really important. You’re both there, whether the flowers are or not, and that’s what matters.
Con: It Might Steal Some of That Walking-Down-the-Aisle Magic
Your guests are eager to see your faces when you start your walk toward the altar. They love you and want to experience your day with you, so sharing that first look with all of them, rather than doing it privately for the camera, might be important to you.
Pro: It Gives You More Time in Your Dress, and More Time With Your Groom
Wedding days go very quickly. Why spend it all waiting in a dressing room? Get up a little earlier, get dressed sooner, and enjoy your gown for that much longer. First look photos also give you a chance to have some quiet moments with your groom, enjoying each other’s company. As the wedding progresses, you will be socializing with your guests and might not get as many opportunities for one-on-one moments as you might think.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to do first look photos, talk to me. I’m glad to share some of the ideas and experiences other couples have had. By telling me what you value from your wedding photos, I can point out what you might find enjoyable (or not) about the first look.
It’s a decision you need to make, but in the end, remember, it’s not the most important decision about the day. You already made that one when you said yes to your groom! You’ll have beautiful photographs to enjoy for years whether or not you include the first look photo.
Considering a first look for your wedding? I’d love to talk to you about your special day. Click here to book a free consultation in my studio.