To have a first look, or not to have a first look. This is a question that stresses out so many couples. Here is a break down on first looks to hopefully help you make your decision without the stress!
To start with the basics, a “first look” is when the groom is brought to a location that is private. I ensure that no one is around so that the couple can have this moment privately (when I say private, I mean no other family, friends or wedding guests present. It is just the couple, and the photographers). The groom is positioned with his back towards where the bride will enter.
When the bride comes to greet her groom, she will walk up behind him and either call his name for him to turn around, or to touch his shoulder and then he turns to see the beautiful woman standing in front of him who is about to be his wife. They cry, they hold each other, they get to take it all in privately and have a couple minutes talking and getting all of the nerves out of their system.
Some couples fear that the first look will take away some of the emotion from the couple seeing each other as they walk down the aisle. Based on what I witness, this is not the case. The groom still gets emotional watching his bride walk towards him during the processional.
The first look calms the couple down and helps with nerves. It also gives the couple an opportunity to have some alone time on their wedding day. It is the ONLY time the couple has alone. Without a first look the only alone time a couple has is when they close their door at the end of the night. The blur of the wedding day happens so fast, couples enjoy these minutes right after the first look being alone and in peace and quiet. I always tell my couples to take as long as you need. Take a minute, take 5 minutes.
Another huge benefit of having a first look is having way more photos! I have unrushed time with the bridal party and with the couple to get those wedding day photos. Without a first look we typically have one hour (during the cocktail hour) to get in the family formals, bridal party and bride and groom photos which does not leave a lot of time. If you want a gallery full of portraits, I highly recommend having a first look.
Alternatively, if you are set against the first look and want the traditional walk down the aisle and seeing each other for the first time then, consider a “first touch”. Where couples read each other either their vows, or a letter that they write to each other. They hold hands typically around a door and are able to talk to each other without seeing each other. (Videographers love this, by the way. It’s amazing for a wedding video). This has the same calming feeling and being able to touch and connect with your loved one before the craziness of the day brings peace.