Why You Need a Pre-Wedding First Look
Call it a tradition, a superstition, or both. The bride and groom seeing each other before the wedding (pre-ceremony first look) used to be viewed as bad luck. This practice stems from WAY back in the day when marriages were arranged. Grooms were not allowed to see the bride until they were at the altar for fear that if he did not like what he saw, he could run! There goes that dowry… Since modern couples marry for love and not money (or cows, or land, or status – in most cases, anyway) the choice of whether or not to see each other pre-ceremony is completely up to them.
Reasons to Consider a First Look before the Ceremony
As a photographer, I prefer that my clients do have a First Look earlier in the day, but I do not require it. I leave the decision completely up to you. If you are on the fence about whether or not to have a First Look on your wedding day, there are a few things to talk over and think about. Here are a few reasons why you may need a First Look.
Having a First Look with your fiancé allows you to get out those nervous jitters before the actual ceremony. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve heard my brides say, “Once I see him, I’ll be fine!” I find a well lit, out-of-the-way location where you two can have your First Look moments totally alone. That way, emotions can naturally flow without onlookers. Isn’t that better than 300 pairs of eyes staring as your tears (and mascara, and maybe snot) run like a river?
Light and Season
The ceremony start time and season will affect how much natural light is available. Summer is great for long, sun-filled days but fall and winter cut our time for outdoor light short. If you’re having a wedding in July at 2pm, chances are we will have plenty of light after the ceremony for tons of photos. However, if it’s a late October wedding at 6pm, it will be dark before your ceremony even begins. If your heart is set on naturally lit outdoor photos, you may want to have a First Look prior to the ceremony. I like to start a couple of hours before or more depending on the size of your wedding party.
Avoid the Rush
How do you want your wedding day to flow? Do you prefer a more relaxing, non-rushed timeline? Or are you comfortable with getting caught up in the hustle and bustle? Having a First Look allows us much more time to get as many photos done before the ceremony as possible, including the entire wedding party. This leaves only family groups for post-ceremony photos while guests head on to enjoy cocktail hour. Typically, all post-ceremony photos are completed within 30-45 minutes depending on the size of families and how many groups you want. Then it’s party time!
If clients choose not to have a First Look, we will still get as many photos as possible of bride & bridesmaids, and groom & groomsmen separately before the ceremony. However, this option leaves us with ALL other photos afterwards. If you have a large wedding party, lots of family groups, or an offsite location in mind for portraits, it can take an hour or much longer leaving your guests waiting for the stars of the show to arrive at the reception. I’ve seen a few instances where this happened and guests were so hungry for dinner, that by the time it was finally served, they ate and left!
It’s Still Special
Having a First Look does not take away the special moments of the ceremony. It is it’s own special moment. It’s a time to release that nervous, excited energy, to share your feelings. You will have the opportunity to discuss how the day has gone so far, maybe give a special gift. Until the getaway exit, it’s the only time you two will be alone for the rest of your wedding day. Cherish those moments together. Saving a ton of time and stress is a bonus!
Ready to book your wedding photography? Let’s chat!
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Shanell Bledsoe is a wedding & boudoir photographer based in Knoxville, Tennessee, available for destination weddings worldwide.