What do FOUR brides and a GROOM say? Should we have a First Look? What is a First Look?

What is a First Look and should we do it?

A first look is a moment planned for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.

Usually the bride and groom meet their wedding photographer away from family and friends to give them privacy and to make that moment just for them.

There are two main reasons I recommend a First look:
1. TIME.
Instead of rushing through family portraits, romantic portraits and wedding party all during cocktail hour, we’ll have lots of time before the ceremony….
and #2 is Privacy
Instead of knowing hundreds of eyes are on you during that walk down the aisle, you now have a completely private place and time to just soak it in and take as long as you want to savor the moment.
But couples sometimes wonder if the emotion is then lost during the ceremony time?

Here is more personal insights from three of my amazing brides:
(Her First Look is pictured above) 

And then keep reading for Crisy, Bride #2,

 Melissa Bride #3,

and Meg (bride #4) and Will (Groom!)

Ashley says….

“The first look was my favorite part of the whole day!    
Kyle and I got a moment to ourselves to take in our special day and to see each other. 
It was emotional and very important for us to just get a minute to enjoy each other 
before all the craziness of the day started.
 The photos are some of my favorite from the day. I loved having a lot of the photos out of the way before the ceremony because we got to spend more time with our guests.”
Did having a First Look lessen the emotion when you walked down the aisle?
“No, I loved having the emotional moment shared between us first. It made it special because we didn’t have to share that with anyone else. We got to say what we were thinking and just take our time to take each other in. 
 I was still just as excited to walk down the aisle and it took the edge off because we had seen each other. I almost feel like it made me less nervous because I already knew he thought I looked gorgeous and got his emotional response one on one.  
He cried during the first look and while I walked down the aisle and 
I had only seen him cry two other times in 5 years. 
I was so happy we did a first look.”
Ashley, Bride

Here are some portraits captured immediately after her First Look –
BRIDE #2  Crisy:
“My experience for the first look on our wedding day was perfection. Having your soon to be husband seeing you in a private setting looking amazing you can’t help but 
be overwhelmed by emotion.  
  I had butterflies in my stomach all day thinking about seeing him.   
So many thoughts were running through my head…..”  
When I saw my husband standing there with his back to me for the First Look —
unaware I was behind him, I literally wanted to scream with excitement. 
I walked up behind him and put my hands over his eyes.  
He turned around and the moment I saw his face, I couldn’t help but tear up with emotion. 
He teared as well, said “you look so so beautiful”.  
That made me lose it…I was so glad
it was just the two of us there…. 

I pulled him close and began kissing him.
With every passing second of being there with him, just the two of us, the butterflies flew away and I just felt so comfortable with him, I then just wanted the ceremony over and be his wife already. 
After that first look I told my husband, “okay, I am ready to be your wife now”. 
Crisy, did having a First Look lessen the emotion when you walked down the aisle?

Crisy:  “I definitely think doing the first look relaxed us both before the ceremony, but we both still felt a lot of emotion during the ceremony,

mainly realizing “Holy cheese balls we are getting married.. this is it!!!”  The only thing the First look took away was the tension.
  It was a different emotion for the ceremony, because you then realize this is it….
… my life changes now.  We are so glad we did a First Look.
And can I mention that we attended cocktail hour with our guests
 AND have wonderful romantic portraits?  
Because we did them before the ceremony.”

BRIDE #3 Melissa:
Here’s a little mini-video of her wedding day Groom’s First Look followed by romantic portraits at Balboa Park
Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
A: “The first look was the moment we were both looking forward to the most.
Neither of us are very comfortable being the center of attention and were super nervous all morning about having to talk in front of people and
have everyone we know staring at us all day. We texted each other a few times and talked about how we were handling our jitters.
I later found out that James spent his morning pacing in the backyard and I explained that I played Mario Kart to distract myself from my anxiety.
We both really just wanted to be together and be able to spend the day together, which is why we chose to do a First Look session – so we wouldn’t have to delay seeing each other until we were standing in front of everyone else.
The moment we were able to hold hands in the van, with James blindfolded in the front seat, my anxiety melted away because at least we were together.
We both showed up. We were going to do this thing for real.
When the day was over and we were walking back to our hotel, we were both giddy with the excitement of the day being over; we both managed to make it through the day without falling on our faces or messing up during the ceremony.
While we loved our day and had a great time and enjoyed visiting with our families from all over the country, we were so happy to be done with the stress of planning.”

Bride Meg and Groom Will:

Bride Meg:
I knew before we even got engaged that I wanted a first look.
It was such a special moment between me and my husband (that was only minority interrupted by spying friends).
I knew that by taking that time for us, it would center us before the ceremony and help keep me calm.
After all, he is my rock.

Seeing him and sharing that moment was one of the highlights of the day.
  As we waited for the ceremony to start, we stepped into the bridal suite and shared a champagne toast just the two of us.
Then, once the reception began, we were able to devote our energy to enjoying dancing, drinks and food with our family and friends.  I highly recommend for all couples.

Here’s what GROOM Will has to say about having a First Look:
A wedding day is full of distractions.  Are my friends happy?  Is my family all smiling?  Did the decor get set up just right?  Do I look good or is my suit going wonky?
I really didn’t want those sorts of distractions to be present when I first saw my bride on the big day.
I wanted to just be able to concentrate on her, to appreciate and enjoy her in that moment.
After all, she’s what I’m really there for anyway.
The First Look accomplished just that.
I was so nervous, waiting for her to come up to me, but when I turned around it was just us in a little garden, taking it all in.
I wouldn’t have traded that moment for anything.

A quote from a wedding videographer – and I couldn’t have said it better myself:
The First Look:
1) It’s a special, intimate moment for the bride and groom.
Yes, the moment the bride walks down the aisle is a big, grand, emotional moment as well… but one thing it lacks is intimacy. . You walk down the aisle… your father gives you away… you stand there facing your husband-to-be… and you have to wait the entire service to really get to talk with one another. You can’t hug. You can’t kiss. For some this may be no big deal, and that’s fine.  And for those who worry it will take away from the moment the bride walks down the aisle, I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t. In fact, some of our most emotional “groom reactions” are from weddings where the couple did a first look. I’m not positive, but I assume this is because he’s already had a chance to see how you look… to asses the dress… and now it’s just “this is it, it’s really happening.” He sees you walking to him and instead of taking in how you look, he is staring into your eyes, taking in the moment. We’ve had many emotional grooms, both with couples who did a first look and those who didn’t… it really comes down to what you are like as people. But don’t fear that seeing each other before your ceremony will make the “big moment” during the ceremony any less special.
2) It is planned, but not staged.
There is a difference between the two. Of course the first look is “planned” (as is the ENTIRE WEDDING!!!)… we want to make sure that a) the groom doesn’t see the bride before he is supposed to, and b) we are able to capture the special moment and not miss anything while being as unobtrusive as possible. .
3) You will most likely get better photos and a better wedding film.
The hour following the ceremony is often the most crazy for photography. We are trying to capture Family Portraits, Wedding Party Portraits, get to the reception space, shoot decor before people enter the room, and shoot cocktail hour before it ends. So of course time is tight when getting Romantic shots of the couple.  Still don’t want to see your honey before your ceremony? 
That’s fine! It’s your day!  
Pen Weddings Videographer

Years from now, all that will remain of your special day is your photographs, so choosing your photographer is one of your most important wedding day decisions.

My greatest joy is to be asked to capture a couple’s love story from Engagement to Wedding day. 

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 I am a full time professional photographer based in San Diego, but will travel for weddings.

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