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A first look is the big reveal when the couple gets to see each other for the first time in their wedding attire. Usually, one person is turned away while the other walks up behind them.
First looks are a new wedding tradition that many couples aren’t sure about. Some couples are all for it, some are very adamantly against it and most couples are undecided because they can see the perks of doing it but don’t want to lose that climatic moment of walking down the aisle.
I’ll be honest- I can see it both ways, and I understand why couples are afraid of losing that emotional moment during the ceremony. However, after shooting so many first looks (most Lumos Couples opt to do them) I am sold on them, and will be doing one myself!
If you’re not sure which option to go with, here are some things to consider before you make your decision-
The walk down the aisle
One thing that surprised me when I started shooting first looks is that the walk down the aisle was still amazing! Still emotional. Joyful. Triumphant. Incredible. Even if you opt for a first look, walking towards your adventure partner for life while surrounded by your friends and family is going to be a highlight of your life. He’ll still be soooo excited to see you! But since you’ve seen each other already, the nerves are lessened tremendously and all that’s left is pure joy and excitement!
Did you know that most couples who don’t do a first look spend over half of their wedding day apart? That really surprised me when I realized it! When you do a first look, you get to be together throughout most of the day other than the getting ready part. Why wouldn’t you want your best friend by your side for most of your wedding day?
Normally at least 15 minutes is scheduled in the timeline for the first look. That’s time that you can have some alone time to enjoy each other’s company and gush over how amazing you both look! When you don’t do a first look, you might have some down time before the ceremony since you won’t be doing portraits, but you don’t get to be together during that time. When you do a first look, you get to spend way more of your wedding day together!
When your groom sees you for the first time when you’re walking down the aisle, there are going to be approximately a million emotions he’ll be experiencing simultaneously. Joy, exhilaration, nerves, love, attraction, surprise- you name it.
The hard part about it though is that he can’t do anything with those emotions. He’ll smile and maybe get teary-eyed, but he can’t hug you, kiss you or twirl you around. He can’t tell you how stunning you look or express how insanely excited he is to get to spend the rest of his life with you. He can do that after the ceremony, but it will be 30ish minutes after he sees you initially. If you’re doing a receiving line afterwards, you really won’t have time to yourselves to express all of your giddiness to each other because you’ll likely go right from the receiving line to photos.
Consider the crowds
If you decide on a first look, it’s really important to consider how many people you want around, if any. Trust me- the wedding party and your parents will all be wanting to see this huge moment! If you want a crowd of people around cheering you on as you see each other for the first time, that’s great! If you don’t though, make sure to tell your parents and wedding party that you want the moment to be private! Make sure to let your photographer know as well so they can find a secluded area for you and shoo away any onlookers.
This is a big part of the day when you will want to make sure your photographer’s approach to the day matches what you are looking for. Some photographers are very hands on and set up every shot with meticulous detail so they are almost staged. Others are involved with helping the day run smoothly, but let the moments unfold naturally and authentically.
I always put on my longest lens, hide discreetly behind a tree or in tall grasses and let the couple do their thing. Once I feel like I have all the good shots, I let the couple have some time to themselves. I’ve worked with photographers who do it very differently though. They have stopped the bride moments before the groom turns around to see her to stage a photo or adjust the light or their settings.
I always schedule bride and groom portraits right after the first look. It’s perfect! It’s usually just the two of you, and you are absolutely glowing with joy from seeing each other for the first time! I’ve found when these portraits are done after the ceremony and after family portraits and bridal party portraits they get really rushed because everyone is anxious for the reception to start, and you don’t want to keep your guests waiting.
These photos of the two of you will fill your wedding album, hang on your walls and be shown to your kids years later when they ask to see your wedding photos. You don’t want this time to get cut short and feel rushed. Besides, it’s hard to get back into that happy lovey mood when all of your family is standing around watching and waiting for you to wrap up.
Keep your expectations in check
It’s so fun to picture how your partner will react when they see you for the first time! However, try not to get carried away with it. He’ll be so excited to see you, but he might not fall down on the ground weeping at the sight of your sheer beauty.
For example, I am really excited for my first look with Tony, but I am keeping in mind that he might not show much emotion when he sees me for the first time. He is a very sentimental and emotional guy, but he doesn’t always show it, especially when he is overwhelmed.
I threw him a surprise party once that I was so excited about and spent months planning! He walked into the room to see all of his closest friends there and… crickets. He just looked around silently. I know he really appreciated the party and all of his friends being there, but he had a hard time showing his excitement and gratitude in that moment. The moral of the story is to show your guy grace and don’t be disappointed if he doesn’t react like you thought he would.
Daddy/Daughter first look
Definitely add one of these to your day if you’re a daddy’s girl! It’s doesn’t have to be a super big deal or something that takes up a ton of time, but make sure the first time your dad sees you is significant. His baby girl is getting married and that’s a huge deal for many dads!
See an entire wedding where the Lumos Couple chose to do a first look-