The “First Look”

First look

Recently I have been meeting with a lot of potential clients- brides and grooms who have recently gotten engaged and are now planning their wedding. I Looooove meeting with new clients – it is one of my favorite parts about my job.

In every meeting we talk a bit about their wedding day schedule. For many of them, it is the first time they are verbalizing it and inevitably during almost every consultation, the client sits back at some point and says something along the lines of “huh.wow…we are hardly going to have any time to breathe on our wedding day!”

And that’s where I come in.

About 50% of my clients have heard about doing a “First look” on their wedding day. A First look, essentially, is seeing each other before your wedding ceremony and serves a few different purposes. One of the main purposes is getting your formals out of the way so that you don’t have to rush to do them in between your wedding ceremony and reception. Beside that, there are many additional benefits to doing a First Look. Some love the idea, some hate it. I decided to do a blog post on the benefits of a First Look in case you are a bride or groom planning the timeline of your wedding day and wishing for just a bit more time to yourselves. I don’t push this on my clients at all, however, I do always bring it up and talk with them about it. If you are very traditional and want to stick to the rule of not seeing each other before you are married, then a First Look is not for you. If you are a bit more open and willing to bend tradition a bit, then a First Look may very well be a greta option for your wedding day.

Reason #1 – The Groom. There are few moments on a wedding day that are more special than when the groom sees his stunning bride for the first time. Traditionally, this is when she is at the back of the church and he is up front at the altar. The bride gets escorted up the aisle, meets her handsome groom and the two of them are rushed into their wedding ceremony. Most of the grooms (so I’ve heard) are choked up, have all this stuff they want to say, and they are thinking a million things….but before they can process any of it, they are already saying their vows. A first look allows the groom time to step back and marvel at the beauty that is before him. He can get a good, long look, turn her around, hug her, smile at her, cry, kiss her…and then do it all over again for however long he wants because it is his time with his bride. Let’s not forget the obvious factor that there is not the pressure of 400 eyeballs looks straight at him. He is the very first one who gets to see her in her wedding gown (beside bridesmaids). It is just him and her alone, together, in the moments before they are united as one.

Reason #2 – The Bride. Let’s face it ladies, when our hair and makeup is first done, we love how we look. But a few hours later it is not uncommon for those gorgeous curls to be a bit loose, the lipstick to be worn off, or…if you are prone to tears…the mascara to be running down your face. “Picture perfect” might not always be the case an hour or two after your hair and makeup was done. Inevitably, touchups will need to be made. By doing a first look not only is your lucky man seeing you looking flawless, but you will also look that way in your photos.

Reason #3 – The Timeline. Traditionally a wedding goes something like this: A morning full of busy bridesmaids bustling around getting ready, a fury of hair and makeup, get dressed, get transported to the ceremony location, walk down the aisle, say your vows, walk out to a receiving line, family formals, bridal party formals, bride and groom portraits, reception intro, first dance, parent dances, eat (if you are lucky!), greet guests (Aunt Betty will want 18 million photos of herself with you, by the way), dance for a bit before your reception is over. And just like that, you wedding day came and went. By doing a first look you allow yourself more time to enjoy your wedding day and take it all in. By seeing each other 2 hours beforehand you can get all of your portraits out of the way (or at least the bride and groom ones), have a 30 minute break before the ceremony, take some formals after the ceremony and then go to enjoy your cocktail hour. Many brides and grooms don’t ever get to see their cocktail hour because they are off taking pictures and by the time they get into the reception, the guests have already messed up the tables a bit. By doing a first look you are able to mingle with your guests during the cocktail hour so that you can actually sit down and enjoy the meal that you, undoubtedly, paid a lot of money for and then enjoy every second of the entertainment part of your reception. Your day is broken up into much more manageable segments, allowing you time to sit back and enjoy the most important day of your life. And it very likely will be the only time you get to spend alone with each other during your wedding day.

I could go on an on, but don’t listen to me…listen to those who have been there, done that, and lived to tell about it.


Tim & Anna

At first, I really wasn’t sure about what to think about the first look. I know that Anna liked the idea, so like any husband on their wedding day, I just went with whatever made her happy! The second that I turned to see Anna in her dress for the first time, I realized how special of a moment Alicia created just for us. We both cried, we both laughed, and for the first time in a long time, we both were able to enjoy that part of our day with no interruptions. No one asking how much time we had, or if everything is set up, or if everyone has arrived and on and on. For that 45 minutes it was just me and Anna. And she was beautiful. We talked about how we felt about the day, what we did the night before, the funny things that happened at the rehearsal, and how crazy our families were making us. For me, it was the best part of the day. It calmed my nerves and thoughts and most importantly allowed me to spend the quality time with my wife that we both deserved. Thank you Alicia for this incredible moment which I will never forget. ~Tim

Brad & Maria

Doing a first look was something that Maria and I were pretty sure that we were going to do right from the start. We had hoped to have pictures taken with the bridal party in a few different locations, and we knew that we would never be able to get to all of them if we tired to only take pictures between the ceremony and reception. After doing the first look, I was really happy that we did do it, and not just for the timing aspect. Maria and I had really wanted to get married on the beach, but since we wanted a Catholic ceremony, we knew that we would have to at least do that portion in a church. Doing the first look allowed us to have are beach front portion of the day and it was the perfect way to kick things off. The first look really helped to get the flow of the day started and it is something that I will always remember. ~ Brad

What do YOU think about doing a First Look? Did you do one for your wedding? Would you do one for your wedding? Leave us a comment and let us know!

  1. Dani

    January 21st, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Like I said before… I was sitting at my desk and saw there was a new post on your blog. Me being addicted to this perfect blog I instantly clicked on my *Alicia Land* bookmark. 🙂

    I sat at my desk teary eyed and little emotional after reading the newest addition…. everything about it is absolutely beautiful.

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