There are a lot of wedding traditions, some old and some new, but when it comes to your wedding day, you ultimately have to chose to embrace those that are the most important to you. Neither Charles or I are super traditional, so there weren’t a lot of traditions that we felt we had to have on our wedding day. I’ll share more on other traditions we skipped out on later, but for today I wanted to talk about a newer tradition that seems to be becoming more and more prominent: the first look. There are a lot of pros and cons to embracing this new tradition and today I’ll be breaking them down and hopefully help you when deciding if you should you do a first look or not. If you’re curious whether or not we did one and why, be sure to read to the end!
PRO: You can get the tears out of the way
If you or your fiancé anticipate that you’ll cry during the ceremony, then a first look may be a great way for you both to get the tears out of the way. Particularly if you don’t love crying in front of people. It also gives you as the girl an opportunity to fix your makeup. If you are nervous, seeing your soon-to-be husband or wife may help ease these anxious feelings before the actual ceremony.
CON: You’ll lose that epic aisle moment
Your almost-husband seeing you as you walk down the aisle is an extremely special moment that you’ll never be able to recreate. Seeing his first response to you in your dress and walking towards him just before you say your vows is something so special that may be diluted if you see each other prior to the ceremony.
PRO: You can get photos taken before
There can be a long list of photos to take on your wedding day. If you do a first look, you can get all the couple photos and family photos out of the way so that after your ceremony you can start the celebration.
CON: You’ll need to be ready much earlier on your wedding day
Getting in a first look and doing all your photos before the ceremony will mean you’ll need to be ready a few hours earlier. This may mean getting up earlier or rushing before your ceremony to get photos finished before guests start to arrive.
PRO: You can have a private moment together before the ceremony
Yes, you can have one together after if you wait and take photos just the two of you, but before hand may be helpful for either of you if you feel nervous and want them to help you feel calm. I can imagine this would be especially helpful for a large wedding.
CON: The moment can feel staged
As much as getting the photos out of the way can be a pro in terms of time, getting all those photos checked off the shot list can be stressful. It can feel sort of business like to heard everyone you need one direction or another, which may be a lot just before you walk down the aisle. Also, walking out with your photographer perfectly in place can feel staged and not as special. I am all about ‘getting the shot’ and have done all sorts of things for a photo opp, but having a certain reaction or something isn’t so my style during such a special moment. I wanted it to feel organic and just like us. Neither of us are super emotional, especially in public, so we didn’t want to have to provide a certain response for pictures.
Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you as a couple based on who each of you are and what your wedding day looks like. People may try to persuade you one way or another, but I really feel strongly that this is something you and your fiancé need to decide on your own. I’ve known couples who were together all day and even got ready together leading up to their ceremony and others who don’t even talk, let alone see each other, after the rehearsal dinner.
We decided not to do a first look. We were having a small, intimate wedding and didn’t want anything to feel staged or less special in the moment. It would have definitely been nice to have photos out of the way before hand, but I loved having that time together after we just said our vows to let being married set in. Our guests were entertained with a cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres, and music while we were taking our photos. I think our moment ended up being a beautiful reflection of us. We were both composed, excited, and eager. We weren’t gone too long taking photos and were able to get back and enjoy the rest of the night with all of our friends and family. It was definitely a whirlwind moment walking down the aisle, and I can’t wait to relive it all when we get our wedding video back!
Hopefully this helps you when choosing whether or not to do a first look on your wedding day. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer and that each couple and wedding may call for something different. If we had a little bit of a larger wedding in a different setting, a first look would have been a great option for us! Regardless of you seeing each other before the ceremony or after, its a beautiful moment and even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, as long as you end up married that day, that is all that matters! XO
Photos by Stephanie Parsley Photography