The Joy in His First Look

Anticipation builds within both of them.

“I can’t wait to see how gorgeous she’ll be.”

“I hope he’s amazed!”

She draws closer to him, excitement beaming from her. He turns . . . a smile explodes across his face (maybe a touch of moisture around the eyes). She looks spectacular! Joy floods through him as she slips into his arms.

The First Look!

Tradition says a groom should first see his bride as she comes down the aisle. Countless grooms have found themselves overcome with emotion when they first lay eyes on their bride as she appears at the back of the church. Tradition is a wonderful thing.

However, there’s another choice more couples are making these days. Instead of waiting for the ceremony, they stage a First Look photo shoot. There is still the anticipation, excitement, and joy (and tears as well). Depending on your style, preferences, and your plans for the day, First Look photos offer some advantages to consider.

One of these advantages is time. With the traditional way of shooting the “formals,” between the ceremony and reception, couples sometimes find themselves running out of time. For example, everyone usually wants to congratulate the newly-minted couple as soon as the ceremony ends. Depending on the number of guests (and how chatty they are), that takes away from the portrait time. Naturally, the couple is eager to return to their guests, so the photos can then get a bit rushed.

First Look photos, on the other hand, let you get all or most of the various group shots and the couple portraits done before the ceremony. This gives the bride and groom more time with their guests during the cocktail hour or, as a couple did at a recent wedding, spend a few minutes just with each other to catch their breath and savor the moment.

An aspect of First Look photos many like is that they’re taken in a more intimate setting. Typically, there is just the bride and the groom (and me, but just ignore me there with my camera and maybe a flash or two going off). This also makes it easier to capture the emotion of that of both the bride and groom in that magical moment. In addition, some people express their emotions better when they’re alone instead of in front of a crowd. Some of my favorite shots came during the First Look. Well, that and the dancing.

Of course, the portraits are only one part of the day and the photography. Having shot dozens of weddings, both with and without First Look photos, couples that I share with them what I’ve learned about the wedding day process. The information helps them decide between First Look photos or the traditional plan and how that fits into the flow of their special day.

Besides the photography, a good wedding photographer can l­­­end their experience and help in many aspects of your wedding plans (DJs as well). It can be helpful for your photographer to share ideas on setup and planning. It can make their job easier and also mean better images – by considering lighting and backgrounds, for example.

One of the most important things to keep in mind in planning your wedding day is that things often run late or take longer than you expect. The photography is no different. Make sure you plan plenty of time and be clear with the photographer on what shots and looks you want and where and when they’ll take place. Photographers should offer suggestions and tips, but don’t let them push you into doing something you really don’t like.

Regardless how you plan the photos for your wedding, make sure the wedding party and family groups are ready and available at the time you want to do them. Chasing people down and arranging them in the right location can really eat up the time. It’s best to designate someone who knows everyone and is assertive enough to take on the task of getting the right people where they need to be at the right time.

One last tip: plan time to breathe!

If you prefer Something Old – the traditional way – terrific! If you like Something New – the First Look photo shoot- wonderful! The only wrong choice is the one that doesn’t work for you and your style. You have choices and wedding professionals to help you work through those choices.  Think about what will make your big day the day of your dreams. The images capturing the moments and emotions – big and small, public and private – you will cherish for the rest of our life.

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