It is inevitable that in every pre-wedding consultation I ask one of the most polarizing questions I have to ask a bride. Are you going to see each other before the ceremony? Reactions to this question range from "of course I am" to horrified expressions of disbelief that I would even suggest such a thing. Most of the time though I get a very not confident "I don't know". With all the decisions a bride and groom make before their wedding this is one that often gets overlooked. Having not thought about it though a lot of couples will naturally default to not seeing each other out of tradition. Not seeing each other is fine but I want you to know YOU HAVE OPTIONS!!!!!
When it comes to seeing each other before the ceremony most couples think they have two options. Either see each other or don't. There is a wonderful third option that I think everyone should consider; the First Look. What is a first look you ask? I'll tell you. A first look is a private reveal for the bride and groom. The groom will usually wait for the bride either at the ceremony site or somewhere else away from all the action. The bride will then make her entrance and the couple will have a few minutes to decompress, giggle, talk, hug, whatever they want before facing the world. It's a great way to get a private moment and still have that emotional moment where the groom sees his bride for the first time but also free up the schedule to take portraits before the ceremony.
I always get tons of questions about first look sessions so I've included the most common questions along with my answers below. I know there are some of you reading this thinking "I know we're not seeing each other before, are we SOL". No, of course not! I'm working on an upcoming post where I'll talk about Around the Door sessions, which is a great way to get some portraits ahead of time without seeing each other. Look for that coming in the next week or two and please email me directly if you have questions about First Looks that I didn't cover here.
Why Should We Do a First Look? The biggest reason is that it still gives you that big reveal while allowing you to take the majority of your portraits before the ceremony. Taking portraits before the ceremony means your guests won't have to wait on you as long after the ceremony to take photos. The other big reason is that so much happens the morning of a wedding that often couples will want to talk about it. Unexpected things always happen. I can't tell you how many times I've heard I wish I could just talk to him/her.
How Long Does a First Look Take? It depends on the couple but I usually budget about 20 mins.
Will Everyone Be Watching? They can if you want them to but the First Look is designed to just be the bride and groom. I'll typically try to find somewhere out of the way and may post a "bridesmaid bouncer" a little ways away to preserve the moment if I need to.
Can My Dad Still Walk Me To Him? YES! YES! YES! YES! Understand that first and foremost this is about what you want. If you want your dad to walk you to your groom then by all means that's what will happen. If you'd rather walk unaccompanied then that's great too. We'll do it how you want it.
Are You Going To Take Pictures? Unless you tell me not to, Yes. That being said, if you'd rather me not be there I won't get my feeling hurt.
But I Want Him To Cry At The Ceremony. What I've found most commonly is that If a guy is going to cry when he sees his bride, he's going to do it regardless of whether or not we've done a first look. The emotions that often make guys cry have more to do with the reality of "this is actually happening" hitting them than being blown away by how awesome you look. I will also say that some guys are more willing to let their emotions flow when they're not standing in front of everyone they've ever met.
What Do You Do During The First Look/Where Will You Be Standing? Usually I'll start off near the groom so that I can get a good shot of his initial reaction. Then I'll move back to give you some space.
How Will We Know When We're Done? After a few minutes I'll ask you if you're ready to take a few portraits. From there we can roll straight into couple's portraits.