A wedding first look – some love them, some aren’t the biggest fans, and some are on the fence, with not a clue what to do. In a world where wedding decisions can be between tradition vs. modernized approaches, a wedding first look can be a toss up. While we understand not wanting to stray from tradition if that, we also understand doing what completely makes you happy. Nashville wedding photographer, Lindsey of Lindsey Brown Photography is sharing her story and how she now helps brides see all the benefits of a first look when behind the lens. Read more about her regret of not doing a first look below!
What are the pros of doing a first look?
Lindsey: 40% MORE PORTRAITS. You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with! With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money because you have time before the ceremony and reception to get these beautiful portraits without being rushed.
ENJOY THE SURPRISE FREELY. You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
EXTEND YOUR DAY BY THREE HOURS. First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. The WHOLE first half of my client’s wedding albums are filled with images just from this time together before the ceremony.
YOUR ONLY ALONE TIME. First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. When you see each each other, not only is it intimate, it is your only time to be alone the whole day! You can cry and laugh and cry some more… and that puts you in the PERFECT mood for your romantic portraits. Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals, and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look however, you’re READY to love on each other, and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments!
DIMINISHES NERVES. You get rid of your nerves! I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have decided to do a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms who initially weren’t a fan of the first look… but afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!
What are the cons of doing a first look?
Lindsey: The only real “con” of doing a first look is that it breaks tradition. Here in the South, tradition is a big deal. I get that. I was born and raised in Tennessee. Sweet tea, cornbread, and traditions are life. We fear that by breaking tradition, we may hurt someone’s feelings or get looked down on for making that decision.
Why did you decide not to do a first look?
Lindsey: The above question is the exact reason I decided not to do a first look at my own wedding. I wasn’t a wedding photographer then, so I didn’t have the information I have now, and didn’t know how amazing and how beneficial a first look could be to the wedding day. I guess I also thought I wanted that “walking down the aisle..his reaction captured on camera..” kind of moment. I was putting more thought and stock into getting the traditional pictures of his reaction than I was how it would effect our day otherwise.
Do you regret not doing a first look?
Lindsey: I regret not doing a first look for all of the reasons I listed above in the “Pros of a first look” section. I didn’t get any of those benefits. Because we didn’t do a first look, we didn’t get to embrace one another after first seeing each other. After the ceremony was over and we did family formals, we barely had any time for our bridal party pictures and our bride and groom pictures with each other. We were rushed to get back inside to the reception. My husband now admits that doing a first look would’ve really helped his nerves and allowed him to enjoy the ceremony more. And I would have gotten more portraits had we done a first look instead of being rushed to get back inside to the reception. I have SO many regrets about not doing a first look, and what breaks my heart is that I hear from friends and brides all the time that they have the same regrets as well. These regrets are why I am so passionate about educating my brides about the benefits of a first look and all the many reasons it adds to the experience of their wedding day.
Are there any alternatives to doing a first look without *actually* seeing each other?
Lindsey: Although I love when my clients decide to do a first look, my clients are never required to do a first look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing the “first look” option with couples who were against it, because I didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again, and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look! There are definitely alternatives to doing a first look that allow for some neat portraits! I’ve had couples who have held hands and prayed together while blindfolded. I’ve had couples hold hands around the corner from each while reading a letter to each other. I’ve had couples sit back-to-back to do this as well. This is definitely a fun way to build anticipation before the ceremony if you decide not to do a first look!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about a first look?
Lindsey: For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time. He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted.
As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway. Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits. No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure. It’s just the two of them and their photographer….. capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a first look…. it doesn’t.
After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends. Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup while the boys act like boys. After a few minutes the bridal party portraits begin, and they’re FUN. They’re FUN, because there is time to make them FUN. There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check. It’s wonderful!
After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony. The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony. As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness – but excitement. The music builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead. The groom looks up, and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning. The closer she gets, the bigger he smiles. Vows will be shared and promises will be made… this is what it’s all about!! And this is what I want for all of my brides and what every bride out there deserves!
Whether you’re opting for the traditional route or not, I think we can all agree that Lindsey’s advice and take on a first look is absolutely wonderful! Don’t feel pressured, but also don’t regret not doing a first look if it’s something you absolutely want. Thanks so much to Lindsey of Lindsey Brown Photography for sharing her story and professional advice with us!
Nashville Bride Guide’s Owner + Editor, Alyssa DiCicco
Since 2016, Alyssa has combined her loves to become the owner and editor of the local wedding blog, Nashville Bride Guide! The online publication showcases weddings, engagement sessions, styled shoots, vendor spotlights and advice posts from all across the Middle Tennessee area. Read more...