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Breaking Tradition: The First Look

December 19, 2013

Several years ago, more specifically 7 years ago, here in the south there was no First Look. In fact, there was no Traditional Reveal because there was no need to differentiate and put a title to it. There was no option: it just was. The first time the bride and groom saw each other was when the bride walks down the aisle. So, naturally, we didn’t know any different and it didn’t bother us.


Fast forward to just two years ago when I became a wedding photographer and First Looks were a thing and for good reason too. Suddenly, brides had an option and I wanted to give it to them. At first I was unbiased but the more I saw it, the more I read about it, and the more I photographed it, the more I realized: First Looks are great! And when brides ask me my take on First Looks (and I’m so glad they ask my opinion!) I tell them this:

The answer is threefold: 1) If your ceremony begins even an hour before sunset, there will be little to no available light left to shoot in afterward. And naturally, having your ceremony start after sunset will mean the same thing. In instances like this, I really encourage clients to do a first look because I want you to come away with images like the ones you saw when first making your decision to book me. That is, all images shot in beautiful, natural, and available light. The downside of not doing a first look in this case would be bride/groom portraits, bridal party portraits, and family formal portraits that all have a completely different aesthetic than what you’d expect from my work as a natural light photographer. That’s not to say creating nice images in these circumstances isn’t doable. But again, the whole aesthetic you’d once preferred would be missing.


2) Your wedding day will, without a doubt, fly by. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before, from each and every married person on the planet, and it’s true! As one of the most important days in your life, it is often one that is hard to remember simply because of the pace of it all. Having a first look will ensure that you and your bride/groom have one-on-one, face-to-face TIME with each other on your wedding day. Yes, you will be with each other throughout the day. But the intimacy and beauty of that moment when you’re alone (with your photographers shooting away from a distance) is something that none of my clients have ever regretted.


3) Seeing each other before the ceremony will by no means take away from the gravity of the moment when those doors finally open, the music crescendos, and you lock eyes at the end of the aisle, with everyone you love most serving as witnesses. The two are both completely different experiences. The first is intimate and private and special in its own unique way. Whereas the second is dramatic and intense and “Oh my goodness, THERE s/he is! And here I am. And in five minutes, s/he will be my all mine. Forever!” POWERFUL. I’ve never met a groom that felt his reaction at the end of the aisle was muted by the fact that he and his bride had done a first look prior. If anything, it just adds to the craziness of it all. The awesome and sudden realization that THIS is it. The same goes for brides out there. Trust me, if your man cries during your first look.. You better bring a whole BOX of tissues to the ceremony!


All that being said, if you decide to have a traditional reveal, I will not be upset or anything of the sort. After all, it’s your wedding and it should go how you want it to go 🙂