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First Look or Down the Aisle?

It took me some time to realize the role of the wedding photographer as a much more complex than being a photographer in any other photography genre. The wedding photographer is the one closest to the couple during the entire day. The expectations are not only to document the day, capture the precious moments, the emotions and the tears;  to focus on the details, and document the surrounding; but also to make sure the timing is right, places and people are coordinated, and the bride and the groom are taken care of and happily enjoying their wedding day. Months of preparations, and you still can be surprised by unexpected emotions on a perfectly planned day. That’s why I found it essential to have a set of tips and an entire list of questions that I usually discuss with my clients during the planning stage of the wedding. One of the most common questions I have been asked is about the first look – “Should I do a First Look? How should I plan it? Where should I do it? Who should be there?”. The pros and cons are numerous. Both – the bride and the groom, should decide if it is the right choice to have the first look or to see each other at the altar. Here is my input.

Calms The Nerves

Let’s start with the fact that seeing each other ready to start your lifelong journey together will be an emotional moment for both of you.  Pre-planned, a First Look can ease any pre-ceremony nerves, and let you get the tears out, without thinking about everyone looking at you. I remember a bride sharing with me that seeing each other at the altar was so emotional and nerve breaking, that she doesn’t remember most of the ceremony. Without the pressure of a big audience, the first look allows you to show your emotions and ease the pressure. You can “slow” the moment, hug, kiss, “chase” each other, have fun, and enjoy the moment much longer. You can pose for pictures, have a drink, fix your make up, plan time to relax. Many couples exchange gifts or use the time to give a secret note to each other. Make sure you share your plans with your photographer, so she/he is prepared to capture it.

More pictures

As a photographer, this is my favorite pro when it comes to the First Look. I noticed that having the first set of pictures right after the First Look can be fun and more enjoyable. The photographer will be able to capture more intimate looks and spontaneous gestures between the two of you. Also, consider that you can have extra time for family pictures after the ceremony, and even time to enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests. More time planned fro your photographer means more pictures, and let’s face it – what you will have left to look at after the time passes, will be those precious moments captured by the camera. They will bring back the memories of the day, and make you re-live the happiness and the joy of your wedding day.

Be in control

In contrast, the atmosphere is much different when you see each other at the altar. The emotions build-up, the moment is more dramatic and the ceremony sometimes more memorable. I noticed most man being serious and feeling the pressure when the bride walks the aisle; everyone is curiously looking at the groom, wondering if they will see a tear or two (which a man usually is desperately trying to hide). The bride – yes, she is expected to cry, show her emotions, lean on her father’s shoulder; her make up may get messy, but she needs to keep it together because everyone is looking at her and the ceremony had already started.    

The timing can be a con if your wedding is in the morning hours and you want to add time for a First Look. You will need to get your hair and makeup done earlier, get dressed, maybe go to an additional location. If you have an afternoon or evening ceremony, early wake up wouldn’t be a problem.

Where you should do it?

Pick a place that “speaks” to you and brings good memories – first date, romantic dinner, wild moment, or uniquely decorated spot for stunning pictures. What to consider when picking location? It’s important that the guests shouldn’t see you, and also it shouldn’t be too far. While a First Look on the beach or on a rocky hill sounds romantic, think about how you will get there. The hills sink in the mud, the sand sticks on lotion, a hill gets twice steeper with the heavy dress and wearing high hills. As a photographer, I always research the area and try to help when choosing the place.

Who should be with you?

If you want a more intimate moment – make sure you have with you people you feel comfortable with.  Also, consider that more people means more logistics (car/limo for everyone, wait time for all to get ready). Make sure you are clear with everyone that it is not a time for group pictures or goofing, but all should respect the moment between the two of you. If you find it difficult to tell a relative not to join – always consider passing the massage via the photographer. The last thing a photographer wants is upset bride and family complication on the wedding day; so no, I don’t mind respectfully and nicely telling someone that it is a special photography moment.  

Have you picked one yet?

Down the aisle or a wild jump on his shoulders, there is no right or wrong choice when you are considering having or not a First Look. It is how you feel about it, and what would make your day complete, less stressful and filled with joy and happiness. Whatever your choice is, LightStrikes Photography will be always happy to capture the moment. If you like my blog and find it informative and useful, please like and follow LightStrikes Photography on FB & Instagram. More planning tips are coming up.

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