2011 Review :: First Look Wedding Pictures and real advice from couples

Should we do a first look? What is a first look? Isn't it bad luck for the couple to see one another before the ceremony?

All very good question that I will happily answer in this blog post. Lots of fabulous first look pictures will follow :) and then actual responses from couples to the question "What advice would you give other couples considering a first look?"

5 Reasons to do a first look:
1. Quiet time for the two of you together on your wedding day. You can talk, hug, see each other properly without everyone watching you both
2. Nerves and stress are reduced and you are more relaxed and in-the-moment for your ceremony
3. You get to enjoy cocktail hour and spend more time mingling with friends and family
4. Hair and make up will be fresh and fabulous (especially important when you're getting married on a hot summer day and your church doesn't have air conditioning)
5. More time for relaxed and beautiful pictures! Of the two of you, with your wedding party and with your family.

Reasons not to do a first look:
1. You don't want to see each other before the ceremony
Just for fun I would like to point out that the whole tradition of not seeing one another before the wedding comes from the olden days when marriages were often arranged. The groom wasn't allowed to see the bride until she met him at the top of the aisle in case he didn't like what he saw and wanted to back out. Of all of the strange wedding traditions - the groom stands on the right so he can draw his sword easier to fend off other suitors trying to steal the bride - the bride wearing a veil to show her virginal status and protect her from evil spirits - I find it funny that the whole "not seeing each other" is the one that remains...

And in no particular order, here are some of my favorite images from 2011's first looks and from the extra time we then have for couples pictures:

And don't just take it from me. I recently did a little survey of my couples that did first looks and asked the question...

What advice would you have for a couple considering doing a first look?

DO IT! It is so worth it. Having time to spend with your family and friends during cocktail hour is the best. Plus, your hair and makeup are so fresh! It is such an intimate experience.

Do it!! It's worth it and isn't bad luck (so far...). But really, I think it creates a whole other meaningful moment for you on your wedding day, and one that is just yours. My bridal party and family members were so happy to have the photos done before the ceremony, our hair and makeup still looked great (and that was extra important since it was 100 degrees outside), overall it just took a lot of stress out of the need to fit photos into a really short time frame. Three of my engaged friends have told me that my wedding convinced them to do first looks.

DO IT!!!! It was the best decision we made (besides having Leah as our photographer:) and made our day just perfect day!

I would tell them that they should do it, especially if they are at all nervous about time or even the weather. I couldn't imagine that anyone would ever regret it!

Just think about how a first look fits in with your idea of what a wedding should be and how it fits in with your personalities. We had a good mix of traditional and non traditional. Doing the first look helped us to accomplish two things: we were able to take a moment away from the 120 guests for just the two of us and spend that moment together and we were able to make more time to enjoy with our family and friends which was the most important thing for us. I was the groom and the first look was incredibly exciting. it was nice to be in a private location and share the first time seeing my soon to be wife alone together. It was very intimate and emotional and I really appreciated having the that moment to look at her and hug her and see how gorgeous she was and to admire her for a few minutes. And also to tell her those things. It was also a perfect time to give her a wedding gift! I am very happy we did the first look.

If the bride's reason is wanting to see his reaction as they walk down the aisle, I can assure you he'll be just as enamored after a first look. We are so happy we got to enjoy our pictures beforehand, and then spend the whole cocktail hour with our friends and family. It made me feel so much calmer seeing him before the ceremony. I can't imagine not being together for so much of the wedding day. I still felt so excited during the ceremony, but I was thinking about being in the moment rather than wanting to talk to him or say how handsome he looked (because we already got to do that!).

As the Groom, the first look experience was truly exciting. I knew my wife had spent all day getting ready, and even though I had an idea of what she would look like in the dress, I was still floored when I saw her and I knew that it was all really (finally) happening. It's a great moment to have on film, to say the least.

I would highly recommend it. I think having time before the ceremony to take pictures eliminates some of the stress of worrying about getting back to the reception, keeping your guests waiting, trying to rush family into their positions etc... Seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day will feel special no matter where you are. To take some time for just the two of us, before the craziness really ramped up, was very memorable. Our wedding ceremony still felt amazing. To see my (future) husband standing at the altar was a unique and beautiful sight. Our 'first look' didn't take anything away from the drama of the ceremony.

Ever hear the saying that your wedding day goes by like a blur? Well, it certainly does. If it wasn't for Leah and our videographers, we would not have all the memories captured so timelessly. The wedding day is filled with moments where the bride/groom are the stars of the show, and everyone wants to be part of a picture or video with the bride/groom. Honestly, I cannot remember who pulled me in for which photo and I'm sure my wife cannot remember either. But the first look is JUST the bride and groom. It is a time for them to spend a few minutes alone to bask in each others' love. And I remember EVERY second of our first look session. When I turned around my heart started to beat so fast. I felt like I had been gone on a business trip for months and was dying to get back. I turned around to see my wife, and I could not believe how beautiful she looked. She was more beautiful than I had ever imagined, and the best part was that I would be marrying her in just an hour. I think Leah's pictures captured that moment of revelation so clearly... there's one shot where I am hugging her with my eyes closed, and I am just about in tears... crying for happiness. I am the luckiest man alive!

I would absolutely recommend that they do it! Seriously, the rest of the wedding day was so busy and crazy, the first look was my favorite moment. And it is so cute to see the look on his face when he first saw me in the first look photos. It makes me smile whenever I see it. Truthfully, it was one of the only calm moments that we got together during the day. It gave us a private moment to enjoy together before all the wedding craziness began. We really enjoyed it and it is one of the happiest memories I have of the day. The rest of the day was extremely fast and busy, and it went by in a blur. I'm so glad we had that private moment just the two of us. I don't think it really affected my feelings during the ceremony. If anything, I think it made me a little calmer walking down the aisle.

And if I photographed your first look and you haven't yet responded to the survey it would be super awesome if you can click *here* and complete it :)

Comments below lovely blog readers, are you planning a first look? If you didn't do a first look do you wish you had? Coming up next is my 2011 review of ceremonies and couples pictures. Although...first looks aren't just for couples, sometimes we do them with parents,,,do you want a bonus post of parent first looks? Answer below....Happy Friday!

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