Ali and Jon and why I love First Looks!

Recently, a bride emailed me asking if I could tell her more about a First Look, and give her some information about why this might be beneficial to her and her groom.  It’s a subject I’ve touched upon in a few posts, but not at a tremendous amount of length, and obviously not enough, or all my couples would be doing them!  Let me start out by saying the First Look, to me, is the perfect way to make a hectic day run a whole lot smoother.  But let me start from the beginning.  

What is a First Look?


A First Look is when a bride and a groom, all dressed in their wedding attire, see each other before the ceremony, in a more intimate setting.  First Looks can be done with the bridal party watching, or family, or both, but most often I’ve seen First Looks done just with the bride and the groom, creating a truly intimate moment to celebrate the love of the couple about to be married.


Pros of a First Look:


Timing:  I would say this is the most important factor when it comes to doing a First Look.  Let’s face it, no matter how much planning goes into a wedding day, nothing ever runs exactly on time.  Hair and make-up can run late, the weather can be a factor, there are a million and one things that can throw a wrench into the time you had carved out to do portraits and family photos after the ceremony.  When you do your portraits beforehand, you have much less to do after, and you can actually go and enjoy your guests and your cocktail hour.  A wedding is a celebration that brings together all the most important people in your life, probably some that you don’t get to see as much as you’d like, and to have that extra time to spend with them would make it that much more special.


Relaxation:  While timing may be the most important factor for photographers, I think my couples who did a First Look would say that relaxation was the most important factor for them.  Weddings can be stressful.  There is so much going on and so much that goes into the day.  Most likely, you’ve had your rehearsal dinner the night before, and are probably tired from that, along with the months of planning that went into this amazing day.  Emotions are running high, and usually you haven’t seen or talked to the one person who you know can calm you down, the one person who will be able to make you laugh and smile and enjoy this moment.  Now imagine you can’t see that person until you walk down the aisle, and even then, you won’t be able to talk to them.  Then the ceremony ends, and you go right into greeting guests, and smiling for the camera, and you STILL have not had a moment alone, just to breathe and smile and be alone together just to take this all in.  I’ve never been married, but knowing how nervous I get, I know if I didn’t opt for a First Look, I’d probably be so keyed up walking down the aisle that I would start hyperventilating.  I think that would just creep guests out, so a First Look is a definite must for me if I ever get hitched :)


Cons of a First Look:


Aisle “A-Ha”:  The absolute only con I can see to doing a First Look is not having that A-Ha moment at the top of the aisle, when the doors open and you see your groom for the first time.  I think this is the #1 reason couples do not do a First Look.  Oddly, I think I’ve had more grooms say no because of this than the brides.  Most people feel they need to stick with tradition, and they need to have that aisle a-ha moment with everyone watching them.  But notice I said “aisle a-ha”…. This is because First Looks still provide the A-Ha moment, just in a different setting.  I always set up First Looks in picturesque areas of the wedding venue, and have the groom face a certain way so that he can’t see as the bride approaches.  Then up comes the bride, taps him on the shoulder, and A-HA!  It gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME that groom turns around and sees his bride for the first time.  The looks on both brides and grooms faces are PRICELESS.  There are usually some tears (sometimes the couple cries too, not just me :) and then a lot of laughter, and usually I like to step back for a few minutes right after just to give some time alone.  But the a-ha moment is always still there, always.  And when you do walk down the aisle later, it’s there again…. Maybe not with your groom, but with the 200 guests who haven’t seen you yet.


“I’m sold, but my mom says I shouldn’t…”:


The most important thing I can say on this post is coming, so get ready.  I don’t have pearls of wisdom too often, so when I do, take note.  Here it is:  This is YOUR day.  This is YOUR wedding.  And this is YOUR chance to create the memories you want to create, with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  I know First Looks aren’t traditional.  I know they were unheard of in your parent’s day, and I know it will take some convincing to get everyone on board.  But if you are convinced, and if your spouse is convinced, then let that be your guide.  You don’t have to convince everyone else, because you are the only two people that matter when it comes to making this decision.  I love Mom and Dad, don’t get me wrong, and I know that they have probably contributed so much to your wedding day that their opinion is incredibly important, but trust me, they will be thrilled with the outcome too.  I have never known a bride or groom to regret doing a First Look, but I have had several who wish that they had.


And just in case it is the groom who has the most reservations about a First Look, click on the link below to see what Jasmine Star's grooms have to say about it.  Jasmine is my idol and one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world, and most of her couples do First Looks.  She had a few of her grooms write their impression of it, and I find it to be an extremely insightful and well written post, so click below!


With that, I am going to leave you with some recent First Look images.  I was second shooting for my friend Amanda of Orchard Cove Photography, and her couple, Ali and Jon, chose to do a First Look.  They were married at the Stowe Mountain Lodge, which I can tell you is one of my favorite venues of all time.  I did a wedding there in June and the views just take your breath away.  I spent the afternoon with Jon, and drove him and his brother Ben to SML, where we took golf carts up to the First Look spot.  It was one of those days where you could have cut the humidity with a knife, and the constantly changing light due to clouds mixed with bright sun made photographing kind of a pain lol.  I was changing my settings every 2 seconds!  But their First Look was absolutely PERFECT, and it’s the perfect First Look to showcase with this post.  Hope you enjoy, and thank you again to Amanda from Orchard Cove for having me!  Can't wait to shoot with you again tomorrow girl! :)


Not a bad spot for a First Look, right?







Love these photos of Jon and his brother!




Love this one... see the big white dress speeding up on the golf cart? :)



Here she comes!



Love the first moment after a First Look!







We were able to get the group portraits of the bridal party done beforehand as well, love these shots of the girls!



I knew I liked this couple from the beginning, but when Ali said "Can we do a bunch of jumping pictures?", I officially fell in love.  Love when brides and grooms have fun with portraits!



The top picture is a "group stretch" to get ready for the bottom picture :)



And then Ali and Jon wanted to play golf...I'll say it again... love them!!!




Some more portraits of Jon and Ali...




And because we did a First Look we had time to go to a few different spots on the mountain... like the chair lift...




I'll end with my favorites, from the bridge!  I hope I've sold a few of my future brides on how awesome a First Look is, and how much more you can get out of your wedding portraits by doing one!  Have a great weekend!