How a first look can set you up for a stress-free wedding day!

First look between a bride & groom on their wedding day at Windmill Canyon Ranch in Beaumont California

If you are planning a wedding, I’m sure the question of whether or not you want to do a first look has crossed your mind. The great debate between team aisle & team first look has become increasingly more vocal over the past few years. So as your friendly neighborhood Southern California Wedding Photographer, I am going to weigh in on the matter! And as someone who has always absolutely adored the tradition of the aisle, after working in the industry I’ve found myself whistling a different toon.

Before we dive into WHY – Let’s start with what the difference even is!

A groom seeing his bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle on their wedding day.

The Aisle

A tradition old as time, where the couple cannot see each other until they meet on opposite ends of the aisle.

A bride walking to see her groom for the first time on their wedding day.

The First Look

A private moment before the ceremony where the couple can see each other for the first time.

Traditions are great but they are not a must. New traditions are created every day so why should you pick first look over tradition?

Let’s dive into it!

1. Freedom

For generations, couples have waited to see each other on their wedding day until they were surrounded by everyone they know & love. While that is so beautiful in its own right. It can also be somewhat constricting.

You can’t…

  • React the way you may want to because all eyes are on you.
  • tell them how beautiful or handsome they look because it’s the officiant’s time to speak and not yours.
  • hug & kiss them just yet because it’s not the right time for that.

I think you see where I’m going with this.

A first look gives you the chance to have a private moment with your fiance. You can say or do whatever the heck you want. You can hug them, kiss them or tell them how hot they look in that suit! Because with a first look there are no rules. It can be everything and anything you want.

a first look between a bride and groom on their wedding day at The Clubhouse at Anaheim Hills in Anaheim California

2. Privacy

I don’t know about you but it’s hard for me to be super emotionally vulnerable in front of tons of people. With a first look, you are able to let yourself feel all the emotions & you don’t have to worry about hundreds of eyes watching as you Kim Kardashian ugly cry when your eyes meet for the first time. You can say anything you have been dying to tell your best friend while you have a quiet moment to do so.

Heck, you can even take things a step further & write a letter to each other to read to one another while you have a moment alone.
This can replace your vows or you can do it in addition. I always tell my couples that this can be all the things you wanted to tell each other on your big day but you didn’t want to say in front of all your friends and family. It also helps make the moment that much more special. The point is, there are not many moments that you get to have alone on your wedding day so an opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted moment with your future spouse on the biggest day of your life is HUGE!

A couple has an emotional moment during their first look on their wedding day at Ponte Winery in Temecula California

3. The Magic Myth

I’m about to drop a major truth bomb on you!

A first look will NOT take away from the magic of walking down the aisle
There is this idea I hear a lot from clients, that if they do a first look, it will somehow make the moment you walk down the aisle less special & take away the “magic”. I am here today to debunk that myth!
Now do not get me wrong I love tradition BUT the myth that a first look somehow taints the moment when you walk down the aisle is in my experience FALSE. I have photographed many weddings & at almost every wedding where the couple has done a first look, the couple still gets emotional when their eyes meet at opposite ends of the aisle for the first time.
That moment can not be tainted by the fact that you saw each other earlier because the significance of it is there whether you are seeing each other for the 1st time or the 100th time. That is the moment when you realize once you walk down that aisle, you will finally get to say “I do”.

A groom becomes emotional when he sees his bride at the end of the aisle at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point

4. Less Stress

Traditionally after the ceremony, while your guests enjoy cocktails & appetizers – you, your family & your bridal party are on a mad dash to capture all the photos you are dying to have. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s stressful. The alcohol has been flowing, the adrenaline has fully kicking in & everyone’s excitement has completely taken over. What does this mean? People are easily distracted, forgetful, overwhelmed and the list goes on. So needless to say capturing photos with large groups of people that are all consumed by these things can be rather challenging for everyone involved.

And when you add the ticking of the timeline to the mix, that is a recipe for STRESS.

With a first look, you are able to capture all of your photos that include other people before the ceremony. You are able to catch them all in the anticipation stage, while they are still focused & a lot more inclined to listen to instruction before all those happy chemicals take over. People are also typically more alert & willing to do whatever you need them to do when they don’t feel like they are “missing” the party going on at cocktail hour.

This also frees you & your future spouse up to focus solely on each other after you say “I do”. You can head off to take sunset photos after your ceremony alone & make out (jk lol but not really) for as long as your heart desires without the stress of not having enough time.

A couple enjoying a moment alone on their wedding day at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula California

At the end of the day – it is YOUR wedding. And I fully believe it will be special & magical no matter what. Because it will always be the day that you married your best friend. So screw tradition or don’t. But whatever you decide, do it because it’s what you really want. Not because it’s what other people told you that you have to do!

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