Wedding Photography and Videography Forum

First Look or No?

I thought I had settled this question, but now I'm rethinking it. The ceremony is at 1pm, and the photographer should arrive around noon. I had really had my heart set on having my FI see me in my dress for the first time as I come down the aisle, but the photographer is concerned that the Church is a rather dark inside, and there is a "no flash" rule during the ceremony, so getting good pics of both me and the groom's reactions may be trickier. 

I'm concerned that only an hour before the ceremony starts seems a short time before the ceremony. Plus, I know that the first look is supposed to be an emotional, intimate moment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day, but FI is a pretty stoic guy -- I'd love for him to cry or give some strong physical reaction when he sees me, but I also know he's just not that kind of person. I'm worried he and I may feel awkwardly pressured to make a photo op out of the moments right before the ceremony that's not actually going to feel very genuine or personal. 

Sooo ... Thoughts? I'm a bit at a loss of what to do here.

ETF spelling (on my phone!)

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Re: First Look or No?

  • Do you have one photographer or two?

    If you have one, and the first time your FI sees you is as you walk down the aisle, you're going to miss a moment. Do you want that photo of you as the doors open, or do you want that photo of your FI reacting to the sight of you after the doors open?

    With two photographers that's not an issue. 

    With a first look, there are all kinds of intimate moments you can create (like, couples peeking around doors, or one walking up behind the other when their back is turned, etc). You may even get a more "honest" reaction during a first look because your FI isn't on show in front of a huge crowd.

    I'm a big fan of first looks and think they're so much fun and romantic. 

  • I'd like to add in regard to this sentiment too:
     "I'm worried he and I may feel awkwardly pressured to make a photo op out of the moments right before the ceremony that's not actually going to feel very genuine or personal."

    Don't worry about that. At all. The first time your FI sees you, no matter where it is, will result in a genuine and personal reaction. There's nothing to fake. 
    Think about some of the best photos you've ever seen- are people really doing anything...? No... human emotion flits across the face of even the most stoic person. 

  • There will be two persons getting photos, but I think lighting is the big issue. 

    I know that emotions will still be there, inside if not outward, when he sees me for the first time, whenever that is. I'm just trying to adjust to Being open to having that emotional moment at a different time than we'd planned for so long. 

    Practically speaking, is there enough time? the moms, bridesmaids and I have our hair appointments until 11:30, and so we should be getting to the church right before noon to get in our dresses. That shouldn't take long, but I'm a bit worried it will be a rush getting ready for the ceremony and that guests will be arriving in the middle of our first look. Probably over-worrying here, tho. I'm good at that!

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  • My canned answer to this question...
    I love a first looks bc...
    -I prefer seeing the reaction of the B&G in one photo. The groom will still be moved by the moment of you walking down the aisle, a first look won't change how he feels about you.
    -He's not looking at the dress, he's excited to see you coming down the aisle to marry him - having seen you an hour before isn't going to change that emotion.
    -It will save a LOT of time. You can go to cocktail hour and enjoy the yummy appetizers! You can spend more time talking to your guests, freeing yourself up to party on the dance floor more after dinner.
    -You can have a comprehensive photo shoot with FI at multiple locations if you want.
    -It calms your nerves and gives you some special time alone on an otherwise busy day.
    -You can have the bridal party and family photos done just before the ceremony. Everyone can be there a little early and then your parents are free to greet the guests at cocktail hour and be good hosts.

    DH & I went and took photos together for about 2.5 hours, just relaxing and having fun.
    Then we reserved an hour for family photos, still prior to the ceremony. We did not have a wedding party, but have large family, so it was about the same as having a wedding party. That way everyone got to start partying right away. I am super happy with the way we did it. It was wonderful having some fun time together without suffering a gap for the guests or us missing out on all the fun at cocktail hour.

    The wow factor is not about how you look, your groom is wowed bc in that moment he sees his entire life ahead walking down the aisle. It's the marriage, the promise, the future, the way he feels about you that cause the WOW, not the dress, the makeup, the hair or the way you look. You new life together is the wow 

    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • This is funny because one of my high school students just asked if H cried (no)and they asked if I was mad, they would turn around etc. Although I think its cheesy to plan these emotional phohots I think a popular one now is the (for lack of better term) "punching the sky" that grooms do. So less "oh my goodness she is so beautiful and more "hell yeah this is MY wife, lets party!"

    I did not have getting ready photos but had the photographer get all the groomsmen photos, then FL, then the bridal party and both families before the ceremony. where we all got ready (also the reception site). We took photos for just about an hour. We only took a few photos at the church afterwards with the grandmothers that did didn't make it to the earlier ones.

    Do you want to do FL at the church? How far away is the salon to the church?  Is there any cute spots in between? I agree I wouldn't want guests staring at me while doing the first look but it sounds like you might be cramped for time.

  • We did a first look and it was really great, it was really nice to have time just the two of us before the ceremony. Ours didn't take long (~10 minutes I think) then we went and did photos with the WP. My H is also stoic and an introvert, no matter where we saw each other for the first time that day there wouldn't have been a big reaction; its just not him. However a moment with just us was very special, and they are some of my favorite pictures from that day. 
  • We did a first look, so I am biased.  Yeah, I wanted it "because pictures," but the very last thing I was thinking about when we saw each other for the first time was the fact that the photographer was right there capturing the moment.  The pictures are awesome, but I'd do it all over again without a photographer.

    For me, it was one of the most powerfully emotional moments of my life, and I liked it for the simple fact that it grounded me for the ceremony.  We exchanged some personal vows and just took a little bit of time to reflect on our past and our future together in a way that we wouldn't have been able to otherwise.  It was nice to just have a few moments together before the ceremony, and it was one of my favorite parts of the day.

    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • Like you, OP, my H is pretty stoic; I have seen him cry exactly four times in the six years we have been together - twice in anger/frustration, once when his grandma died, and once when we was really stressed and depressed. I cannot imagine him tearing up in regard to a positive situation.

    We did a first look and it was great. But H did not cry. In fact, in the photos you can barely tell what emotion he is feeling. That said, that's not the reason we did a first look; we did it so that we could have a calm moment together before all the craziness started, and to get photos of just the two of us. Some of the photos from our first look are my absolute favorites, because they are more fun than traditionally posed photos. It also allowed us a chance to get a bunch of photos of the two of us together without feeling too rushed.

    I think our first look was an hour before our ceremony, but we also did all of the family photos in that hour as well. If you can be ready to go at noon, you'll have more than enough time.

    Here are a few photos from our first look/pre-ceremony photo session...

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  • Thanks everybody for your input! It certainly made me feel more open to FLs. In the end, though, we have decided to go with the original plan and hold off until I walk down the aisle.

    (1) We talked with the Church and we were able to work out the lighting (they normally don't turn the lights all the way up, which is why it's a bit dark, but they said we can for the ceremony since we can't use flash photography during the ceremony).

    (2) We talked more with the photographer and she agreed it would probably work best due to timing. The salon is about 15 minutes away from the Church, which isn't bad, but that means that at the very earliest we'll probably be arriving to the Church at 11:45. The photographer is scheduled to arrive around 12:15. We want to have some "getting ready" photos -- shoes, earrings, FI with the GMs, me with the BMs, etc. Most of these will be outside, though, as the rooms in the church basement (where we'll be getting ready) are really not very photogenic at all -- windowless little Sunday school classrooms, basically. There are some beautiful areas in town where we could go to get a FL if there was more time, but by the time we'd all drive over to someplace, get photos, and drive back it would be getting really tight. 

    (3) When I asked FI about it (and he has not voiced opinions about much through the whole wedding planning process), he said he'd really like to see me for the first time as I come down to meet him at the altar. I'm excited that he's excited about it, so however the photos turn out, I'm excited for that moment. 


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  • I really appreciate the support and encouragement, though! You all calmed my concerns about FLs, and I think I have a much better appreciation for them now. And you've all helped me look forward to the moment we see one another very much!

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  • Glad you figured it out OP!

    I just want to piggy back on what @madamerwin said (gorgeous photos, by the way!). I'm so glad I saw him before I walked down the aisle. We were together early in the day too and only separated to get ready, but I feel like having a first look was less pressure than the traditional way. 

    Funny thing is, we're both kind of goofy people. After we got the initial reaction shots, we were kind of like, "So... I guess we're supposed to have 'a moment' now? Well... you clean up nice. Cool accessories. Did you have fun with your [bridesmaids/groomspeople]? How much longer till we can take group photos?" It definitely wasn't meaningful for us in any way, just a fun way to see each other, and take the pressure off like I said. 


  • downtondivadowntondiva member
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited June 2016
    We decided not to do a first look. The moment that my husband first saw me walking down the aisle was important to both of us, and we were afraid that doing a first look would make it anti-climatic. Maybe it would've, maybe it wouldn't have, but as it was, the moment was perfect and I would not change it for anything. 

    But everyone is different, and a lot depends on the logistics of the rest of your wedding. For us, everything was at the same venue, the ceremony was short, the wedding party was small, and neither of us have big families. We knew that we'd have more than enough time for pictures after the ceremony, so a first look just didn't feel necessary. 
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