Should I do first look? Why?

They say that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. Sometimes traditions are worthwhile, but other times they’re worth examining! We think that this is one of those: consider a first look.

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If you don’t know what it means, don’t worry. It’s pretty simple: a first look just means that the bride and groom get to see each other during the wedding, before the ceremony. It’s usually just the two of them (and the photographers!), finding a quiet place to recuperate during the storm of emotions that such a momentous occasion entails.

Weddings are about the bride and groom.

Realistically, they’re a lot more than that. With bridesmaids and groomsmen and families and friends and loved ones and officiants and catering staff and so many more people involved, the bride and groom don’t always have a chance to breathe. Doing a first look gives them that moment: it’s just the two of them before they declare their love in front of people. Instead of getting pulled every which way by guests (which isn’t a bad thing at all! We wouldn’t have weddings if it was!), first looks are a way for couples to re-center themselves, to prioritize their relationship with nobody but us photographers around. It’s a way for couples to stop and really be able to say “I love you, fiancé,” not just for the last time, but potentially the most important time.

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From a photographer’s standpoint, it’s not just the quiet moments, either: we get to capture the magical moments of the first reveal, that instant when the groom sees his love in her dress for the first time and falls in love all over again, the snapshot of the bride realizing how dashing her husband-to-be looks. All of it. (And if you’re not the dress-wearing type, or you’re not an opposite-sex couple? Perfect: we still get to capture that reveal and see the love and tears and joy in your eyes. It never stops being special.)

When we say we’ll be there for the first look, that doesn’t mean we’re going to invade your space. We’ll take photos and get a bigger variety of  keepsakes for you, but doing a first look also gives us time to take group photos with your wedding party. While you and your spouse-to-be have a moment to yourselves to enjoy the serenity in the joyful chaos of your wedding, we’ll be snapping away, preserving more memories for you to look back on. It gives value, it allows a quiet moment, and it’s all in the service of keeping more memories around.

Let’s be real, too: it helps get the jitters out. Even if you don’t deal with anxiety on a regular basis, there’s something about seeing your fiancé all dressed up for the first time in front of a crowd that can be intimidating. They say that public speaking is one of humans’ biggest fears. This is kind of like that, you know? It’s not dread, it’s the opposite, but wedding jitters are something almost everyone ends up with, no matter how in love you are. It’s a big moment, after all. It’s a huge step. You deserve to get the jitters out.

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How you do it is up to you. You could wear blindfolds and have Alli and I guide you and count down to the reveal itself, for one! (We promise we’ll be careful with you–we can’t have the bride or groom fall over on their wedding day! This isn’t a sitcom, after all: it’s real life!)

We said up top, though, that some traditions are worth keeping. First looks don’t have to involve breaking the tradition of laying eyes on your loved one, ready to go, for the first time at the altar. Instead, we can leave blindfolds on you so you get a moment to chat with your significant other while maintaining the surprise. Touching around a corner is romantic, too, evoking the feel of long-distance lovers while the ceremony is just moments away. We’ve seen couples pass notes, too, bringing back days gone by of grade school giggling and clandestine love that’s all your own.

There’s a variety of ways you can do a first look. Chances are you’ll think of something we haven’t. After all, as much as weddings are about tradition, about something borrowed and something blue, about the guests and the families and about the joining of all of them, weddings are, at their core, about one thing: the love you share.

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