Why We Chose to Do the Bride & Groom "First Look"


{All wedding photos taken by Kristen Edwards Photography}
This is kind of a random blog post topic, but I thought of it the other day when I was browsing my wedding pictures (which I still do, two years later) and thought it would be fun to share and see what you guys think. So make sure you comment on this one! I'm interested to see which is more preferred.

I was the first of my friend group to get married, which is funny because Jordan and I started dating after most of my friends. When we were planning the wedding, one thing we decided early on was to do the bride and groom "first look," which means we saw each other and took pictures before the wedding ceremony.

The idea of the first look appealed to me right away. I liked the idea of getting specific pictures of our special moment while we had a chance to see each other up close before the ceremony began.

All my friends who have gotten married since we did have waited until the actual walk down the aisle to see each other. I think whether or not the bride and groom want to see each other before the ceremony is a completely personal preference; neither is right or wrong. 

However, I wanted to share why we chose to see each other before in case any of you out there haven't decided for sure what you want to do. And, again, I'd love to hear your thoughts (if you've already decided) on what you did/will do.

First, let me say that both Jordan and I are very happy with our decision and don't regret not waiting until the doors opened and I walked down the aisle. 

There's definitely something special about seeing each other for the first time, but that first time doesn't have to be in the traditional sense as the bride walks down the aisle

Obviously I can't speak for exactly how it feels to have the doors open and see the groom for the first time on the altar, but I do know that it's such a unique feeling to have everyone standing, staring at you, and to see your man down front looking fine in his suit. I didn't feel like anything special had been taken from us because the aisle walk wasn't the first time we were seeing each other that day. While walking down the aisle, I felt just as excited and nervous and weepy as I expected to feel had we not seen each other.

The day of your wedding, you're full of emotions: excited, nervous, and possibly stressed. Jordan and I loved having a chance to see each other before the ceremony because it helped us calm down and be less stressed. Jordan's a huge introvert and was nervous about being in front of all those people. Having the chance to see me calmed him down.

I think there's a lot of emphasis put on the groom not seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle, but all that did, at least for Jordan and I, was make us more stressed out.

Besides the stress factor, seeing each other before the ceremony is a great idea if only for the simple fact of photography logistics. 

Jordan and I had our "first look" moment, and then we went into the sanctuary and took portraits. By this time, the bridal party was ready to go as well as immediate family, and we were able to get all the formal pictures in before the ceremony started. 

That way, after the ceremony, we didn't have to tell people to stay around or force people out of the sanctuary so we could take pictures. I'd planned for a bit of time between the ceremony and reception, and we used that time to take fun pictures outside, which we wouldn't have had time for if we were taking portraits inside. We actually ended up driving to a wheat field about 10 minutes away and taking pictures in someone's backyard. 

I know you can split it up and take all the bridesmaid pictures and the groomsmen pictures without having the bride and groom actually see each other, but something I thought was fun (that I hadn't considered before) was watching the guys get their pictures taken and just having everyone hang out together before the ceremony. (It probably helped that mostly everyone in the bridal party knew each other.)

In the end, like I said, it's a personal preference. Neither is right or wrong. But I definitely think the "first look" is something to consider. The day is full of excitement and nerves, and it was fun to have a chance to see Jordan earlier in the day. It calmed both our nerves and put less emphasis on seeing each other right at that moment.

Because that moment is always going to be special no matter what.

What's your preference? Would you do a "first look" or wait?
The Girl who Loved to Write said...

These are so beautiful!

Katie Marsh said...

My husband and I got married last September and we did the "first look" as well and LOVED it! It was so nice to have our pictures out of the way before the ceremony started so that after the ceremony we could relax and go to the reception. Our guests also appreciated not having to wait 2 hours before they could eat :P

campbeja said...

A little time between the ceremony and reception?! I thought it was two hours! I may be off a little but I do remember starving. That said, your wedding (ceremony and reception) were beautiful but I would not recommend the timing to anyone.

Miss Jewells said...

We did a first look, too, but partly because we didn't have a choice (our church requires all photos to be done before the ceremony, so if we wanted any shots of us together at the church, we had to do them then). But, even if we hadn't been "required" to, I think I still would've chosen to do a first look - for many of the same reasons you said! It was nice to have a moment just the 2 of us (without 200+ guests looking on) and it helped calm our nerves a bit. Logistically it worked out well, too. And like you, we were both just as weepy as I walked down the aisle as we probably would've been had we not seen each other, so I didn't feel like it took away any of the special part of the moment.

What a fun post to read - your photos are gorgeous!

Mary said...

I'm getting married next August and we intend on waiting to have our first view as I walk down the aisle, purely because I am a tradionalist! But I completely understand why some brides want to meet up with the groom beforehand. It would have everyone much more relaxed, less formal and keep the atmosphere 'fun'.

Beautiful pictures! :)

Tamara said...

I have never heard of this. I was married well before any of my friends (I was 20) and this never occured to me to look at each other before the wedding.

I kind of wish it had now.

Although, it was awesome that the husband cried when he saw me and that all his friends saw that too. For, you know, ammunition to make fun of him later. Haha.

Except he spins it and says he cried because he knew he was f*cked forever.

Men are the sweetest.

Jordon said...

Initially I did not want to see Tyler prior to the ceremony, but now I am 100% team first look. We have a nighttime ceremony and I do not want to spend almost the entire day without seeing him! I think walking down the aisle will be just as special and we will have great pictures too!! Great post :)

LeAnna said...

Those wheat field pics are PERFECTION!

From Foothills to Fog said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I'm not married or engaged, but am a typical girl and have wondered which I would do. I love tradition so that part of me would want to wait. But I also like the idea of having pictures out of the way and calming nerves.

Jen @ wonderfullyunkempt said...

We did a first look more for logistical reasons. More pictures before the ceremony. We had everything in one spot, so we couldn't really do pictures in between. But, my god, I was so glad to do it! I was a mess of stress that day and all I wanted to do was see Jeremy and get a hug. He made everything better. :)

I think most of my friends, so far, have done the first look thing too.

Breenah said...

Gorgeous pictures!

There are so many things I'd redo for my wedding (as in, 95% of it. the 5% being the same people in the wedding party) and I'd definitely do a first look.

Anonymous said...

Two things I wish I had before my wedding: Pinterest and your blog. Seriously, you make such a good case! We didn't see each other. We had one of those "hold hands behind the door" pictures, but eh, that was okay. I hyperventilated just before walking down and only made it because of my dad. If I had seen Greg, I know that would not have happened. There was also some awkward timing/people waiting around involved that would have been avoided had we taken photos before everything! I love those pictures. The way Jordan looks at you is precious :)

Curious Runner said...

I love this! We got married 6 years ago and didn't even know about doing the 'first look' - or hadn't heard of it. But if we got married now, I think may be I would consider it, I like the idea :)
P.S. You too are a dang good lookin couple!

Cori @ Everyday Enchanted said...

I've been going back and forth on whether we should do the first look or not. I'm worried that it will take away from the special walk down the aisle moment. Even though, I've had a ton of people tell me that it will still be special. I think the first look will give us a private moment and a chance to calm down. Not sure what to do! I'm glad to hear that your experience was wonderful!

Allison said...

We saw each other before the ceremony too and had our own private moment. It was one of my favorite parts of the day and I would DEFINITELY do it the same way again if I had too! It would be so hard not to talk to each other, give compliments, kiss, etc. after seeing each other if you had to do it during the actual ceremony. Love your field pictures...beautiful!

Claire@MyDevising said...

Fun pictures! I'm kind of a traditionalist and chose to wait and see Colt when I walked down the aisle. The nerves were there, but the excitement and anticipation were unbelievable! I can see why couples would want to see each other before though - especially if you don't love being in front of large crowds. But for me, I LOVED the drama of it all and it's a moment I'll never forget. :)

Laura Morgan said...

We didn't do any first-look pics. I'm sure you've heard me describe it, but our wedding was rather... I don't want to say "non traditional," but it kind of was. We saw each other before the ceremony, and basically walked out to the ceremony together. There wasn't an aisle or a wedding party. We just had tables gathered around under some trees. I should send you the link to our photos because that might be more clear.
Now I can't even remember if we took photos before or after the ceremony... I think before because we wanted to mingle with everyone soon after.
Fun topic!

Jeneric Generation said...

Eric and I did the same thing! I am glad we did. We kind of did it for the exact same reason you guys did, too: photography logistics, and like you said, the first time you see each other is special no matter what part of the day it takes place. Eric and I had a quiet moment in the sanctuary before the ceremony, and it was perfect. I will always remember it. Also, I was afraid I would be too emotional walking down the aisle if Eric had not seen me in my dress yet!

Unknown said...

First off, BEAUTIFUL pics! You both looked AMAZING! It sounds like you had such a special day. I see some resemblance between you and your Dad. :) Everyone looks so happy and relaxed in the field.

I got married before FB and Pinterest, so I'd never even heard of the "reveal" option when I got married. If I'd known about it, I would have done it. We felt stressed and rushed between the ceremony and reception to get all of the combined pics in. My sister got married last year and did a reveal with her husband. I know they had a special moment, and it was great for us to get all of the pics out of the way.

Thanks for sharing such nice pics from your special day! :)

Hannah said...

We got married a year ago and did not do a first look. We're both traditionalists, so it was a non-issue that he wouldn't see me until I walked down the aisle. I understand why people do the first look thing, but I loved seeing my groom's face as I walked down the aisle (he had tears streaming down his face) and everyone got to share that moment with us. I think it was a favorite for a lot of our family and friends.

Ashley @TheCreamToMyCoffee said...

Um, you look gorgeous first of all! I love your pics too - your photographer did a great job!

We chose to wait until the I walked down the aisle to see each other and I definitely don't regret it. We have less pictures together than people who did a first look, but I kind of loved the excitement of waiting until that moment. Also, Eric was really excited about waiting and I thought if he was super excited about something relating to the wedding that we should do it (you know, since boys don't tend to get excited about flowers and all that jazz).

Unknown said...

I like hearing your reasoning! I've been to several weddings--some did the first look, others did pics after, and the worst part about all of them is the waiting time in between the ceremony and reception. I think I'm a traditionalist and wouldn't do the first look, but I really despise having to wait around for the party to get started so that the bride and groom can get pics done. There are only so many cubes of cheese you can eat before you get bored bored bored! My favorite weddings have been those that while the bride and groom are taking pics, the guests have something to do. So I plan to have a game or activity of some sort that will keep my guests busy so they don't notice the time to take pics.

Not that I'm getting married anytime soon...or have thought about...nope, not at all.

Betsy Transatlantically said...

oh man, doing a first look makes SO much sense! It would make the rest of the day go so much more smoothly, it would definitely calm my nerves before the ceremony - it's just sensible. But at the end of the day, for some reason, we just couldn't buck tradition in our own minds! I think because we're not having a religious ceremony and so we won't have so many of the normal wedding traditions we wanted to keep the ones we could :)