One of the BIGGEST decisions engagement couples toggle with today is whether or not they want to see each other before their ceremony in a special "first-look"or if they want hold tight to the traditional walk down the aisle moment. I am the first to tell my clients that I chose the traditional way on my wedding day(2011), but for many reasons I would choose differently if I could do it again. I certainly am not trying to convince you to choose one way over the other - they are both beautiful, but I do want to list a few reasons why I believe a "first look" is an awesome choice and maybe the perfect choice for you.
1. It is the MOST private moment you might get, for the rest of your wedding day.
I know this sounds dramatic, but it is generally the truth. When setting up a first look I always take my couples away from all the people and require that it be just bride, groom and myself. I am present of course, but I try really hard to be a fly on the wall. The moment you guys get to see each other I take a few shots and then back up and just let you guys visit and tell each other how amazing the other looks, kiss, hug, etc. I love to watch couples have some time to just relax and have a minute with the person that makes them feel most that way. This truly is a special moment.
The idea that there are 100+ people watching you and your groom as you walk down the aisle can be rather intimidating. All eyes are on you, and they still will be whether or not you have already seen one another. Why not put yourself in a relaxed environment to see each other for the first time vs. feeling all the nerves walking down the aisle feeling like you have to control your emotions a certain way? It's important to feel like you can express any type of emotion in that moment, so if being in front of a crowd would hinder that at all I would highly suggest considering a first look.
3. A first look will generally allow for more low key post wedding hours.
I typically tell my clients during their wedding consult that if they choose the traditional route the early hours will be very chill, and post wedding hours will be more GO-GO! If you choose to do a first look then the pre-wedding hours will be the GO-GO stage, and post wedding hours will be more chill. The reason being is simple, we have more to do (before or after), depending on which route you choose. A lot of couples are choosing to have a first look so that they can focus on EACH OTHER after their wedding instead of taking Family Portraits or controlling their rowdy wedding party during pictures. Generally when clients choose to have a first look we take about 20 minutes after the wedding and shoot some more couple shots while guests are heading to the reception location, which is a nice bit of time to celebrate your marriage together.
4. You are looking your absolute best!
You will get to see your fiance as soon as you are both ready and touched up to perfection. Not that you both won't be looking amazing all day, because you will, but sometimes due to heat, sweat, wind, time, etc. during ceremony, things will just gradually loosen up and wear. While this is also beautiful and equally perfect, I think it is safe to say we all would like our other half to see us at the height of our prep stage!
5. EMOTION (number 2)
If you think that there won't be any emotion walking down the aisle just because you have already done a first look - WRONG. The emotions that come with marriage happening within minutes isn't the same emotion that comes with seeing each other dolled up to perfection. Yes, the COMBO can be an awesome moment to wait for... but regardless, there will be emotion during both the first look and the ceremony.
6. You get to start enjoying the party that is FOR YOU.
If all that is left after the ceremony is portraits of you and your new husband/wife, what does that mean? It means you have 30 minutes together and then you can go ahead and enjoy cocktail hour, dinner, guests, etc. You're now married and you can now celebrate! Vs. having to take 2 more hours for family portraits and wedding party images. This is a big one right here friends.
7. The big one for me - more opportunity for great photos.
When you choose to have a first look it gives us the option to take photos before AND after the ceremony, allowing for more photos! Generally wedding ceremonies take place anywhere from 1pm - 5pm, and most of the time the sunset is nearing as the ceremony wraps up. The hour before and of sunset is such an awesome opportunity to grab more stunning images because the light is at it's finest.
To add to this point... If for some reason ,(and this does occasionally happen), there is any type of delay and you have already had a first look there is a good chance that you have already taken care of a majority of the photographs that you need, so the sun setting before photos are done is less of a concern (in the case of an unpredictable event).
Both choices can be the perfect choice for you, but often I've had clients tell me they wish they had decided on having a first look. My goal here is to just list some of my top reasons I feel that having a first look can be a really great choice!
I have shared images of both situations, and I find so much beauty in each. The most important thing to remember is that it is YOUR day and you can have things exactly the way that you desire.
I'd love to hear your own personal experience in the comments below, have a good day friends!
Planning engagement photos or helping out a friend, here are my top 5 tips!
1. Hire a Professional
Your engagement is such a short season of your life - small but mighty. So young and in love, just living your best life with each other is your number one priority, and maybe planning that wedding, too ;) Before you know it you're growing older, starting a family, etc. and life changes (not in a bad way, just change), so it's important to capture this time in your life before you move onto the next beautiful season. It's here and gone, so have it done professionally. Ideally you hire your wedding photographer to photograph your engagement session because it will give you guys an opportunity to work together before the big day!
2. Find the perfect outfit for YOU
There are a few keys here:
Comfort - You need to be physically comfortable AND feel comfortable with what you have chosen.
Colors - Neutrals and muted colors are the best options. These choices will photograph well in any environment. Stay away from bright colors that could be a distraction to the image. Try to keep blue denim to either you or your fiance, not both of you.
Accessories - Ladies, a neutral fedora is the perfect addition to your engagement pictures. It can be slipped on and off easily for some variety. Guys, pickup a bouquet for your lady because she is awesome and deserves it... then bring it to your engagement session. Flowers are the perfect pop of color!
Shoes - Wear nice shoes. They may only show up in some of the images, but when they do it is important that they are nice and clean. The saying is true, dress from the bottom up ;)
Whatever you decide to wear, make it something you feel like a million bucks in! If you can't decide or need suggestions just ask your photographer.
3. Get creative on locations
The easiest way to make your engagement photos special to you is by photographing them somewhere specific to you and your fiance.
Did you meet while on vacation? Go there.
Do you guys have a coffee shop you visit once a week? Go there.
Do you spend your Summers at the lake together? Go there.
Is your new home your happy ever after? Go there.
Do you love to go to concerts? Heck, let's go to a concert!
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO SEE NUMBERS 4 AND 5! Go ahead and gawk over Caylor and Katrina on your way there...
4. Go all out with yourself
Consider having your hair and makeup professionally done. Keeping hair and makeup simple is perfect if that is your style, but still having the help of a professional is relaxing and they know what they are doing - what photographs well. Just treat yo'self girl! (Unless you are one of those crazy talented humans who can do hair and makeup yourself like a boss, then I'm jealous of you and do your thing boo.) As far as nails, be sure they are nice. That can mean no polish at all or a nice manicure... nothing in between. Remember your hands and nails need to look nice because there is a good chance they may be showcasing that diamond in a few shots.
If you want to start the shoot out by sharing a glass of wine, then let's have a dang glass of wine. Have fun with your fiance and just be yourself together. Sometimes when I am photographing couples I direct each move, and other times I am just a fly on the wall - BOTH are necessary. Try not to overthink it and just do you. Just relax, IT'S FUN! Your engagement session is basically a date, so treat it like one - you will have fun and have the best turnout.