As a bride, I wanted my fiancé to be stunned when he saw me (I hope you were, Brian. Right?). I also thought it’d be beautiful for everyone else to witness that first time, and in order for that to happen, it would be when I was walking down the aisle. It would also add a level of “special” to it, that the first time would be in front of all of our guests.
Then I thought longer about it…..
My wedding was at 6:30, a little before sunset on that day. That meant enough light so my photographer would have an easy time capturing images, but not too much where it would lend harsh lighting to our photographs. We were out in a field, so that was our most ideal option for the photographer and her job. That also meant we’d get the best photographs possible.
In order to have my first look be when I was walking down the aisle, we would have had to fit in our couples portraits, family portraits on both sides, our bridal party portraits, and any other remaining photographs needed in the span of roughly half an hour before the light was gone. That would have been in between the ceremony and the reception (this doesn’t even count a receiving line if you choose to have one). Again, as both a photographer and recent bride, I will tell you that is next to impossible. It also meant that because I had one photographer, they were either going to capture my face walking up the aisle, or my fiancé’s face as he was looking at me.
I had a “first look”, and I would do it again the same way. We were able to get most photographs done before the ceremony even started.
It was also a way more intimate moment we shared together (aside from the bridal party looking on with several guests who showed up nearly an hour and a half early – oops!). I loved being able to not only share that moment with my soon-to-be-husband, but the practical side of me really liked the efficiency.
Many brides tend to put a lot of stock into these few images. They imagine their groom is going to be glowing, crying, have a mile-wide smile, or some combination thereof. Ladies, this simply isn’t always the case. You may have your emotions readily visible, but your dear beau may not. And that’s okay. I am willing to bet you anything that he thinks you look/will look absolutely stunning. He just may not be able to effectively communicate that at that precise moment (because he’s speechless!). Give the guy some slack at this point. Know that your photographer will catch plenty of emotion on camera later on in the day and when you actually walk down the aisle. There is still something magical about when the bride walks down the aisle, even if her hubby has seen her already.
Moral of the story: It’s your choice to do a first look or not, but it may have an effect on your images. Hopefully I gave you some insight. Consult your photographer if you aren’t sure whether a first look will benefit your photographs and I’m sure they’d be happy to work out a game plan either way!