We have all seen the videos. You know the ones: the video from the perfect wedding day, where the wedding party is already behind the altar and those adorably precocious flower girls have just dropped the last rose petal with perfect attitude. Dramatically, the music stops. It stops just long enough for the officiant to ask everyone to stand. The song begins and the entire crowd draws what seems to be a single anticipatory breath as the bride appears to take her first step down the aisle. But wait! The camera only spends a second on the bride, because it immediately zooms in to that magical moment where the waiting partner has their mouth open and a single teardrop rolls down their face and passionately falls to the ground. That is the moment: that moment of surprise that everyone prays will bring that exact same response on their wedding day.
I don’t always have a reason to credit my incredible team, but in this instance, I want to make sure that I do again. This post about why you should have a first look at your wedding day comes from personal experience thanks to the amazing work of my wonderful copywriter Tashara, who not only graciously hired me to photograph her wedding, but was willing to share her experience with all my people. Tashara did NOT want to hold a first look on her wedding day and I convinced her otherwise. She and her husband Alvan were able to take a moment to be together, pray and center themselves for the afternoon ahead and were incredibly thankful I pushed them in that direction. I am grateful for her business, kind words, and most of all for her indelible personality and energy.
And…it is that expectation, that will single-handedly destroy your wedding day timeline, causing unnecessary stress for the couple and for the family involved. This is definitely not an attempt to kill your dream of that first look you get as you walk down the aisle. This is just an exploration of why you should absolutely consider keeping that first look between you and your partner and taking a moment to revel in this amazingly special day together before the ceremony and the chaos begins.
Reason 1: The Wedding Day Timeline
Wedding day timelines are tight. You are trying to fit in about 30 different traditions in 4-6 hours and still make sure you have at least a little bit of time to dance (though Lauren would prefer a rager of a dance party), have a drink with your favorite family and friends, and enjoy yourself. I can tell you from personal experience, that one of the biggest timeline busters on a wedding day is the wedding party and family photography. Think about all the different personalities in your wedding party? Your partner’s besties are the same folks who regularly forget the rules of beer pong and cannot keep a straight face to save their lives. Your bff is routinely under-estimating the amount of time it takes her to do ANYTHING much less get her face wedding ready. You may be able to account for yourself, but things do sometimes run amok.
Not to mention, both sides of ALL members of both families will
need want photos. Your Uncle Bruce, yea, the one who lives alone, and has the attention span of a goldfish? He has to be in the photos too. Good luck chasing him down and keeping him focused once he gets around a large group of people he can finally talk to. It’s literally like herding cats. All the while eating into your reception/dance/party time. Do yourself a favor and start this early by going for the first look with your partner ahead of the ceremony. This allows you to take all the time in the world to get wedding party photos done (also allowing those friends to go straight to party time as soon as the ceremony is over) so that those are crossed off the list and instead of missing an hour and a half of your reception, you only miss the 30 minutes it takes to do family formals. Signature cocktail anyone? Actually, you maybe using that extra time you save to chase down your Uncle Buck for the family photos after the ceremony.
Reason 2: Get Your Portraits Taken While You Are Still Looking Fresh
Let me tell you, after 2-3 hours of getting dressed, chasing down lost bouquets, and figuring out where the best man is, before you even walk down the aisle, even the best freshly painted on makeup will have worn itself down at least a little bit. Not to mention the fact that if you, like many
people *ahem* me, have decided to have an outdoor ceremony any time after April in the state of Texas, your walk down the aisle will likely be in the late afternoon sun. Combined with the stress of making sure your heel doesn’t get caught in a sidewalk crack, whispering under your breath for your mother to stop holding onto your arm so damn tightly, and stressing that the infant ring bearer isn’t going to divulge into the rock garden creek on the way down the aisle, sweat might end up fighting its way through that perfectly airbrushed foundation. And that’s before the ceremony has really even started!
In your ideal dream wedding, your makeup and dress stay perfect through it all, right? Not so much in reality. Your makeup may start to look a little faded, your dress will get creases, and those perfect shoes may have picked up a little bit of mud. And while that doesn’t matter, because what you want is to have incredibly memorable experiences that shape the story of your wedding for years to come, a really polished portrait is always nice to have. So hedge your bets and capture yourself at the peak of perfection by getting those photos done before the ceremony.
Reason 3: Enjoy This One Special Moment Between You and Your Partner Before The Busy Day Begins.
This is probably THE most important reason you should go ahead and get those “first look” photos before the ceremony. Your wedding day is crazy. There will be A LOT going on for the entire day. People will be pulling you in a million different directions constantly. The wedding coordinator, your wedding party, your out of town family members, the officiant, and others, will all need you for something, even when you think you have it all handled. There are very few opportunities to take it all in with your future spouse. The day is a literal blur.
An early “first look” gives you one of those opportunities. Even though your partner’s entire attention may be on you when you first walk down that aisle, the ceremony itself will limit the time for you to enjoy their reaction, for you to respond, or for you two to have an intimate few moments to take it in. This is where the early “first look” wins. You get the same response from your partner when they first see you, but without all the wedding guests joining in. You get a chance to take it in, react, respond, and revel in just each other. It gives you a few moments to laugh and hug and share in the joy of the day, and maybe even ease each other’s nerves. Just the two of you. Not only that, but your photographer, who is unobtrusively hiding in the bushes (if she’s Lauren, I can’t make promises for other photographers), gets the time and space to capture it all, without any over-zealous wedding guests blocking the view. You likely will not get another moment like this for the rest of the day. Take it, connect with each other in your own space at your own time, and I promise you will enjoy the pictures captured and relish in that memory for years to come.
Have we convinced you why you too need to have a first look on your wedding day? If you’re planning your big day and are looking for additional planning tips, make sure to read Tashara’s post about how to keep your wedding real and really yours here, how to craft the perfect raging dancefloor here, or how to build the perfect wedding party starting line-up here. Tashara Mitchell is a badass babe and freelance copywriter from Austin, TX. She specializes in education, entrepreneurship and small businesses.
Lauren Lindley is a wedding and elopement photographer based in Lake Tahoe, CA that also services the local areas of Austin, TX and New Orleans, LA and the surrounding areas. Also available to provide services for weddings across the U.S. and worldwide. Specializes in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce photojournalism based wedding photography with classic, clean and vibrant images. Lauren Lindley is currently booking weddings for 2020 and 2021 in Lake Tahoe, Austin, New Orleans, and other destinations worldwide.