Firsts are pretty important, right? First steps, first crush, first kiss, first fight, first baby - all those beginnings in our lives.
I still remember the first time I talked with Ben. It wasn't my first time running into him, but it was our first actual conversation.
Background: Veronica, his older sister, and I were good friends. We were chatting on Instant Messenger (that's right, you guys, I'm old, like really old). I was telling her about a New Year's Day beach gathering I'd planned. We went on with all the girl chatter surrounding it. Including how I felt wearing a swimsuit right after the holidays and in the middle of winter, with no tan. Girl stuff.
It was my first day of classes at college. I only knew a handful of people in the entire school. When Ben walked by me, we both paused for a brief, hey-I-kind-of-know-you kind of moment. We stood in the main lobby area of the second floor, just outside a classroom.
You guys, the first thing he asks me, "How did that swimsuit work out or you?" That's right. I was mortified and laughing all at the same time. First, that he knew about that conversation, and second, that he'd actually use that as a segue from initial greetings.
That's Ben, refreshingly honest in his humor. We became fast friends.
While it would be a year later before any other "firsts", that moment lives in my memory in it's full embarrassing glory.
Hopefully, your wedding day "firsts" will be less comical and far more elegant.
Seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day is a monumental "first". There are two ways you can experience this moment. The traditional way is at the aisle of the ceremony. In more recent years, many couples opt for a "first look".
A first look is when a bride and groom choose to see each other for the first time in the privacy of a certain location.
Do I recommend a first look? Yes, most photographers do for good reason. The sweet emotions, the time it frees up for later, and they are just everything beautiful.
But, what really matters is you. Is a first look right for you?
- You can sneak away together for a break during cocktail hour.
- You can focus on enjoying your wedding day with your guests.
- It can calm nerves, you enter the ceremony as a team.
- It dramatically helps the timeline and keeps things less squished together.
- You will not see each other for the first time at the aisle of the ceremony.
- Lighting is harsh in the middle of the day, if there is no shade at your location, this could limit your flexibility with portrait backgrounds.
Tips for a First Look
Take time to discuss with each other your wedding day hopes. Is it time with friends and guests? Is it that moment he sees you for the first time in the aisle? Are you nervous about a grand entrance?
Be respectful of each other’s wishes and find some middle ground.
Whatever your decision is, take time to communicate that with your parents and bridal party. Many parents have never heard of a "First look". Remember to stop and explain the heart behind any non-traditional choices.
Collaborate with your photographer on the location of the first look. We know the ideal lighting and backdrop to make your images shine. If there’s a place that you are in love with, let us know and we can do our best to make it work.
When I am choosing a location for any portraits, lighting is priority, then backdrop setting. Because of this, we typically choose a first look location on the day of the wedding. I always arrive early to do some scouting in addition to the online research I did prior to arrival.
In capturing a first look, I shoot a panoramic view of the bride coming towards the groom and then close-ups of reactions and hugs. Ideally, your backdrop is as lovely as the lighting.
How private do you wish this moment to be? Aside from the photographer, who else are you okay with being present? Most couples prefer it being just the two of them. Sometimes, a maid of honor stays to help with the gown, sometimes the couple allows the bridal party and parents to see. It is completely up to each couple.
I do recommend having everyone stand far back if you are inviting them to watch. This way you can still whisper and talk in the privacy of your space.
The photographer will place the groom with his back towards the bride’s point of entry. He is instructed to stay there and not turn until the bride arrives.
The bride walks towards the groom, she can say his name or tap his shoulder signaling him to turn around.
Of course, you can always change it up and do it your own creative way. The important thing creating a special moment as you see each other for the first time on the wedding day.
Once you’ve taken each other’s breath away, emotions of laughter, happiness, crying, sweet hugs, and general romance ensue.
Take a moment to whisper, laugh, share a private joke. The rest of your day will whirl by, this is the time to breathe in the sweetness of the moment.
Don’t feel the pressure to have a huge reaction like tears or dramatic face cupping. If that’s who you are, then amazing, go for it. Just to be in the moment and true to your personality in the relationship.
The best part about marriage? All the new "firsts" to come. Until then, get back to practicing that "first kiss" as husband and wife. Totally counts as wedding prep.