Weddings and elopements are full of small special moments, some being long traditions, and some completely unplanned and spontaneous.
One tradition that has been staple of tradition for centuries is that of a groom not seeing their bride on the day of the wedding, until the actual ceremony takes place when the bride enters the room.
This tradition is still fairly common and it’s something many couples still believe in and practice. It was considered bad luck for a groom to see his bride before the ceremony, and this sentiment still exists to a degree, though a new wedding and elopement trend is starting to become more prevalent in our photography-rich age of social media.
This new trend, dubbed the “first look,” involves the bride and groom meeting up early on the day of the wedding for a pre-ceremony photoshoot.
The sense of anticipation for both the bride and the groom (and everyone watching) is something that adds a bit of magic to the entire elopement or wedding ceremony, so it’s no wonder it’s still somewhat expected that a groom not see his bride until the actual ceremony. However, there can be no doubt that the rising first look trend is taking hold: many couples believe there are several reasons to have a first look, and it’s not just about beautiful photos.
The Magic of a First Look
It’s undeniable that the concept of first look ceremonies might seem awkward to people who area traditionalists or who just haven’t heard of such a thing before. After all, won’t the couple getting married have their pictures taken dozens of times throughout the actual ceremony anyway?
That would be the case if a first look was all about the photos. The truth is, one of the most magical aspects of the first look is getting some time to be alone before the action of the ceremony. This quiet time that brides and grooms get to share can be both intimate and soothing for the nerves.
For many couples, nerves are the biggest downer and impediment leading up to an elopement or wedding ceremony. Even if there’s nothing to be nervous about and all of the planning has gone right, all of the guests have arrived, all of the honeymoon details have been taken care of, and everything else is lined up, that feeling of unnecessary anticipation and nervousness is not something all couples welcome.
Instead, the option of a first look gives couples a chance to spend time together before the day gets too busy, helping to ease nerves and release some tension.
There’s also the fact that the couple gets to see each other before anyone else – hence the term “first look.” It’s a more private, intimate setting before the families and friends get involved. A lot of couples are starting to prefer this, as it gives them a chance to mingle and spend some personal time together. Privacy is something that’s hard to come by on your wedding day. Once everything is set in motion, you might go the entire day without getting a shred of personal time with your new wife / husband. A first look bucks this trend and allows for some personal time before the ceremony gets underway and privacy goes out the window.
The Perfect Photo Opportunity
First Look’s aren’t just about quality time for the couple, there are practical aspects too. One of the biggest reasons why couples opt to have a first look is for early photographs.
Photography is such a huge part of any elopement or wedding ceremony – but cramming in all of the desired angles and moments can be daunting during the actual ceremony itself. A first look gives couples the chance to stage a special photo shoot specifically to take pressure off the ceremony and create easier, dynamic, and romantic shots.
Much like an engagement photoshoot, a first look offers couples the ability to choose a special location with very specific lighting and backdrops, and because there isn’t so much pressure, it’s often easier for couples to unwind and be natural during the photos.
First look photo sessions have other benefits, including timing. Depending on the time of the year the ceremony is taking place, the lighting may not be ideal after everything is done for post-ceremony photos, especially outdoors. Holding a photo shoot before the ceremony even begins guarantees that you get in plenty of gorgeous photos with adequate lighting.
Another benefit is that a photographer or videographer gets to be more involved and can direct the couple if need be into more romantic poses and settings. Despite playing such an important role in the ceremony, photographers can’t really intervene much when the ceremony is going on, so if there is some last minute lighting problems, bad angles, or camera snafus, there’s really not much they can do.
It’s much different during a first look, where a photographer can tell the bride or groom to stand a certain way, remind them to pose naturally, look in a certain direction, or move closer to a light source. You’re also free from the prying eyes of family and friends, so you can be as goofy or as passionate as you want, without risk of judgment later on!
Planning a First Look
Interested in a first look for your wedding day or elopement? The most important part of planning one is to simply make sure everyone involved is on the same page, that you have easy transportation to the location of the first look, and that it doesn’t put any unnecessary stress on you or your significant other.
The key to pulling off a romantic, fun first look is to treat it like a casual date. Let yourself relax and enjoy the time before the ceremony together, your mood will show up in the photos and they will come out fantastic.
You don’t necessarily have to go far or rent out someplace exotic all for the sake of your first look, either. Often the courtyards and lobby areas of certain hotels make perfect places for small intimate photoshoots. Inquire with the hotel you are staying at for your ceremony if they can recommend a spot.
Local rivers, lakes, and parks also provide the perfect place for a first look, especially since these places are typically less crowded in the mornings than at any other time of the day.
Regardless of where you decide to have your photoshoot, take advantage of the time and have fun. A first look is like taking the moment where the bride first walks in and the groom sees her for the first time in her dress, and capturing it for an hour, away from the world. No wonder this trend is taking off!