Who doesn’t love the look on the groom’s face when he first see’s his bride? Every week, we plan to throw out a topic and gather your questions. Aislinn, owner of Aislinn Kate Photography, has documented hundreds of weddings over the last decade and will offer her insights. So, if you are a bride, in the wedding industry, or just curious, check back each week for the answers in the our new Q & A Series!
Are they awkward, I feel like they are hyped for nothing?
“They are adorable. I think sometimes the idea of a First Look sounds awkward because you imagine being the center of attention. But the reality is that when we set up the moment, we try to make it as private as possible. Usually, this means that the couple is in a secluded and private (but still really photogenic!) spot. The only other people around are the photographers, but we use our longest lenses so that we can stay as far back from you as possible. Honestly, I can’t even hear what you guys say to one another, as I’m usually hiding behind a tree snapping photos furiously while wiping away tears. I tell my clients to take as long as they want together, and then give me a thumbs up that they’re ready for me to take charge again and lead them to the next item on the schedule, whether that’s formal photos or champagne in the parlor.”
Do you recommend a first look as a wedding photographer?
“Before I answer this, full disclosure – I did not do a first look when I married Drew. I was really focused on having the traditional moment of the church doors opening, everyone gasping (ha!), and all that. However, looking back, I wish that I had, and here’s why: I didn’t realize the photos I was sacrificing. Like so many of my clients, my wedding took place in the evening; by the time we were married and had taken a handful of immediate family portraits, it was fully dark. So, while I adore my wedding photos, I don’t really have any gorgeous portraits of me and my husband – and really, I regret not having those.
As a photographer, I have to say that first and foremost, I never want to pressure my clients into making a choice that isn’t one with which they’re comfortable. However, a First Look can solve a multitude of scheduling issues, especially in situations where the ceremony is in the evening and the sun has already set by the time you say your vows. A First Look allows us to take some (or all!) of the photos before the ceremony, which takes advantage of the pretty sunlight. They can also be super-helpful for couples who want to attend their cocktail hour, or who are worried about their guests waiting around and getting bored while they are off taking photos.”
How does doing a first look affect my wedding timeline?
“As little or as much as you want! Sometimes, we do a First Look and ALL of the photos prior to the ceremony (that includes wedding party, formal family shots, and creative bride and groom photos). Other times, we do a First Look simply so the couple has the opportunity to see each other privately and share a few minutes alone (but we still do all of the photos after the ceremony). Most often, it’s some combination of the two. The great thing about a First Look is that is gives you options.”
Can I do my first look with someone other than my future husband? Ex. Grandpa or Dad?
“Absolutely! This is a kind of a new trend, but one that I’ve loved watching develop over the last few years. More than half the time, we schedule a First Look between the bride and her dad. This usually takes place immediately after she gowns, often in the hotel suite where she is preparing. Teary dads are my favorite (and I think more brides cry during this than when they see their groom!). First looks with bridesmaids can be really fun too!”
Will doing a first look make my groom less expressive when I walk down the aisle?
“NOPE. In fact, the very best groom reactions I have seen happen during a First Look, NOT during a ceremony. It makes sense when you think about it – during the ceremony, your groom is looking at you, but he is also seeing his mom, dad, grandma, YOUR family, the flower girls who just ran down the aisle and tripped, and 100 of your closest friends and family, all watching HIS REACTION. A First Look is private, and he is free both to focus on you (and you alone!), and to express his emotions honestly and privately.”
I want to do a 1st look but am worried it will take away from the ceremony being special.
“Not in my experience! I really understand the reasons why couples don’t choose to First Looks, and I think the first reason is always that they want the impact and the butterflies that come with the moment of the ceremony approaching. I know that’s why I didn’t even consider one when I was a bride (granted, I wasn’t a wedding photographer at the time or I think I would have chosen differently!). In practice what happens is this: after the First Look (and any subsequent photos), the bride and groom are always separated again in the hour leading up to the ceremony, for logistical reasons. Trust me – the butterflies come back! Maybe they aren’t solely about seeing your groom, but the nerves are there because you are about to be the center of attention, to see all of your friends and family, to show everyone the gown you’ve been drooling over for a year, to actually GET MARRIED! I feel completely confident saying that a First Look will not make your ceremony feel any less special. In fact, not only will your ceremony still be important, but you will also have another, incredibly special memory of the moment you saw each other during your First Look.”