my philosophy

First Look on Your Wedding Day

A wedding photographers opinion on a first look

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve been a little personal on our blog and I, Jessica Van, thought I’d chime in with one of the most frequent questions we get as wedding photographers: ‘What do you think about a first look?’

This trend, although it may be newer, is catching on like wild fire, and for very good reason. But in the same token, there are still those couple’s that want to hold onto that ‘down the aisle’ tradition of seeing each other for the first time. As a newlywed myself, I wanted to hop on here and share my story about what David and I chose to do for our wedding and why we made that decision!

But I want those butterflies!

This may surprise you, but from the beginning of my wedding planning, I didn’t want to do a ‘first look’. Up until my wedding day, I had been shooting weddings for over five years and had seen countless first looks and how amazing they all were, but I still wanted that ‘Down the Aisle’ feeling of the butterflies and seeing my groom a sobbing mess at the other end. And even after seeing time and time again with my couple’s and how great their day was with a first look, I still wanted to hold on to that idea of ‘Coming down the Aisle’.

As we were getting closer to the date and we were going through the timeline, I really wanted to have the best light for our portraits (duh) so I was doing everything I could in our timeline to make that happen. I tried every different way I could make it happen, talked to other photographer friends, tried cutting things out and adding them in different orders….nothing was working and it was making me feel like our day was going to be hectic and cramped and that was the LAST thing I wanted. Pretty soon I was talking myself out of the craziness and just realizing that there was no way to get the timeline that I was hoping for and I was just going to have to do the portraits when they seemed to fit and be okay with it…. because I wanted to stick to my guns and not do a first look (which would have alleviated a lot of the stress).


How do you want to feel?

The day comes and I send the timeline to our photographer and he instantly calls me and says are you absolutely SURE you do not want to do a first look. I told him no, that it really just wasn’t what Dave and I envisioned for our day. So he asked if I could put him on speaker phone to talk to us both about it and if we decided that we still didn’t want to do it after this phone call that he would leave it alone. What he went on to tell us completely changed our vision and how we wanted to FEEL on our wedding day. He started off by telling us the obvious things like we would have more time together on the wedding day, and that we would have more time for portraits of the two of us, but then he went on to really bring us into the day and how things would unfold. He told us that with a traditional ceremony where the bride and groom are seeing each other for the first time, there is so much anticipation and excitement leading up to that moment. That you get down to the end of the aisle and you see all of your guests looking at you and all you can do is lock eyes with each other. You walk down the aisle and you are so excited to be near each other…..this is your WEDDING Day!! So you get to the end and you want to hug and kiss and tell each other how amazing you look and how much you love each other, but what really happens is you have to stand up there for the next 20-30 minutes just holding hands. With a first look you can do ALL those things! You can run to each other, you can embrace each other, twirl each other around – whatever you want to do, because it’s just the two of you!


Can you imagine, just the two of you!

When he told us this both Dave and I lit up like Christmas trees thinking about seeing each other before anyone else was around, being able to embrace each other, cry tears of joy together and really be in that moment with each other before the craziness of the day starts. It really is your quiet moment for the two of you to connect and that’s all we wanted for our day, was to be connected. This completely sold us and we transformed the timeline to be everything we wanted it to be… including a first look.

On the day I can tell you with all honesty that that ‘feeling’ that I wanted walking down the aisle was exactly as I imagined it, even with having done our first look! Dave and I still had our time alone in the beginning of the day, we were relaxed and ready to spend the rest of the day with our loved ones, and Dave was still a sobbing mess when I came down the aisle ;)

I wanted to write this post just as a personal experience, and it is no way saying that a First Look is 100% the way to go. Make your wedding day EXACTLY as you imagine it. Make your plans with how you want to FEEL on that day and not about what everyone else thinks. After all, it is YOUR day!


comments +