"To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with."
The first look.
One of the most controversial topics in the wedding world, and for good reason. On one hand you have the traditional superstition of "bad luck" which is sure to follow any groom who sees the bride before the ceremony, and we can add to this the added suspense and glory of the bride being seen for the first time by her groom at the altar. But of course if you are really going to be true to that tradition, you should come down the aisle veiled in order to keep the groom from having second thoughts, as he is occupied with the thought of seeing his bride for the first time. And then he would want to make sure that he is marrying the right girl under all that tulle, right?
On the other hand, in the really old days it was common for the bride and groom to walk to the chapel together. And that is still maintained in many European cultures! The bride and groom see each other early on in the day and go together to the church, and subsequently, the altar.
It's no secret I love the concept of a first look. But I haven't always.
Before I got married I had it fixed in my head that this would ruin the bride's entrance. And I wasn't about to ruin that moment for my groom! So did I end up doing a first look? YES! Why? As a wedding photographer I had seen many weddings, and every single one that included a first look had a completely different atmosphere. Whereas weddings without were often tense and stressed, weddings including this intimate moment were infinitely more relaxed. But what about the groom and his moment? Actually it was my groom, Elvis, who wanted to do it! And I would like to say it was all because he wanted to be romantic, which he did, but really that was what was normal for him anyway, coming from Eastern Europe. Do I regret it? No way! Here are the top 3 reasons I loved having a first look.
1. Most people's top argument for postponing the first look is that it pressures the groom to have a "reaction." Well it can if it is done the wrong way, but really, it is MUCH less pressure than the pressure of them to have a reaction in front of an entire audience of family, friends, and strangers. Any reaction they might have on the pedestal of the altar is much more easily suppressed than the reaction they might have in the intimacy of a first look--with an audience of 1-2 people most of the time.
2. Separating the "seeing each other" for the first time from the pressure of the actual ceremony allowed me to have my nerves split into two groups--one for seeing Elvis and one for taking literal steps to become one in covenant marriage! And we were tucked back away separately well before the wedding began, so I was even more excited to see him again!
3. Intimacy. Having a first look allowed us time to share a moment that I will forever cherish. And I can honestly compare that one to walking down the aisle and say with the latter I was much more worried about not tripping on my face. And I couldn't see his reaction that well from the back of the aisle anyway. We hugged, danced, and prayed God's blessing on the day. And after that moment I had no more anxiety about the day. I had the perspective and peace that having Elvis at my side inevitably brings.
Fast forward 4 years and this past week I captured the wedding of two dear friends. The day began with clouds, fog, mist, and then rain. I was worried. I knew they wanted to do a first look and outdoor portraits, so I was SUPER thankful that the clouds held during the time allotted. And by the way it is a good thing they were doing a first look because as the ceremony began the clouds let loose and it rained hard on into the reception! Danny and Ariel's first look was so precious, and probably my favorite EVER. Danny cried, which made me cry. And generally, I am way too busy in that moment to do anything but think about capturing the moment. Danny afterwards said, "Ok, we can get married, everything is alright now."
He was right.
Everything was more than alright... it was perfect.
With all that said, you should see for yourself.
Ariel approaching, he hasn't seen her yet, as we had him around a bend in the tree line.