One of the questions we work through with our couples is that of the "first look". Sometimes they aren't sure what that is, or why it would be helpful. So I wanted to put together a brief description of it and talk about why it can be an incredible addition to their schedule.
So what exactly is the first look? The first look is a scheduled moment between the bride and groom before the ceremony, and after they are both ready, where they get to see each other. Traditionally the "first look" has been when the bride is walking down the aisle, and there are many couples who still prefer to do this, and that's totally okay! We want you to be excited about your first look regardless of where it happens in the schedule.
One of the benefits to doing a first look is the ability to calm your nerves prior to the ceremony. When you walk down the aisle and see your guests all standing and staring at you, your groom watching you (maybe with a tear or two in his eye), your close family crying from joy in the seats, the emotional intensity of that moment can actually create stress. Doing a first look allows you to work through those nerves with your favorite person in the world.
A big reason we recommend doing one is it allows the scheduling to move a little smoother. If the bride and groom do a first look, we can schedule the family photographs before the wedding. Younger children who might be involved with those will have more focus, people aren't (generally) as likely to get distracted, and it allows the portraits after the ceremony to be entirely focused on the two of you (I talk about the importance of that HERE). We can also potentially get some portraits ahead of the ceremony, which means that makeup is less likely to be smeared, hair is less likely to be falling out, and it's less likely that one or both of you will be sweating (either from the nerves or from the heat of the venue).
We did a first look for our wedding. While we would never ask anyone to do a first look unless they absolutely wanted to, I can tell you that it was one of the best decisions we made. Not just for the above reasons, but because we were able to talk and laugh and just be for a moment, in full expectation of the celebration we were about to get underway. We were atypical in that we did not have our first look photographed, which is absolutely something you could consider as well. Keeping the moment completely private is always an option, and one that we make sure to talk discuss with our brides who are interested in a first look.
This is really related to the above point, but I think it's important. A first look lets you breathe. Especially for the brides who are often running around from place to place getting hair and makeup done, then getting ready, then sometimes still having to make it to the venue, it can be downright exhausting. By the time you get to the venue you're already beat. The first look lets you just take a moment through the craziness of the day and not have to worry about answering questions, getting somewhere by a certain time; rather you are just able to sit, stand, and be. Very few things help calm stress and nerves like a first look.