Want to have a deeper impact on your wedding day? You’ve probably heard people talking about “first looks” among things that happen on wedding days. Let’s take a deep dive into what a first look is and how it will fit into your wedding day.
Traditionally, a first look is a time set aside for you and your partner to see each other fully dressed in your wedding attire. A special moment to take in the beauty of your soon-to-be spouse before the whirlwind of events unfolds. Couples who choose a first look prior to the ceremony tend to schedule wedding party portraits and family formals prior to the ceremony as well.
Alternatively, some couples choose to wait until they walk down the aisle to see each other for the first time. This build up of anticipation can lead to some incredibly beautiful and emotional responses from both the couple and their close loved ones. When couples choose this route, they tend to plan their formal portraits for after the ceremony and before the reception. Typically these portraits happen during “cocktail” or happy hour.
If we’re being completely honest, however, many unplanned first looks happen throughout your wedding day. The first time you see yourself fully dressed, makeup and hair and all. The first time your wedding party sees you. The first time your parent(s), grandparents, friends, guests see you on your wedding day: these are all first looks in their own right. And you can choose to plan for some or none of them.
The first decision you’ll want to make is when you and your partner want to see each other: before the ceremony or down the aisle.
If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, your next decision is: do we want a private first look or can some of our loved ones be present?
After that, you will want to determine who else you’d like to set aside intentional time for a first look. One really sweet moment I witnessed was between a bride and her grandmas. They felt so special being included and sharing a moment together before watching their beloved granddaughter get married.
A final thing to consider when planning your first look is location. As much as the first look is about the person you’re sharing it with, being intentional about your location choice can add another layer of meaning and celebration to your wedding day. If you’re getting dressed in your childhood home, you may consider doing a first look with your parent or grandparent here. If the park where your partner proposed to you is nearby, you may like to share your first look with them at that same place.
Sometimes, logistics simply don’t allow for the sentimental locations. And that’s okay. We can use your ceremony or reception location for first looks to give these new locations added memories and meaning. It’s also okay to choose a location because it is beautiful and brings you joy.
Who you choose to set aside intentional time with is entirely up to you. You know your relationships best. To get you started, here is a list of common first look options:
You and your partner
You and your parent(s)
You and your grandparent(s)
You and your wedding party/friends
You and your chosen family
The wedding industry tends to center folks who consider themselves a bride. However, first looks aren’t just for brides. Both you and your partner can choose to set aside time for intentional time for first looks with special people in your life.