You’re hearing about first looks everywhere you go – on Instagram, TikTok, from all of your vendors and married friends. What even is a first look? How do you know if it’s right for you?
Photos: Heidi Elyse Photography
A first look is where the couple will see each other before walking down the aisle. Typically this is a private moment, with just photo and video capturing from a short distance. Many couples use this time to ease their nerves, take the pressure off of an end-of-the-aisle reaction, and to spend a bit more quality time together on wedding day.
Photos: Diana Ascarrunz
One of the best reasons to have a first look is that you’ll have more time with your boo. Without a first look, you typically won’t be with your spouse until after the ceremony, which can be anywhere from early to late afternoon. That only leaves a few hours together before your wedding day will be over!
First looks are also great for the couple who wants to take the majority of their photos before the ceremony. You’ll be able to do wedding party pictures, couples portraits, and can even invite your family to the venue early, too. This will maximize your time at cocktail hour with all your other guests.
Photos: Rebekah Paul
A first look can also help take some pressure off. Many grooms feel the pressure of having a “perfect” reaction to seeing their spouse at the altar. If you don’t like showing emotion in front of others or don’t want that spotlight moment – a first look can help relieve that stress.
If the sun sets early on your wedding day, a first look allows more time for photos before the ceremony. Once the sun goes down, there won’t be ample lighting for photos.
Some people feel more of a spotlight at the end of the aisle. Others feel more pressure being one on one with the photographers, who are dialed in on your reaction. Some couples aren’t very outspoken, and may feel awkward after the initial “you look beautiful!”.
They add more time to your pre-ceremony photo list. If you’re on a tight morning schedule, you might struggle to find an extra 15-20 minutes for a first look. This might mean you need to book additional time with the venue, an extra hair and makeup artist, or move other photos to cocktail hour.
Photo: Bonnie Burke
Another reason to skip the first look is if you have been dreaming of that “seeing each other at the end of the aisle moment.” As many pros as there are to first looks, the most important thing is what matters most to you as a couple. If either of you has been imagining that traditional aisle moment for your entire lives, let yourselves have it! With a great coordinator and photographer team, you’ll still be able to get all the photos you could ever hope for without a first look.
Don’t want to do a first look, but do want a private moment before the ceremony begins? There are a few different things you and your spouse can do!
One option is the “first touch.” You two will stand back to back, around a corner or a door way, and hold hands with each other. This can be great for couples who want to be with each other to help ease nerves but still want the “wow” moment at the altar. You’ll be able to chat, feel each other’s presence and have a bit of time together. This can lead to some super cute photos too!
Photo: Maria Rogers
With your first touch, you can also add a few other special moments. Shy or private couples may want to exchange private vows during their first touch (or first look!). This is a great option if you hate public speaking, feel uncomfortable expressing emotion in front of a crowd, or want to keep your ceremony service short.
If you want to save your vows for the ceremony, another alternative can be exchanging private letters. This is a great option if you’re bad at thinking on the spot. Maybe you want to share sweet thoughts, but are afraid you won’t be able to find the right words in the moment. Take some time before wedding day to write down your thoughts. Then, read them to each other during your first touch, or first look.
Last but not least, a gift exchange is another alternative to a first look. Traditionally, you and your boo will open the gifts separately. Usually your Maid of Honor, Best Man, or coordinator will transport the gift to the other person. Then, you can open privately. This can be a sweet way of showing your love for each other without having to use words.
Photos: Sarah Tribett
Additionally, you can combine any of the above options! Maybe you want to do a first look and private vows, or a first touch and gift exchange. Whatever combination feels right for you, just be sure to discuss with your planner and photographer to make sure plenty of time is set aside.
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Bianca Nichole and Co is a team of wedding planners in Austin, and will travel to San Antonio, Fredericksburg and the surrounding Texas Hill Country area.