Maria and I love traditions, but there are a few customs we are willing overlook or reinvent for our wedding. Maria already shared her thoughts on the bouquet and garter toss at our wedding. There is one more wedding tradition that we plan to forgo when we get married: seeing the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. We have decided to do a “first look.” For the few of you who haven’t heard about it, a first look is when the bride and groom meet privately and see each other before the ceremony. It’s a more personal and intimate moment than seeing each other for the first time across the length of the church.
There are a few reasons why we are planning to have a first look. First and foremost, we want time to enjoy seeing each other for the first time up close and personal. Our wedding day is certain to be a whirlwind and the first look will possibly be our only chance to slow down, breathe and enjoy some time for just the two of us.
There is also something to be said for the calming effect that a first look will have on our nerves that day. Our wedding day will be filled with anxious moments; it will be a relief to to see each other before the ceremony and break some of the nervous tension. We are not superstitious people and we aren’t concerned about any lingering effects that seeing each other before the wedding will have on our marriage. Instead, we imagine we will feel about as happy and relieved as this groom appears to be!
Of course, Maria is also looking forward to the moment as a bride. I know she is absolutely in love with her dress and has been doing everything in her power to make sure I know as little about the dress as possible because she wants me to be completely surprised the day of our wedding. We often joke about Maria’s less-than-perfect eyesight and I wouldn’t want her to miss a single moment of my reaction to seeing her in the dress because we chose to stick with tradition and first lay eyes on each other from across the church.
And, to be honest, I really want to see my Maria in her gown, with her veil and hair done, before the ceremony. I want to be amazed at how wonderful she looks and to tell her right then and there and not in hushed whispers at the altar.
We are also choosing to do a first look for the photographic advantages of a moment that will only happen once. We want our photographer to capture the moment up close and personal, not with a zoom lens across the church. Maria’s church is quite large; the aisle from the narthex (I just love that word) or lobby area of the church to the altar is 150 feet, or half of a football field. My first view of Maria will be from quite a distance and the pictures will just not do justice to our reactions and expressions. Don’t take my word for it; our photographer, Brian from BTW Photography, summed up his thoughts on the first look on his blog:
There are so many potential problems shooting the First Look as the bride is walking down the aisle – lighting (some churches don’t allow flash), camera angles (the photographer can only get one shot – the bride walking toward him), and Aunt Suzie sticking her point-and-shoot into the aisle to get a shot are all possibilities. Once you get to the altar, all of the photos are of the back of your head and your husband can’t kiss you despite his excitement!
With the First Look, it is just the two of you. No Aunt Suzies, no recited lines or staged processional, just authentic emotion. When your husband-to-be turns around to see you, he doesn’t have to stand there static and quiet, waiting to hear what your dad has to say. He gets to embrace you, tell you how beautiful you look, how much he loves you, and plant kisses on you. Instead of the first look being planned and lasting just a few brief moments in front of everyone, it can be fun, sporadic, natural and last minutes.
There is one other reason why we want to do the first look, but it’s a practical one: the enjoyment of our guests. We are getting married on a Friday and our ceremony is at 4 P.M. After the ceremony, we want our wedding guests to enjoy the celebration with us as quickly as possible. We’ve all had to wait a few hours between a ceremony and reception while the bridal party takes photos and that’s a big, inconvenient time for guests to fill. By doing the first look, we will have some personal time for “just us” and take most of our bridal party photos before the ceremony. Once the ceremony is over, we can pose for a few formal portraits in the church then get straight to the party with our family and friends!
We’d like to sincerely thank our photographer Brian Weitzel from BTW Photography for letting use many of the photos in this blog post and to quote from his blog post on the first look. Brian is a fantastic photographer; you can see much of his work on his website or see our engagement photos in Maria’s post on Kinder Craze. We cannot wait to see how his photos of our wedding turn out!
Update! Since writing this post, we are now married! We had a first look and it was WONDERFUL. We loved having some time together before we said “I do”. Here are a few photos from our own first look! You can read more about our wedding day in this blog post.
What are your thoughts on the first look? Did you have a first look with your spouse or did you stick with tradition and not see each other before the ceremony? We would love to hear about your own experiences.