One of the most important questions wedding photographers must ask of the bride and groom is whether there will be a first look. The first look is a relatively new concept in which the bride and groom set aside a time before the ceremony where they see each other for the first time in all their wedding finery. It is a very special moment. Sometimes emotional. It is increasingly being done in today’s weddings.
But sometimes it’s not done. The last few weddings I have photographed have not included a first look. The bride and groom wanted to do that traditional “not see each other before the wedding” scenario. There is something to be said for that. It’s the way I did my wedding. It can, however, make it more difficult for the photographer.
First of all, photographers will miss out on the special photos that can be taken during a first look. Generally the way a first look takes place is the groom stands in a predetermined location with his his back to the bride. The bride then walks up from behind and taps him on the shoulder. He turns around and they see each other in private (aside from the photographer and videographer). It is a very special moment.
The last three weddings I have photographed, however, have not included a first look. The first time the groom sees his bride that day is when she walks down the aisle. This has long been the tradition.
Why the change to the first look? I think it’s mainly out of practicality. The photographer is tasked to take a ton of pictures of the bride and groom, wedding party and family members. Without the first look, these photos have to be taken after the wedding. And often that means there is less time. Before the wedding the bride and groom can schedule as much time as requested to take these pictures. Then after the wedding they can go off and ride their bus around town, visit bars as some do, and stop at a park for more photos. Without the first look, wedding guests can be kept waiting longer at the reception for the wedding party to arrive.
My experience with taking photos after the wedding has been mixed. The first one I felt really rushed for time and I don’t feel I got all the photos of the bride and groom that I wanted to get. The second two weddings went a little smoother, and while we were still pressed for time it seems like we had enough time to get the photos taken.
I anticipate the first look will continue to be the trend and more and more brides and grooms will be moving that way. Tradition is nice, but sometimes the practicality of the first look takes precedence over tradition.