THE 1ST LOOK
I grew up hearing the same thing (and as a wedding photographer in Dallas, I here it a lot): that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.
Tradition is important, and I certainly can understand that — we all have observations in our lives that are near and dear to our hearts, and for some, this one is a biggie. I will say, however, that the majority of couples I photograph have cast this one into the dustbin of history, and actually, are quite excited about seeing each other beforehand. It can be an emotional, intimate experience that lives on among the most important memories from the big day. Personally, I strongly recommend it.
Seeing each other before the ceremony serves one basic function: you get to bask in a special moment that’s all yours, prior to being swamped with congratulatory hugs from your friends and family, after the ceremony.
This also gives me time to get some just-you images out of the way, early, and while you’re both fresh out of hair and makeup. The pictures end up looking better. And logistically, there’s a bonus: after the ceremony, we take care of the family portraits, and instead of spending your time with me on the bridal portraits, you can bop off to the reception and actually start enjoying yourselves. (I’m a charming fella, but I know better than anybody that you’ve got better things to do!)
Here’s one more observation to share: in my experience, schedules have a greater likelihood of slipping the longer the day goes on. The ceremony can run late (or start late); some people can have trouble getting to the reception site; florists and caterers can get a little backed up; you get the idea. Having what are arguably the most important shots of the day squared away as early as possible just removes one more (very important) element from consideration as early as possible. Think of it as a built-in way to open up the schedule and keeps things as fluid as possible for when the inevitable hiccups arise.
If you decide to incorporate a “first look” component into your day (which, again, I can’t recommend enough), let me know. If you’d like, I’ll be happy to take the reigns, and arrange a truly special meeting for the both of you — something that maximizes the impact of the moment, and in a setting that will provide from some legendary pictures.
I guarantee two things out of a first look: if you decide to go this route, you won’t regret it. In fact, most couples tell me that it was the best decision they made, and that it really cut down on the nerves they would have felt otherwise — it really does take the edge off.
And second? From my experience, it does nothing to dull the impact of watching the bride walk down the aisle. No amount of together time before the ceremony can dull the emotion of that moment — it’s a doozy.