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Should You Do a First Look? My Experience with Choosing to do a First Look (& What I Would Change)

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Should You Do a First Look or Make Your Fiancé Wait to See You When You Walk Down the Aisle?

If you've been contemplating this and going crazy because you can't decide, maybe my experience will help you make a decision.

There are a ton of decisions to make when planning your wedding. However THIS one tiny decision was one of the hardest decisions I felt I had to make. I had such a big beautiful wedding, and I wanted everything to be perfect.

I wanted to be traditional and my groom not see me until I walked down the aisle. I wanted him to burst into tears when he saw me! However, I felt it was inconvenient in many ways since I was having such a large wedding, so I would start to lean towards doing a first look. Then, I worried if I did a first look it would ruin tradition and not be as sentimental! This was a non-stop up and down battle I just couldn't seem to pin down.

First I Looked at the Pros of Doing a First Look

  1. This would give us more time to get more photos of ourselves, our families and the wedding party before the wedding even started.

  2. It would help with emotions. I just knew it was going to be so emotional walking down the aisle and it was going to be overwhelming enough, let alone it being the first time I saw the groom for the day. I didn't want to be a bawling basket case as I tried to make my graceful walk down the aisle. Doing a first look would give us time to get our tears out of the way, and shake off some of the nervousness.

  3. It would be an intimate moment between just us, before the wedding.

  4. We wouldn't keep our guests waiting with a cocktail hour while we rushed through photos, we could head straight to the reception!

  5. We would have more time to actually enjoy our wedding.

Then, the Pros of Not Seeing Each Other Until the Alter

  1. Tradition! Such a beautiful and awesome experience to have with your fiancé and all of your guests to witness.

  2. It's so special!

But that was it, I couldn't think of anymore pros of waiting until we got to the alter.

So ultimately, with the size of wedding I was having I decided to do a first look so I could make the day a little more convenient and here's how it went.

5 Things That Happened with My First Look

1. We Captured Amazing Wedding Photos

We got so many amazing photos. Photos of me and the groom, tons of the wedding party, and lots with our family members. We did tons of fun poses, intimate poses... my makeup wasn't ruined from crying and my hair was still just perfect. We had so much time to get photos and did not feel rushed. Usually photos are taken during a "cocktail hour" after the ceremony so may feel rushed.

Plus, I LOVED that my guests weren't waiting for dinner to start while we did photos. While some weddings I've been to cocktail hour is great, but I've been to weddings where the couple were off doing photos for well over that hour and everyone starts getting antsy. I didn't want this to happen, especially since we were having a Sunday wedding and I anticipated people wouldn't stay super late anyway. We were able to go straight to the reception after the ceremony and know that we had a kazillion amazing photos already.

2. I Got My Tears Out

When I saw my groom, he looked shocked. I still feel like he thought I had way too much makeup on (and I totally felt I did - tip: find a great makeup artist and do a trial!). Anyway, he didn't have the reaction I was hoping for. There were no tears from him! This immediately made me emotional because I was hoping to make him cry! (I sound completely ridiculous but nearly every wedding I've been to, the groom cries and my heart melts!) This was something I completely expected to happen so when he didn't cry, I started to cry! The good news is that crying got my tears out before I walked down the aisle. When I walked down the aisle, I didn't blubber or bawl while walking down the aisle... I SMILED! But guess what? MY GROOM CRIED AS I WALKED DOWN THE AISLE!

3. My Nerves Were Completely Calmed

Just seeing him and being around all of my family and friends, getting photos and laughing... making memories... it was all awesome and I no longer felt so scared to walk down the aisle in front of all those people!

4. Our First Look Was Not Private Like I Wanted

I told everyone, and I mean everyone... when I do this first look I just want it to be my groom, myself and our photographer. I think this is a big reason I started crying too because none of it was going how I pictured. (I wanted the groom to cry, I wanted to be alone together, etc.) but as soon as he came walking in (blindfolded) here came EVERYONE pouring in after him to see his reaction when he removed the blindfold. His family, the wedding party... all standing behind him as he looked at me. I felt overwhelmed and a bit frustrated, but I didn't let it show. So, we did not have the intimate moment alone before the wedding that I wanted. I have to say, it wasn't really the end of the world but I wish we would've just had that 5 minutes ALONE before everyone came barging in. Just 5 minutes!!

5. We Had More Time with Our Guests

I couldn't believe how fast the wedding flew by. The reception was 5 hours but felt like 30 minutes and I'm not exaggerating. We skipped cocktail hour because we already had photos done, and it still flew by. Because we skipped cocktail hour and got straight to the reception, we had more time to go around and say hi to each table. People started to leave after the cake anyway, and I'm glad we had the time to say hi to those that didn't stay the entire time.

Would I Do It Differently If I Could Go Back?

YES... and no. If I went back in time and did it all over, if I was still having that big wedding that I had then yes, absolutely keep the first look because there are a lot of pros. You get tears out, nerves calmed, time to get more photos, no rushing through a cocktail hour photo session, the guests don't have to wait on you to do photos, you get more time with guests, you get to head straight to the reception, you still look your best for photos, the list goes on!

HOWEVER, if I were to have a smaller more intimate wedding with just my closest family and friends, then I absolutely would wait to see my groom at the alter. With a smaller more intimate wedding, I feel like a lot of those pros of the first look aren't as needed.

Did you do a first look? How did it turn out and what would you recommend to other brides contemplating this decision?

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Disclaimer I am not a professional of any kind and this post is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This post reflects my personal experiences and is not to be taken as any kind of professional or personal advice. We are not responsible in anyway for any purchases you make or experiences you have with products or companies.