On The Line About Doing A First Look? Hear It Firsthand From The Grooms

Education, Wedding

Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

“Are you doing a first-look or waiting to see each other until the ceremony?” is one of the questions we ask our couples in the initial email before our actual meeting. By no means are we asking this as question they can answer wrong, this is simply just another step in getting to better know our couples, how they’re approaching the wedding day, if they are strongly against it, or most commonly than other, don’t completely know and understand the benefits of doing a first look. Do we love first looks? ABSOLUTELY! We’re not trying to convince our brides to do a first look, but once our couples see all the benefits, over 90% do a first look and are SO glad they did!

Let us back up. Sixteen years ago when Laura was getting married, first looks weren’t even heard of. If you were to have asked her to see her husband before the ceremony, she would have thought you were out of your mind! Doing something so un-traditional would have been absurd! Since we were little girls, we’ve always imagined our grooms reaction seeing us walking down the isle in our wedding dress for the very first time, right? Seeing him smile, then hopefully tear up, and mouth silently I love you. A dream come true! We’re not saying that won’t happen, and it totally could, what we’re here to share with you is the experience we’ve had capturing over 75 weddings.

Rachel just got married this past June, and she couldn’t have imagined it any other way.

“When we were deciding whether to do a first look or not – we discussed what it meant to us. For us, we wanted an intimate moment where we could express our feelings to each other in a private setting. Neither of us have ever liked being performers, and to us a first look meant we didn’t have to. Being able to share a moment with my soon-to-be was one of the best parts of the wedding; time slowed down and it was just us, the one time that happened during the wedding.” – Paul

It’s your wedding day, you’re both a bit nervous. You’ve been planing this wedding for a year and the day is finally here! You have friends and family flying in from all over the country, dozens of vendors you’re hoping are all working together to make things seamless, dresses are being steamed, hair and makeup is being done, flowers are being delivered, the ring bearer’s bow tie can’t be found, it’s not as sunny as you had hoped, things are running a little bit behind, and you haven’t had a bite to eat all day. Guess what? That’s totally normal and doesn’t help you relax any.

Now imagine after all that, its ceremony time. You’re coordinator lines you up with all your bridesmaids, fluffs your dress, you link arms with your dad, and next thing you know you have hundreds of eyes looking at you. Without being able to share any words, you’re reciting vows, announced as husband and wife, and whisked away for family portraits before any family leaves.Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

Deep breath, relax, we got you! Now imagine this… We’ve helped you create your ideal wedding day timeline. We know where to add buffers of time so you’re morning isn’t running behind and you’ve been able to enjoy a morning with the ladies in your life that mean the most. You’ve popped champagne and you’re in your dress looking and feeling the most beautiful you’ve felt in your entire life, yet still a bit anxious to see your groom. Guess what, guys are different than us girls. It’s not until he’s dressed and boutineer pinned, do nerves really kick in. He may get quiet, constantly be adjusting his bow tie and cuff-links, possibly even need a drink (or two) with the groomsmen. He’s ready to get the show on the road!

As photographers we have already chosen a first look location. One of us is with the groom getting him into place and explaining exactly what is about to happen. One of us is with bride, never leaving her side, reaffirming her what we’ve just told the groom. You two are in place, we step back a far enough distance you feel you two are alone, and let you go. The bride walks towards her groom with the hugest smile of excitement on her face. Slowly the grooms turns around and the look on his face is priceless! Smiles turn to happy tears, he spins you to see your entire dress, and then he holds your tighter than he’s ever held you before. At this moment you share words, laughter, even a prayer. Both of you completely relaxed, nerves vanished, and now there is nothing more than just excitement to get married!Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

To be honest, the first time we talk to grooms about a first look, most have no idea what it is. All they know is traditionally the first time they see their bride, hundreds of eyes are of them, looking for his reaction as she walks down the isle. That can be nerve racking! But once our couples have done a first look and all the nerves are gone, that reaction you as bride have been waiting for your entire life, is more emotional than ever before!

We’ve saved the best for last. If our brides are considering a first look, but not yet sure, we create two ideal wedding day timelines, one with and one without a first look, so they can compare apples to apples on how the day will unfold. After the first look we go right into couples portraits, then bridal party, and family, all before the ceremony. You heard us right, before the ceremony. Once the ceremony is over, we spend only a few minutes with you capturing husband and wife portraits, then you’re off to join cocktail hour where you actually get to mingle and celebrate with the guests. Unheard of right!?!? Grooms LOVE to hear that! No more drawn out cocktail hours where guests are getting antsy to be seated, but you get to actually spend more time with all your lovely guests! AND… you end up with 40% more couples portraits! It’s a win win!

BUT! Don’t just take it from us, here what our past grooms have to say about doing a first look…Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

“I loved the first look! It was so nice to see my wife privately, and not feel like I had to hold back my emotions in front of our guests. I was able to be emotional seeing her in her dress for the first time, and to this day, I cherish having that moment for just the two of us to enjoy. The first look gave me a chance to have a moment with her in all her beauty, without having to rush right into the ceremony. We were really able to take time in the middle of such a busy day to cherish seeing each other for the first time.” -Evan

Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

“I’m generally a reserved guy. The thought of standing in front of 100+ people was something that I dreaded even before I proposed. We decided to have a first look in hopes that we would both shake away the jitters before the ceremony and we were so glad we did! We shared a few laughs and reflected on the craziness of the morning. The next time we saw each other was when she was walking down the aisle, and by then it didn’t matter that over a hundred other were watching too.” – Mark

Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

“I didn’t think I would be, but I got super nervous right before seeing Stacey for the first time before the ceremony. Literally, right when I saw her and gave her a hug, it was completely gone. I would much rather do that privately than in front of the entire wedding. Stacey and I aren’t the type of couple that like to be center of attention, so maybe that’s why enjoyed doing the first look. Either way, I would do it again if I had to go back. Lastly, I really liked that we were able to get all the photos done before the ceremony so our wedding parties could enjoy cocktail hour” – Matt

Importance of First Looks | Monterey Wedding Photographers | Laura & Rachel

“Those few moments alone with her were purely magical. I was nervous, excited, and anxious all day leading up to the ceremony. Those few sacred moments with her brought me peace and helped me stay grounded.” – Shane


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Together, we have worked in the wedding industry for over a decade, and make up one incredibly unique mother-daughter fine art wedding photography team. We have documented weddings from the breathtaking West Coast, to the historic East, and have had our work published internationally both in print and online. Our wanderlust hearts have taken us all over the country, capturing love stories, and visiting quaint hometown coffee shops along the way, and even though we've spent most of our lives in a nautical California town, we now call South Carolina home, expanding to the low country of Charleston. We are photographers, directors, curators, and most of all, storytellers for your wedding.

And WE can't wait to get to know you!

We're Laura & Rachel