From beautiful Virginia Beach, Virginia

jake & jen

Virginia Wedding Photographers based out of the best place to live (in our opinions), Virginia Beach, VA! 
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The First Look What is it? And should we do it?

We love educating our brides any way we can, so this week we wanted to provide a new blog to our bridal resources section of our blog and one of the things we get asked a lot about is a First Look.  What is it?  How does it work?  Why should we do it?  But it’s not traditional? So we’ve put together a blog to help explain what it is and all the benefits it can offer you on your wedding day.  We hope you enjoy

To Do A First Look or Not to Do A First Look?

The First Look can be an amazing part of your wedding day!  If you aren’t sure about this tradition, the next several paragraphs will explain why it could be a romantic addition to your wedding day celebration that not only adds to the experience but also reduces stress.  Please know that we would never want any of our couples to feel pressured to go with this option.  However, we do want to share all the great benefits the First Look can offer just in case you might be leaning toward that option.
First Looks!  They really can be AWESOME! However, not everyone is aware of how awesome they can be because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” they are, and they immediately write it off.  I know because I wanted a REACTION….I wanted Jake to be so surprised and overcome with joy when I walked down the aisle that he bawled at the first sight of me!  Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction?   Walking down the aisle on my wedding day was a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime!!
But truthfully, I wasn’t educated on how beneficial a First Look could be and now, as a wedding photographer having seen both the traditional way and the non-traditional way, I see how much more intimate and meaningful and how much stress is reduced on both the bride and groom and the entire wedding party when doing a First Look.   If I could go back and repeat my wedding day, I would have loved all that doing a First Look has to offer.
Yes, most brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants and hopes for is the REACTION from her groom when he sees her for the first time.  Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. What I have found is actually the opposite!  Grooms have the freedom to react and express their reaction without all the pressure of everyone staring at him.  We’ve had grooms share his vows in the private moment of a First Look and the bride share hers or we’ve seen couples share beautifully crafted and written love letters to each other.  One time a groom turned to the bride after finishing their “First Look” time and said, “I am so glad you convinced me to do this, it was so special!”  Often, the groom feels pressured to respond a certain way when standing at the altar.  The First Look makes things so much more stressfree, intimate and private.
Let’s paint a picture of what doing a First Look might look like…
It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in and the calm, collected groom who was just relaxing is now starting to feel a little anxious. So what happens next?  The groom waits in a little room somewhere for his cue from the coordinator.  It seems like it’s taking FOREVER.  Finally, the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the groom to get ready.  With clammy hands, the groom enters the ceremony and what does he find? …. he finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful. … I already said that walking down the aisle was one of the BEST PARTS of my WHOLE wedding day!! It’s magical!! …..
For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time.  He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway.
Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits.  No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure.  It’s just the two of them and their photographer….. capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First Look…. it doesn’t.  After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends.  Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup while the boys act like boys.  After a few minutes, the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN. They’re FUN because there is time to make them FUN.
There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check.  It’s wonderful!
After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony.  And everyone is ready to face the ceremony with excitement because all the pressure and nerves are now gone.  The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony.  As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement.  The music builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead.  The groom looks up, and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning.  The closer she gets, the bigger he smiles.
Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing this option with couples who were against it because I didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again, and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a First Look! 
Keep reading to find out more of the benefits of sharing your first look privately! For brides not interested in a First Look, let’s start chatting soon about how we’ll create a special timeline to fit everything in!
You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with! (Believe me, our house is PACKED full of our portraits!)  With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money.
You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look.  He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look.  And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day.  Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time.  With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day.
First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. When you see each other, not only will it be intimate, it will be your only time to be alone the whole day! You can cry and laugh and cry some more… which leads to the PERFECT mood for your romantic portraits. Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals, and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other.
You get rid of your nerves!  Usually grooms are not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they don’t know how nerve racking it can be.
Bride’s, if you have never seen your man cry or get emotional, you can’t expect him to be overly emotional on your wedding day. Some guys just embrace their brides and never cry…. and that’s OK.  Some guys show very little emotion when their bride is coming down the aisle and that’s ok too.  Just enjoy this amazing day, and try not to put any expectations on him.  If you take this advice to heart, I could potentially be saving you a lot of disappointment on your day.  One thing we have noticed after shooting so many weddings is that the stress and nerves that come with a wedding day can sometimes make it hard for some grooms to truly express their emotions.  It’s just a lot to take in all at once. This is a great reason to share a First Look and also a great reason to give some grace to your guy!  Sure, you deserve to feel beautiful, but my encouragement to you is to enjoy this time together, no matter what his reaction is like!
If you are interested in this further, please be sure to let us know! We’d be happy to tailor a wedding photography timeline with this important part included.
With Love,

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