The anticipation builds. Nerves are running at full speed. Excitement doesn’t begin to explain it. You’ve spent the whole morning getting ready for this. Makeup is perfect, hair is pinned in place and the dress is fitting you exactly how it should. Now it’s time to see your groom.
This is one of the biggest moments of your wedding day. Months of planning have built up to this. You spent the morning and maybe even the night before apart preparing last-minute touches. And in just moments, you get to see the person you will spend the rest of your life with.
Traditionally, this is the moment before you are escorted down the aisle, with all of your closest family and friends in awe of how lovely of a bride you are. Tears might have built up. In fact, they’re probably spilling over. Looking ahead, there he is.
Following this moment, you say your vows, exchange rings, kiss, exit. Speed through tons of hugs and kisses while promising everyone you will meet them on the dance floor, remind grandma that she can’t leave quite yet because you need a picture, and hope the bridal party cooperates for some fun photos before they escape to the party bus all while trying to enjoy a few minutes with your new husband before heading to the reception.
No matter how many times your newlywed friends tell you, you can’t understand how fast time flies by on your wedding day until you experience it yourself. It is so easy to forget the joy of the day when you are stressing about getting from one place to the next, or squeezing too much between the ceremony and reception. When thinking about the wedding timeline, we always suggest adding an extra 10 minutes here and there for the inevitable 'bridesmaid in the bathroom' or 'groomsman can't find his tie' scenario, yet somehow you can still end up feeling rushed from here to there all day long.
While adding extra time in where you can helps make the day run smooth, there's one huge piece of advice we can offer if you're feeling stressed about your timeline: consider doing a first look with your groom before walking down the aisle. Depending on the logistics of your day, scheduling a first look and the rest of your photos before heading to the altar can provide a calm, relaxed, and stress-free transition from the ceremony to the reception.
A first look is especially helpful when your ceremony and reception are in the same location. A shorter window before dinner means a shorter cocktail hour, and less time for your guests to wait before getting the party started. Even if you have the ceremony and reception at different locations, a first look is still beneficial since you won't have to add in extra time for pictures after the ceremony, and you can make your way to the dance floor right away! Another major plus is that your whole bridal party will be looking fresh for photos. Hair and makeup are still in place, and groomsmen haven't had time to wrinkle their tuxedos.
Perhaps most important, it is entirely possible to make your first look just as romantic (if not more so - it is just the two of you, after all!) as first seeing your soon-to-be spouse when you walk down the aisle.
So let’s go back to the beginning: The anticipation builds. Nerves are running at full speed. Excitement doesn’t begin to explain it. You round the corner with eyes closed. You hear his voice. You smell his cologne. On three, you both open your eyes. A quiet moment between the two of you. Nobody is watching but the photographers who are capturing this sweet rush of emotion and pure love. The tears have built up and poured over. You can’t stop smiling as you realize that this is what this whole day is about. It doesn’t matter if the flowers arrive in blush instead of ivory, or that you smudged your manicure earlier. All that matters is the two of you.
Thanks to perfect planning, you are now relaxed and ready for your walk down the aisle. The ceremony is still as beautiful as ever, only now; you have a few less nerves making your stomach do flips. You’ve already enjoyed your sweet moments alone, so you are ready to take on hugs and kisses, bustling, dabbing, and of course, celebrating!
If you have any doubts about how sweet and intimate a first look can be, we’ve asked a few of our brides what they thought about their first look:
“...you still have that anticipation but you get to do it privately, instead of in front of everyone. It is a nice moment to spend with your partner before all the festivities start. Plus you can't beat getting almost all of your photos done before the ceremony so you can spend as much time as possible with family and friends...“ - Raquel Neiderhouse - Hid behind and released balloons for their first look outside of The Oliver House.
“I was more nervous about seeing Lou for the first time, so doing it in private was best for the both of us. Plus, we got most of the pictures out of the way and were very excited to get hitched and party!" - Maegan Bellino - first look at Mill Creek Park in front of a waterfall surrounded by a pine forest.
"...At first, I was apprehensive about seeing him before we said our vows, but after doing it I wouldn't change a thing. The first look made our experience very personal and intimate. It was just him and I, not a church full of people. It calmed my nerves and made me even more excited to walk down the aisle." Rachael Hallett - A charming first look at the count of three in the church garden.
"It felt like our own special private moment to just be us on our wedding day. He always calms me and after I saw him I knew the rest of the day would be perfect. Also, the anticipation for him to see me was the most exciting feeling I have ever experienced and his reaction was worth the wait." Chelsea Palmer - An adorable first look in a ballroom at Nazareth Hall.
We love the unique ideas of each and every one of our Swatch Couples, whether that means going the first look route, or the more traditional one. We have seen some gorgeous first look moments and couples that have pulled off the post-ceremony photos flawlessly. So while it’s important to consider your wedding day timeline when deciding how your photos fit in, what’s most important is that you every every moment of your big day!