While some people still believe that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding, I think having a first look makes for the most incredible wedding portraits. When I was planning my own wedding, I knew I wanted that little slice of time for Jake and I to just enjoy each other’s company. No crowds, no pressure, just the two of us. Well, the two of us and our photographers. No lie, those portraits from the first look are the ones that hang up in our home. I walk by those canvas prints and smile every time because they just capture us so perfectly.

Still unsure about having your own first look? Here are five good – no, GREAT – reasons why that slice of time should be a part of your day, coming from a bride who did it and a photographer who loves it!

1. Practicality. It gives you a buffer. By having portraits BEFORE the ceremony, you get more time to do family portraits AFTER the ceremony. That means things STAY ON SCHEDULE. Your time after the ceremony isn’t torn between getting pinterest-worthy portraits and formal family groups. Jake and I had an hour to do bridal portraits during our first look. After the ceremony, family portraits were a breeze AND we got done ahead of schedule. Which worked out perfect because storms started rolling in. Since we had the time before the reception started, we relaxed out of sight and just enjoyed being newlyweds. There was ZERO stressing out about being on schedule.

2. You get privacy. This is no joke! Your wedding day isn’t private at all. You’re in front of family, friends, vendors… the list goes on! This one hour gives you a break before everyone gets to intrude on your privacy. You’ll probably be doing hair and makeup {with a crowd}. Your groom is probably hanging out with his groomsmen. The vendor is making last minute arrangements. All of this is happening before the ceremony even starts. GIVE YOURSELF A MOMENT TO BREATHE. Step away from the bridal party, the vendors, the in-laws, step away from everyone! Find that special spot where no one can find the two of you and just enjoy it.

3. You get to be yourselves in the pictures. This is a HUGE deal. Great-Aunt-Susie isn’t judging you when you nuzzle in close for a lingering hug. Your little nephew isn’t making “eeewwww” sounds when you kiss. Your pictures will show a relaxed, in-love couple and that’s kinda the WHOLE point of this exercise. {I love making faces at Jake, so that’s what I did without reservation!} When you two are able to relax, your pictures will become works of art. Plus, any silly little moments that happen stay between you. Those inside jokes, the funny faces, the stray tear, all of that happens in a judgement-free zone.

4. That big reveal creates emotion and when it’s private, those emotions aren’t hidden or stifled because of stage fright. I teared up seeing Jake in his tuxedo. I got butterflies sneaking up behind him. And when he turned around and his jaw dropped when he saw me? That was worth it. The world just stopped and he and I were able to be in love and remember why we were about to go through with this huge moment in our lives. We had time to chat between poses, compliment each other, and remind one another that this was OUR day. A wedding is a huge ordeal. Having that hour meant we were doing it as a team.

5. Pictures, pictures, pictures. This is where your photographer can truly work magic. We have time to find the flattering light, to find the perfect backdrop, to arrange the perfect pose. This time means that the pictures you WANT are the pictures you GET. These are the pictures that’ll be on your wall for decades to come. These are the pictures that you’ll show off to anyone who will pay attention. This is it, guys and gals. You hired a professional and this is giving them every tool they need to take care of you.

That first look is important. Can you have a wedding day without one? Of course you can! It’s your wedding!! But having that extra time built in to be a schedule buffer, a stress-free zone, a creativity arena? That can really help make your day magical. Your pictures are going to show that. I know I remember more about our first look than I do my own wedding ceremony. I don’t know if that’s just silly or romantic, but it’s true.

Bottom line? You do you. That’s what weddings are all about. Correction: that’s what YOUR wedding is all about.

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