Our Best Wedding Decisions ~ A First Look

I'm not sure when I first heard about first looks. But when I was engaged (and yes, for a few months before), I was ALL OVER wedding forums. It was a bit of an obsession. But I certainly feel like all those hours were helpful, because I learned a lot about timelines, and wedding budgets, and all those little details that people don't think about. And it's better than hours of TV, so no judging!

Anyway, as traditional and classic as I wanted to be, I knew that I wanted to do a first look. And Ryan was on board right away too. I knew that both of us would be nervous about standing up in front of everyone to say our vows (even if it was only 80 people) and I knew that seeing him would keep me calm.

And after shooting a few weddings that didn't have first looks, I've seen that nervousness first hand. The bride just wants to see her man. She's super excited to marry him, but the flowers aren't quite right or Aunt Susan got lost and is going to miss the ceremony. Whatever little drama pops up while she's hiding away in her room. All she can do is dwell on it and fret and send someone to try to fix it. And all of that makes her even more nervous.

But with a first look, I got to see my groom almost right away. As soon as I was dressed and ready, I could see him. And we got to spend the next few hours together before the ceremony. So when our groomsmen realized they had parked in the wrong garage and one of them was getting towed, I didn't have to worry about it from my little hideaway. I was right there to make sure everyone's cars were in the right spot. I didn't have to worry about the reception decor or if the photographer had time to set up the photo booth backdrop or if the cake had arrived. I was right there in the reception room with my bridal party (another perk of having the whole wedding at one location).

But more than avoiding nervousness, the first look to me was the opportunity for us to really enjoy that first moment of seeing each other. You can't really do that at the end of the aisle while the pastor is speaking and everyone is staring at you. I got to show Ryan my dress and hug and kiss him right away, not when the pastor pronounced us husband and wife (although I kissed him then too!)

And we got way more portraits in that 45 minutes than we would have if we had tried to cram all of our pictures in after the ceremony. And that was the most important part to me, because that's the part that lasts.

All our wedding photos courtesy of my dear friend Rebecca Franklin.