Saying “No” to a First Look

These days, it seems like everyone is doing a first look. Everybody wants to get a million photos, so they do the first look thing and then have all the photos done before the ceremony. I totally get it. I want to have a million photos, too. And I don’t want to spend hours between the ceremony and reception taking them. BUT, neither my fiance nor I want to do a first look. Why?

For one, we want the moment when I walk down the aisle to be extra special. I know, I know, everyone says it’s still super magical even if you have done a first look. Sorry. I don’t believe you. [Edit: This came out wrong. What I should have said is, "I don't believe that would be true for me."  I trust you all when you say that your own moments were quite magical.]

Second, I’m going to go out on a limb here and admit that I just don’t really like the photos that come out of those sessions. The girl taps the guy on the shoulder. He turns around, does the sort-of surprised face. They have an awkward hug (has another actually hugged their significant other like that before? Why do they always look so weird?). And then they kiss and the rest of the photo shoot commences. (I am purposefully not posting any pictures here, because that would just be rude. There will be no dissing of any specific wedding photos.)

Really, reason numbers one and two should probably be enough for anyone to understand why we’re not doing a first look. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you about the third reason. I know I’m going to be nervous on my wedding day. I know Mr. Whale will also be nervous. And when I get nervous, I start talking about all kinds of random things, especially the things that I’m worried about.

http://www.weddingbee.com/

Except I’m not all cute like she is. (Image from Never a Dull Moment with Missy)

And when he gets nervous, he doesn’t know how to handle my nervousness. I might end up telling him about how I’m not entirely sure how our food is going to taste, because I once read a review that said it wasn’t good. And then he’ll say, “Why didn’t you tell me that?? Now our reception will be ruined!” Or I might say, “Do you like my dress? I almost bought this other one, but then I really liked this one. But I wonder if you would have like the other one.” And then he’d say, “That other dress sounds amazing. Why didn’t you buy it? You should have bought it!”

Seriously. Those responses are not an over-exaggeration. When he gets nervous, he plummets head-first off the slippery slope into a sea of impending doom if anything seems like it might go wrong.

So that is how I envision our first look going, which really doesn’t sound like the perfect romantic encounter, does it? No, I didn’t think so either.

Somehow, I almost got convinced early on in planning that I might want to do a first look when I thought about how we could take soooo many pictures before the ceremony. But Mr. Whale got me back on track when he said there was no way he was going to see me before the ceremony. That basically settled it.

The strangest part about not doing the first look is feeling like we’re bucking the trend. I thought that not having a first look was supposed to be more traditional, but these days, people think you’re crazy if you don’t do one.

Any other brides breaking this new tradition by staying traditional and not having a first look? Why did you decide one way or the other?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Blue Whale

Location:
College Park, MD
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Add a comment

comments

  1. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 11:25 am

    I was actually adamantly against First Looks for quite a while, until I sat down to do a timeline and figure out logistics. It took some convincing (both for myself and for my FI) and a lot of discussion, but we realized that it’s the best decision for us and for our day. We’re also similar in thought to the Minks’ in that we view ourselves as the hosts of our wedding and therefore, we need to be gracious and interact with our guests. Not saying that this can’t happen without a first look, but with approximately 220 guests, you need to take every second you can get!

    That having been said, although I completely respect and support your decision, I absolutely took offense to one of your first lines. “For one, we want the moment when I walk down the aisle to be extra special. I know, I know, everyone says it’s still super magical even if you have done a first look. Sorry. I don’t believe you.” So, you don’t believe the multiple brides who have walked down the aisle and felt the magic upon seeing their significant other? I realize it might sound nit-picky, but there are a TON of other ways this could have been said. The rest of your post could have used a little more understanding as well.

    All that having been said, I’m glad that you and Mr. Whale have come to a decision that is right for you both. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. It would just be nice if we could be respectful of the same decisions of others, even if they differ.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 12:46 pm

    Ruthless organization will get fabulous photos taken after the ceremony within 30 minutes– including family. Have a set shot list and communicate to family, and there’s no reason why you and your new spouse can’t have wonderful pics after the ceremony. First looks for photos just are awkward and silly, and I’m so tired of them. Don’t cheat yourself out of a moment by taking lots of pictures–of you still unmarried!

    I have a magical photo– my photographer caught my husband’s brother (his best man) putting his arm around him as the doors opened and I came down the aisle and he saw me for the first time. That was worth having fewer photos after the ceremony alone.

  3. Member
    iloveyourlovethemost 1311 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:33 pm

    @Miss Blue Whale: Regardless of what you intention was when you posted this, you are likely receiving negative comments because you are criticizing others’ choices to have first looks, which is against WB’s TOS.

  4. Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:04 pm

    As a bride who had a first look, I absolutely applaud your decision to do what is best for you. There are so many reasons why Mr. Parasol and I chose to have a first look, and I wouldn’t trade those precious moments for anything. But I understand that those reasons don’t hold true for other couples, and we all need to do what we are most comfortable with.

    I would have loved to learn more about why you think saving your first look for the walk down the aisle is so important to you and Mr. Blue Whale. As a bride who cherishes the moments spent alone with her soon-to-be-husband as the most special in her entire wedding day, I am interested in why brides like you place such importance of seeing each other for the first at the end of the aisle. I’m honestly really curious because I obviously see things differently, and I wish you had elaborated on that more. I think that would have been a more informative and interesting post.

    Also, when someone tells you that a particular aspect of their wedding was truly special and magical, please believe them. :) We’re not lying, I swear. I totally get that a first look wouldn’t be special or magical for you, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t for brides like me.

  5. Member
    Koi Fishie 213 posts, Helper bee @ 7:11 pm

    “Sorry. I don’t believe you.”

    Exactly. Me either. I want a million pictures too but not with a first look!

  6. Member
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 7:26 pm

    @parasol: Thank you thank you thank you for being critical without being mean! I’m completely open to criticism, but sometimes commenters forget that bees are people too!

    This post has been a good lesson in how one’s tone of voice can change in the transition from one’s head to written words. I never in a million years meant to suggest that I think that brides who did do a first look could have had a more special aisle moment without the first look. What I probably should have said was, “I don’t believe that would be true for me.” (I guess I assumed that’s what people would think I meant, but we all know what happens when one assumes…) Lesson learned.

    It’s so hard to know exactly what people want to read, but thanks for letting me know what you would have wanted to hear. I think we bees are sometimes afraid of boring people, so we cut out some bits that might seem less interesting. The real meat of why we’re not doing the first look is really in the third reason I mentioned. I’m just pretty sure that it would end up being a total disaster. My FI isn’t really keen on taking many pictures anyway. It makes him nervous. So I think taking the pictures might actually put him in a bad mood or make him MORE nervous before the ceremony. And, whereas most brides seem to equate the first look with a time to calm your nerves, I think I would be really really nervous about actually doing a first look… which kind of defeats some of the purpose :)

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Johanna, Guest @ 6:22 am

    So you lied about your reasonings, insulted many people and then came on the comments swinging? Which by the way would be against the TOS of weddingbee, but again, bloggers are held to an apparently lower standard then everyone else.

    Good luck, I’m certain you will have a magical walk down your aisle.

  8. Member
    epalmisano829 453 posts, Helper bee @ 6:50 am

    @Johanna: Really? How can you in any way give someone else crap about the TOS when you are being so snarky and rude.

    Glass houses people… seriously.

  9. Member
    lobbyart 131 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:29 am

    Going back to Mrs. Elk’s post, the whole aisle being the first look thing is culturally and religiously specific. Placing value judgments on things from a Christian (or other religion’s) lens just doesn’t work. Does having your first look during a ketubah signing make it less exciting or meaningful? Definitely not for us!

  10. Member
    fjparriswed 2 posts, Wannabee @ 9:25 am

    not doing a first look for the same reasons. Initially my FI wanted it so that he could enjoy the whole cocktail hour, but it’s def not how I imagined the moment we see each other that day. I am a believer in the magical moment of him seeing me walk down the aisle the first time that day.

  11. Member
    paw 871 posts, Busy bee @ 10:48 am

    I am glad you seem to have taken some of the criticism to heart on here for future posts. When I was reading this post, my eyes honestly grew very wide at your opinions of other people’s choices. I was honestly offended by your opinions here even though I chose not to have a first look, and it was completely the right choice for us.

  12. Member
    pinkmoon 10748 posts, Sugar Beekeeper @ 11:30 am

    Won’t be doing one. Pretty much for the same reasons as you!

  13. Member
    radishtime 316 posts, Helper bee @ 12:45 pm

    I’m also skipping the first look
    For one, because I don’t like the tap and turn around pictures, but also because I know I’m going to be nervous before the ceremony. and that will show in my photos. trust me. I dont want them to look like FI and I’s prom pictures (It was our first date and we are very visibly nervous in the photos)

    I want our wedding photos to show us as calm, happy, and relaxed as we will be to finally be an actual married couple!for more laid back people, they could probably feel that way and look that way before the wedding too. But i know for us, having the ceremony done will be a huge release and a huge joy, and I want to see that joy on our faces

  14. Member
    Hippos 1670 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:30 am

    My husband and I decided against it…well actually he didn’t want it. Of all the things he could’ve said anything about with our wedding the one thing he truly cared about was not to see me before I walk down the aisle. He didn’t even want to know what my dress looked like, how I was going to wear my hair etc.

  15. Member
    althomas188 6 posts, Newbee @ 9:30 am

    I LOVE this post! When I first started wedding planning several months ago, trying to find “the” photographer was my number one priority. My man, dress, and pictures will be the only things I physically take away from the day, so I find them most important. After talking with the photographer, who I was sure I wanted to use, I was so discouraged and saddened. She kept bashing me for not wanting to see each other before the wedding. She went on and on about how “your guests will get tired of waiting, and just leave.” After talking to a few others who had the same opinion, I set out on a different journey – to find a photographer who wanted what I wanted, and realized it was OUR day and not a performance for our guests. I get it, our guests are important, but I thought this was a day to celebrate us, and not them. So, go against the grain, and stay away from it. Do what you want, and just think about how exciting it will be to see each other the first time you walk down the aisle?!

  16. Member
    mrshollinger 1013 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:55 am

    We are not doing a first look either.

    I would like to, but my groom is very traditional and wants to see me for the first time that day walking down the aisle.

  17. Member
    manatee 31 posts, Newbee @ 10:09 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! I’ve always thought first look pictures looked awkward and staged as well, although I’m sure its quite intense for the couples involved in them. We’re both very traditional in this aspect and want the first time we see each other that day to be on the aisle! We’re not spending the night together the night before and we’re even limiting contact the day before! Hoping to build up the butterflies as much as possible :)

  18. Member
    vanillarani 8 posts, Newbee @ 6:36 pm

    It’s totally a personal preference that’s for sure. And your reasons totally work for you and your fiance :)

    We are actually doing a first look, but I totally don’t want it to be like the staged ones with the shoulder tap, etc. I have a good photographer so I’m sure she’ll come up with something special. We are bucking tradition and walking down the aisle together (*gasp*) and so him getting his first look at me walking down the aisle doesn’t quite work!

  19. Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:27 am

    We did a first look, oddly enough, exactly *for* one of the reasons you mentioned (and it wasn’t to get a lot of pictures!). We both tend to be big balls of nerves, and we definitely were on our wedding day. Seeing each other before hand is what calmed us both down – and for us, absolutely nothing was taken away from seeing each other before the ceremony. Heck, i was still nervous and oh-so-giddy for my walk down the aisle later!!

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    Liz, Guest @ 7:36 pm

    We are not doing a first look for a few different reasons than those mentioned. One: My fiance and I will be spending the night before together and probably most of the morning. I want there to be an extra specialness and anticipation before he gets to see me ‘transformed’ into a bride. Two: It’s about the pictures, but not that I don’t like first look pictures or getting more pictures. It’s about the fact that all of our couple shots, we won’t be “married” yet. We will have more engaged pictures instead in my mind. Three: We are on a tight timeline. While I hate to miss out on our cocktail hour, which is a more flexible deadline: getting to dinner at the same time as everyone else, or starting the ceremony late? I would be so stressed out about everything coming together in time for the ceremony versus after the ceremony, I think I’ll be a lot more “whatever happens, happens”.

    Fortunately, my photographer is in the no-first-look camp, and loves capturing those “blissed out” moments right after.

  21. Member
    sarahbeth_ 152 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:13 pm

    haha! i love this post. we arent doing a first look either because we think it will be much more exciting when i’m walking down the isle. i love how honest you are — it can’t be as exciting if you see each other first. it just cant be. case closed.

add a comment

Find Amazing Vendors