Our wonderful clients often come to us with great questions as they are working through their planning process. There are so many pieces and parts to planning your wedding day – so asking great questions of your wedding planner can really help enhance your day as you capitalize on the experience that s/he has gained. In hopes that their questions and our answers might also help you – we are going to start sharing them right here! Enjoy!
We are starting to think about the schedule for our big day, and our question is how to set up a First Look (who should be invited, where, etc.).  We are wondering if you have any ideas or information about what you’ve done in the past?
This is actually a great question – and one that is more and more common as savvy couples (like yourselves!) try to find ways to balance getting the most out of their big day while balancing their priorities when it comes to traditions.
Here are some thoughts about the First Look:
  • Choose a meaningful location: Perhaps go where you had your first date, or to the place where you got engaged, or to your favorite park.  This way you will always have the memory of that special place and those special moments in your First Look photos.
  • Consider the logistics: Some people may also opt to choose a location because it is convenient (i.e. their venue, their home, the hotel where they are getting ready, etc.) and there is nothing wrong with that. Be sure to look for a spot at your chosen location where you will be happy with the backgrounds of your photos. Consider the difference also between public and private spots and the corresponding level of control you will have. In a private location you can be sure no strangers sneak into your photos (either accidentally or a la photobombing) but you won’t likely have that level of control in a public place. Your photographer or planner should be a great resource for ideas.
  • Select your participants: I have seen couples who first choose do a special “First Look” with parents or bridesmaids/groomsmen, which makes for another special and fun moment. Others choose to limit the audience for the special First Look moment, and include only a small group of either both sets of parents or the select members of the wedding party.  This is certainly a matter of preference – as I have also seen folks who adamantly felt it should just be the two of them plus photographers. If you have the option, having two photographers to capture both angles/faces of the First Look is optimal.
  • Add your own special twist: For example, I worked with a couple who chose to have the groom give the bride her bouquet as part of their First Look. She hadn’t yet seen it, so it was a way for her to be surprised at that moment as well. If you are doing gifts or letters/cards for each other on the wedding day, this could be the moment that you choose to exchange them. The best First Look experiences seem to be the ones where the process is made personal through a creative touch or part of the plan that makes it extra special.
  • Ask yourself: Does doing a First Look lessen the experience of walking down the aisle without having seen each other before that moment? Without exception, no couple I have worked with who decided to do a First Look ever felt like that BIG moment was any less special. That moment, with your friends and family all around, with your wedding party by your sides, with the special music you have chosen, in the special place you have selected, is one that I believe cannot be diminished. Don’t let any concern about the special-ness of that moment deter you from considering the idea of a First Look. Conversely, if tradition is really important to you, do not be afraid to stick to that and plan your day accordingly. As in life, your goal in planning your day should be simple: no regrets! Just a host of wonderful memories made along the way…

Sarah & John Fern's First Look - part of the free wedding they won through Geneva Wedding 12. Photo courtesy of Hazelton Photo/Tom Nicol Photo.