Oh, the first look. Let me start this post by admitting that I was one of the "I want to have the Grand Entrance-ers..." I knew when I planned my wedding that Matt and I would have an hour cocktail party that would work perfectly for our portraits. Our ceremony was earlier in the day and the lighting would be much better afterwards. That said, that is certainly not always the case. I feel like I can fairly discuss both options because, well, I had a little taste of both experiences. I wanted THE entrance. I envisioned the grand moment. The doors swinging open as the music swells and Matt's eyes lock on me in all my bridal glory for the very first time. Yeah...that wasn't really the case.
On my wedding day, I had a teensy bit of an anxiety attack. It wasn't cold feet or jitters from knowing I had to stand up in front of everyone (ha, please! I love attention!) It was simply being told that I had to sit still for two hours and there wasn't anything else that needed my attention. I remember feeling my chest get tight and my face heat up. I then politely requested for one of my best friends to open the bottle of champagne, which took too long and left me yanking it from her hands and swigging it straight from the bottle. In front of my little sisters. And my mom.
As my friends and family grew concerned, I realized they all thought I was having second thoughts about marrying Matt and that really sent me into a tailspin. Finally, I locked eyes with my mom and said the five words I swore I wouldn't say. "I need to see Matt." My mom then raced down the hall to the little pre-schoolesce classroom the guys were holed up in, and told Matt to come with her. He'll tell you, when she told him to come, a tiny voice inside his head whispered "it's a traaaappp." He knew for certain two things. One, be at the church at 2:30. And two, don't see me before the wedding. Thankfully, he ignored the voice and came to me.
In the end, it was my favorite moment of my entire wedding day. As soon as I saw him, I was fine. Even better, we shared a private, amazing moment in an empty classroom. He took my face in his hands, kissed my forehead and told me how beautiful I looked. And, just like that, I was fine. Beyond fine actually, I was excited and SO ready to marry that man.
The truth about the "grand entrance". The grand entrance is what some brides dream about. I know I did. Everyone standing and directing their attention back to the end of the aisle. A human tunnel of all your loved ones connecting you to your future husband. Here's what people don't tell you about that moment, you aren't really quite as present as you think you're going to be. While walking toward your handsome man, you're also thinking about all those people looking at you. You're aware of the shoes that were comfortable for the first hour, but are now pissing your toes off one by one. You're carefully putting one foot in front of the other so you don't end up on your face. And then, once you get there, you just look at him. I think this was the weirdest part of all for me. This was such an amazing moment and everything in me was desperate to wrap my arms around him, tell him how excited I was, laugh! Cry! Give him the biggest high-five EVER! Just get to connect with him for a few minutes. But instead, we had to pay attention to our Pastor so we didn't miss our cue.
Now. I am NOT downplaying the grand entrance. It is really a special moment that I love capturing as my brides experience it. However, I feel like the option of doing a first look can somehow seem sub-par, or like a concession instead of looked at as the amazing opportunity it actually is.
The truth about the first look. What is a first look? A first look is when you see each other before the wedding. Whether it's because of time constraints, logistics, or just preferential. If the bride and groom have to see each other before the wedding, I make sure that it's a very special and intimate moment for them. I'll scope out a good place and clear everyone out of that area. I do mean everyone. Caterers/planners/bridesmaids/florists/etc. The last thing I want is for you to be turning around to see your love as a waiter yells, "Joe, you gotta cigarette?" This is a moment just for the two of you. Not you, your future husband and Joe. I also keep my distance. This is one of those moments where I slap on a long lens and stay back. You won't get any, "Hey, can you kiss her again? A little to the left" from me. In fact, I'm going to shoot your reactions, and then even I'm going to walk away. You two deserve this moment. It is probably the only moment you'll have just the two of you to drink in the sweet significance of that day.
Either way you want to do it, both ways have their own set of amazing perks. If your wedding day timeline dictates that a first look would be better, don't despair. It is one of the most amazing moments you can enjoy together. And if you prefer the grand entrance, maybe just look into penciling a hug at the end of the aisle.
Your Atlanta Wedding Photographer,