I’m covering a super interesting and important topic today. FIRST LOOK! Maybe you know exactly what that is and already made up your mind about it, or maybe you’ve heard the term, but aren’t quite sure what to think of it and how on earth it fits into your Caribbean destination wedding. I’m coming to the rescue, and promise that by the end of this article, you’ll feel like an expert on this “First Look” phenomenon, and whether it’s right for your magical Punta Cana destination wedding! (And if you’re getting married elsewhere in Dominican Republic, or somewhere else entirely – read on, this information is still GOLD!)
Let me preface this by saying: although I’m obviously a huge fan of carving out time for the “First Look,” it’s entirely up to you… NO BRIDE has regretted DOING IT, but NO BRIDE has regretted NOT doing it. Your Wedding, your choice, your way!
That said, “First Look” moments are our absolute favourite! Here’s why:
1) QUICK, THE SUN IS SETTING!!!!
Summer nights back home (US & Canada) are nice and loooooooooong …. When I moved to become a Punta Cana wedding photographer, I was shocked to discover how quickly the sun sets here in Punta Cana. It varies slightly throughout the year, but generally between 5:30 in December and 7:30 pm in July. The light disappears so fast! Before you know it, golden rays turn into a pitch-black night, and it’s only 7:30 pm, or even earlier. No bueno! 🙂 This is why I’m so passionate about educating my sweet Brides about the best ways to plan the wedding day. The trick is to check the Punta Cana sunset time on google and plan backwards from there. The list of important things to do before it’s dark is long (again, backwards): portraits of you and your beloved in the sunset light, fun & classy bridal party photos, family portraits, some time for you to enjoy cocktail hour & candids of guests, and of course, the ceremony! Without the First Look (which, as you probably figured out, happens before the ceremony), there’s often almost no time for Bride & Groom portraits, and that’s incredibly sad. Can you imagine – on this Day you’ve been planning and dreaming of, you’d get to spend no more than a couple of hours of light with your new husband?
2) They all say: “IT FLIES BY SO FAST!”
If there’s ONE thing I hear from absolutely every single Bride, it’s this… Too fast! The day went by too fast! If you don’t do the “First Look,” this means you don’t get to see or make memories with your beloved until 5 o’clock in the evening! Don’t you want all the time you can get? All those minutes of togetherness are so precious. After all, who is the Day really for?!
The “First Look” is often the only time you’ll spend ‘alone’ on the day ?(until you collapse on your hotel bed at 2 am and order room service pizza). Seeing each other before the ceremony, without any guests or curious onlookers, is such a special and intimate experience. You deserve it! Alright, alright … you won’t be completely alone – but if anything, we’ll only help bring out the intimacy of the moment by asking you to take a deep breath together, share some sweet loving words, and exchange a few tender smooches. This is where magic happens.
4) PICTURE PERFECT
You want to look flawless on your Big Day, especially in the images, right? So let’s take gorgeous portraits while you look your best, before the sweat and disobedient “beach” hair. Before aunt Suz cries into your veil.
5) THOSE NERVES…
The #1 reason for keeping things traditional and optingout of the “First Look”: you want that magical once-in-a-lifetime moment of him seeing you walk down the aisle. Your groom dreams of this moment too: so much so, that he’s often opposed to breaking tradition for this one reason. However, the reality is this: the nerves often get the best of you both, and the walk down the aisle is a total blur. Honestly, we hear this all the time! Standing up there, in front of so many people, hot blinding sun in his face – it’s no joke! He likely isn’t thinking “wow, she looks so beautiful” … your sweet man is lucky if he’s remembering to breathe! After the “First Look,” you’ll both be saying “wow, I’m so glad we did this. I don’t feel as nervous going into the ceremony now!” So good.
6) NON-VOW VOWS & SURPRISES
This is your time to truly be yourselves; also to do something fun, unique & romantic, without an audience.Too shy or nervous to exchange personal vows at your actual ceremony? Say them to each other here, privately, from the heart. Alternatively, exchange cards, love letters, or gifts. You’ll make each other feel so special, and help each other focus on why you’re doing all of this in the first place: beginning a life together. Amazing portraits too.
7) CREATE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS
Seeing the Bride before the ceremony is bad luck? Yeah, NO. Did you know, this tradition started during times of arranged marriages; if the bride & groom hadn’t met or seen each other prior to the official union, there wasn’t a chance they would run for their life!! That’s a tad outdated, don’t you think? 🙂 I know your parents might give you a hard time, so just don’t tell anyone what you’re doing to avoid resistance. It’s your wedding day, do it your way.
8) CREATING ART
Please, take advantage of our creative talent! Making time for the “First Look” means that we can choose a beautiful location and create stunning portraits that you’ll want to hang on your wall / put into a Wedding Book. There are such gorgeous spots for photos all around your resort or venue, but things get so crazy after the ceremony, that pulling you away from the immediate area surrounding the cocktail hour is almost impossible (because it’s crunch time before it’s dark, remember?). Depending on how much time we have for the “First Look” (ideally 20-40 minutes), we can take a walk together around the property and co-create some really stunning, unique images.
9) TURQUOISE BLUE!
This is not a huge deal, but I’m a perfectionist and want you to be in the know! You’ve chosen to have your destination wedding in beautiful Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for the postcard beaches, right? I’m letting you in on a secret: the water looks bright turquoise only in the midday sun. After around 3 or 4 pm, it starts looking darker blue because the sun hits it from a different angle. Still very pretty, but if we are on the beach before the ceremony (around 3 pm), I’ll do my best to capture your stunning selves in front of those magical waters and pure white sand, which we would otherwise miss.
10) BRIDAL PARTY OR FOOTBALL TEAM?!
If you’re my Bride, you’ll be filling out a super fun detailed questionnaire, and I’ll want to know the size of your bridal party, because there’s a big difference in the flow of the day if you have just a few girlies with you as opposed to 8-12. I think 12 on each side was the most outrageous (ahem, fun!) number I had … that’s a lot of energy to harness, ok! If there’s quite a tribe standing up with you, consider doing an extended “First Look” so that the bridal party can meet us at a certain place and we can at least get the more ‘formal’ portraits with them out of the way. This will mean, you get to enjoy some cocktail hour and we’ll only have to take some fun candid-style pics with the whole group. Again, totally optional, but something to think about!
*** if I still haven’t convinced you, that’s totally fine! Before I give up, let me suggest an alternative … First Touch! It’s exactly what it sounds like … you get to connect without actually seeing each other (or at least your beloved won’t see your dress). If we can find a wall or some other kind of barrier, awesome! And if not, we can blindfold your sweet man. Amazing memories AND images!
Whatever you decide, just remember: you’re marrying your best friend on a gorgeous island. It’s going to be magic to matter what!
ALL MY LOVE,