Breaking tradition. Creating your own.

Written with love, by Kim Durham

I’ve been married for almost 15 years.  And photography and traditions have long since changed over the years. Back in 1999 when I married my love, “the first look” wasn’t something that was even thought wasn’t even a question! Tradition was, he sees me for the first time walking down the aisle. And that’s, that. 

I was a bride who waited. Not because I had a choice, but because I didn't know any other way. While I love my moment with my husband all those years ago, hearing how he felt like he was going to fall over because his knees were knocking, given the chance to have a do over today, I would see him before the wedding. I would want to hear what he was thinking right in that moment, and I would want to remember the look on my moms face rather than being so nervous and seeing things through huge tearful eyes.  

The question I get the most is: “What is the first look and how does it work? And what are the advantages of doing that rather than waiting?"

The first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the wedding. We find a private place away from the hustle and bustle of what’s going on around us, and let you and your groom see each other while we are capturing the moment unobtrusively and without interruption, giving the Bride & Groom private time to get all the butterflies and anxiousness out of the way. 

Image your self walking down the aisle. Image yourself being able to be completely immersed in that moment with your groom. Being able to look around the room and see the excitement on your grooms face. Seeing the tiny tears that begin to well up in your mom's eyes. Feeling the heartbeat of your dad's in sync with yours as you are walking hand in hand to your future. Feeling every possible feeling you can soak in because the nerves  were whisked away earlier in the day. 

When you do the first look, some brides may feel like they are taking away from the tradition, but when you allow yourself to see it differently, it becomes something different and special.  When you wait to see your groom at the ceremony sometimes the first time you get alone time with him is up to an hour after the ceremony due to family pictures and bridal party pictures. So being able to say sweet nothings to each other are often pushed aside because you don’t have the time.  The first look gives you those moments to whisper to each other.  Take each other in.  Breathe in a few moments of life as it’s happening around you because you aren’t being pressured or watched by hundreds of people.  It then offers a closeness and different type of intimacy during the ceremony. 

Emotions on high!

We personally feel that when you are alone without a crowded room full of people watching you the emotions tend to run higher.  It’s no secret that guys give each other a hard time for crying - or being emotional at all!  When he turns around and sees you for the first time he can actually verbalize what he’s feeling. He can speak to you, embrace you, kiss you.  All the things you CAN'T do at the alter. There’s no waiting half an hour later after you shock him with your amazing beauty for him to react.
When you opt for the first look, you can just be yourself around each other.  You can let go of any emotions you have without everyone staring at you. 

Time Constraints

When you choose the first look time isn’t of the essence.  We aren’t in a hurry to rush through the portraits and get to your introduction and reception. The first look can take as much time as you want.  It's like getting a personal portrait session inside of your actual wedding.  The first half of your wedding day is filled with portraits of you two and this might also be one of the only times you’ll be alone until after the guests have left and you are off to your honeymoon. 


The first look let's you relax those nerves! We have a split amount of brides and grooms who chose the first look and most the time when it’s not chosen,  it’s because they weren’t told about in detail what the first look really was.  We get so many emails after the wedding from our couples who explain how much they were relaxed after being able to embrace each other.  The rest of the day flowed together just as it had been dreamed of.  

We have testimonial after testimonial from our couples who chose to see one another - one of our Brides, Jessica W, recently told us that her favorite part of the first look was feeling his heart beat with anticipation as she held him.  You don’t get that at the alter.  As much as we can plan out our perfect day, bridesmaids run late, groomsmen get lost in traffic, and the schedule gets thrown off.  A moment alone with your groom might be just the thing you need to calm your nerves and bring you assurance to an otherwise crazy day.

Straight from the Bride

"Having grounded ourselves with this intimate time together, my love and I were able to fully appreciate the magnitude, beauty and gift of what was about to take place.  We came together as best friends and confidants, lovers and partners-in-crime, a protector and a soft place to fall - and emerged on the other side of First Look with smiles instead of tears, ready to joyously meet head-on the first step of our Happily Ever After.” Jilana J

"All I wanted to do was see my best friend before walking down the aisle. The moment felt like time was standing still, in a crazy hectic day, and it was special because it was just us. It allowed us both to let down our guard down, cry, and express our feelings without the whole world watching.” Taylor L.

Does the first look create some awesome memories that you might not otherwise get? Of course!! Does it improve the flow of your wedding day? Yes! Does it allow the day to unfold in a more relaxing state? Absolutely.  Is this first look for everyone? No. Only the Bride and Groom can decide what’s right for them.  As one of our brides Kelley recently told told, "I firmly believe that this is a decision that a couple should make on their own, without guidance from others. But I feel strongly that this should also be a decision that isn't made in a matter of minutes or hours, but over a period of time with your loved one."

It’s a definite break from the tradition and one that we feel is important.  It offers photographers the opportunity to capture events that might otherwise be missed.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll miss out on all the excitement and anticipation of him seeing you for the first time at the ceremony.  In fact, it's the exact opposite.  Your mind will be clear and ready to soak up in detail the moments happening around you.  That's what you’ll remember.  You’ll look back in 15 years and remember the tear as it fell from your mom's eyes.  The grandmother who’s since been gone, hands resting on your grandfather's leg. The smile on your dad's face.  The love and emotions coming from the crowd as you make your way to your groom.  The look on his face.  The embrace of his hands.  

Breaking tradition. Creating your own.    

Kim Durham Photography

My style is completely laid back and relaxed. I love to have fun with my clients and I believe that your session should be fun and spontaneous. I shoot entirely on location with available light and my favorite shoot time is when the sun is just beginning to set, or early in the morning when it first rises - the light that God gives us then is incredible!

I grew up in a tiny town in Northwest Arkansas where everyone knows everyone. Going to football games on Friday nights was just like walking into family dinner on Sunday after church. The love our town has for one another is indicative of the people who reside here. I've had a camera in my hands since before I can remember and have always been fascinated with photography, pictures, and people. I have a love for people, and being around them, making new friends, and laughing a lot.

I lover my life. I lover my family and friends. I lover God. And I lover being a photographer.