The day before our wedding I awoke ready for a busy day to what had by now rather bizarrely become an unusual sight on our tropical Island: Sunshine. After days of rain we were given a glimmer of hope…maybe it would be just as beautiful the next day. The hope was soon dashed. News came to us that despite the currently absolutely idillic weather before us, overnight a storm was due to hit the Island. In fact apparently it would be the worst storm in 20 years and would rage for several days. This was a major blow and left us with a very important decision to make.
Dom is a wedding photographer, and for the past year one of the things I had heard her say more than anything else was how much she was looking forward to having her own wedding photographs to look at, to cherish and to experience that which she had seen so many of her brides experience when they first looked upon them; the joy of seeing those happiest of memories captured forever. The weather wouldn’t hugely affect our wedding and we weren’t bothered about braving the wind and rain, but it would mean that those epic pictures we had come all the way to La Palma to get would in all likelihood simply not be possible. The look on Dom’s face said everything that needed to be said: she was devastated.
It would not be a complete loss though, our photographer, Ed Peers had contacted us to let us know he was in La Palma and ready whenever we wanted for our scheduled engagement shoot. It wouldn’t be quite the same having most of our best photographs in our normal clothes but at least we would get something. It was another photographer, Dom’s brother Liam, who suggested another alternative…
Liam suggested that at the end of the engagement shoot we change into our actual wedding clothes and get some portraits taken in the beautiful light to ensure we got the pictures we really wanted. Liam’s solution certainly had merit but I have to say my immediate reaction was no. I knew immediately that Dom would want to go for it because the photographs were such an important thing to her but for me, whilst the photographs were still incredibly important, it was that moment of seeing her for the first time walking down the aisle toward me that had always been the part I had dreamt of.
Although we’ve long established that I knew very little about weddings until relatively recently, that was one moment I had always thought about. When I realised that I wanted to propose to Dom that was the moment I had imagined, that was the picture that I knew would stay in my memory whether I had a physical photograph or not. That was the moment I was going to have to give up if we decided to go ahead.
The moment would still physically happen, but surely I wouldn’t feel the same about it if I had already seen her in her dress, particularly a whole day before.
It was not an easy decision to make but Dom made it quite clear that it was my decision and mine alone. Sometimes weddings become all about the Bride but that particular moment did not belong to her; she had already seen my suit, she knew roughly how I would look and she had seen me in countless other suits before. That moment belongs to the groom. It doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but in truth I’m a traditionalist and it really was important to me.
The weather could be fine the next day and I could lose that moment for no reason. But if it wasn’t and we lost the opportunity to get the photos we’d always wanted would I ever forgive myself?
Whilst I considered the decision Dom contacted Ed to see whether it would even be possible. He was incredibly understanding and offered up as much time as was needed to get it right. He also suggested that we do the whole day in our wedding clothes to make the best of the situation and that, rather than just get changed and sort of see each other and then get some photographs we do a proper, dramatic “First Look”. He would pick me up and take me to a beautiful location where I would wait for my bride to arrive and then he would collect Dom and we would share a private moment seeing each other for the first time. I had seen this done for a few weddings in the US and, although it was not what I had ever imagined for us, the photographs had been very special.
The moment of walking down the aisle actually passes very quickly, and once you stand at last side by side the moment is gone in a heartbeat. The service begins and you’re not given the opportunity together to enjoy such a private moment. For Dom as a highly experienced wedding photographer she could see that a first look would give us so much more time to really feel the moment, but for the groom that doesn’t matter, that moment will stay with you forever. But the First Look seemed the best option in the circumstances and the one that ultimately would make my soon-to-be wife happy and so, reluctantly, I made the decision to go ahead.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Stay tuned for The First Look Part II where I will attempt to explain about just how a first look actually feels, taking the time to get those amazing shots and whether it was all worth the sacrifice!
All Images by Ed Peers Photography www.edpeers.com