ADVICE FROM WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
“WHAT IS A FIRST LOOK? SHOULD I DO ONE ON MY WEDDING DAY?“
This question comes up often during pre-wedding convos with our couples, and there isn’t a right or wrong answer. But, having been part of so many weddings has given us some insight to the benefits of doing a first look (and how to plan your wedding day timeline for efficiency if you choose *not* to do a first look.)
In case you aren’t aware, a first look is a private bit of time set aside for you and your partner to see each other for the first time on your wedding day. It usually takes place in a private or special location so you can soak in the moment alone together. As photographers, we like to guide you to your first look location, set you up to turn and face one another, and then step back to document your sweet reactions candidly. We’ll give you as much time as you’d like to be alone together and talk, documenting the moment from further away to give you some privacy. Afterwards, it’s really natural to transition into your portrait time together (about 20-30 minutes total).
VALUABLE BENEFITS TO CONSIDER
Tradition frowns upon first looks simply because of the old adage that it’s bad luck to see each other before the wedding ceremony. Personally, we don’t think that superstition should stop you from choosing to partake in a tradition or not. First looks have risen in popularity in recent years because so many couples see the incredible benefits to partaking in this modern (and meaningful) tradition. And on the flip side, we have come to realize that most couples who forego doing a first look choose to do so in order to maximize impact for their grand entrance down the aisle. We totally get that some brides dream of having a photo of their groom crying at the end of the aisle upon seeing them for the first time in their wedding dress… But TBH, this moment is pure magic regardless of whether or not you’ve already seen each other (especially if you consider yourself an emotional person!) In fact, we believe that having a first look can help alleviate the anxiety of this intense moment, helping you feel the full joy of the moment together. Doing a first look together does NOT mean there won’t still be big emotions and tears during the ceremony processional.
Also… This is an easily overlooked caveat, but waiting till the ceremony to see each other means you can’t actually react/talk/spend time together till the ceremony is over. So if you’re anxious about the ceremony, a first look will be helpful for that!
Something else to consider is that your first look may be your only true alone time together on your wedding day. Doing a first look means getting to spend your *entire* day together, as opposed to just the ceremony & reception. And from a logistical perspective, seeing each other before the ceremony also allows us to take all (or at least most) of the portraits and group photos before the ceremony begins. If anything, we might spend 20 minutes after the ceremony to wrap up any last minute family photos and some quick and easy dusky/sunset newlywed photos. In summary, doing a first look means getting to the reception faster after the ceremony, spending more time with your guests, and ultimately extending your day by several hours.
TIPS FOR PULLING OFF YOUR WEDDING DAY PORTRAITS WITHOUT A FIRST LOOK
As you can probably tell, we are big fans of first looks – but we fully support whichever route our couples choose to take. We recognize the draw to sticking to tradition and holding off on seeing each other until the ceremony, so if you are in the camp of NO first look, read on for some suggestions to ensure you’re making the most out of your wedding day timeline!
Even without a first look, there is still an option to take any separate photos before the ceremony begins (such as individual portraits, photos of each of you with your separate sides of the wedding party, and each of you with your immediate families). Going this route, you’ll just want to ensure there is ample time after the ceremony to finish up portraits that involve the two of you together. These typically include combined family photos, full wedding party group photos, and your (very important) portrait time with just the two of you. Your photographer should play a big role in helping plan the timeline to ensure portrait time is being used efficiently. We tell our “no first look” couples to allot at least one daylight hour for all of these photos after the ceremony, and to plan your ceremony time accordingly — if the sun has already set by the time your ceremony is over, that means that any post-ceremony photos will be have to be taken indoors/with a flash. For this reason, we always recommend planning for your ceremony to wrap up while the sun is still in the sky so we can utilize the beautiful natural light. We also recommend hosting a cocktail hour for your guests to keep them entertained while we finish up the post-ceremony photos.
Hopefully this blog post has given you some food for thought if you’ve been on the fence about doing a first look! As we said at the beginning, there is no right or wrong choice here — it’s entirely up to you and your partner’s personal preference. If you’re feeling anxious about wedding day nerves, or just nervous about portrait time cutting into your valuable time with guests, then a first look may be the best option for you. Part of our service to our couples is helping them figure out what options is best for them, and then creating a custom photography timeline that fits in perfectly with their wedding plans.
In summary, here are some of the benefits of doing a first look:
• enjoy the surprise of seeing each other for the first time freely
• potentially extend your day by 3 hours
• your only alone time on your wedding day
• helps to diminish nerves
Example weddings with a first look:
Example weddings without a first look:
If you’ve already gotten married, leave us a comment and let us know whether or not you did a first look (and why you made your decision!) And if you’re not married yet but considering “first look versus no first look,” let us know if you found this post helpful in the comments below!