When we first sit down with a couple to talk about their wedding timeline, one of the topics we discuss is the first look. We have seen people passionate about both sides of the first look debate. Some brides would rather see their significant other’s reaction as they take those first steps down the aisle. Others are excited about having a first look before all the excitement of the day. However, there are also many couples who haven’t decided one way or the other when we start building the timeline of the day.
But let me assure you, there’s no right or wrong answer. I don’t feel like one way of doing it is “better” than the other, and you’re not making a bad decision by going either way. We want to help you make the decision that is best for you and your day. Here are a few points to consider when deciding if a first look is right for you.
I genuinely love taking these photos, as they are an incredibly important way to preserve family memories for years to come – but they aren’t always as quick and easy as you might hope. On most wedding days, family formal photos are usually taken directly after the ceremony. Finding each of your immediate family members can be tough right after your ceremony has ended, especially when they are mixed in and mingling with the crowd of guests. If your ceremony is at a venue rather than a church, the cocktail hour that just started in the next room over is also a common cause for disappearing family members! With a first look earlier in the day, your family portraits can be done before the ceremony, making it much easier to get everyone together. That way, there’s no need to wonder what happened to Uncle Bob when you can’t find him after the ceremony has ended!
As great as being together as a family can be, these family photographs can be surprisingly stressful, especially when there is a long shot list that involves multiple layers of extended families. The biggest piece of advice that we could give to any couple getting married (first look or not), is to keep their family photo shot list as minimal as possible. We would usually recommend photographing groupings of immediate family during this time and to take any other photos of extended family during the reception, or at any other point throughout the day.
Bottom line: taking your formal family shots before there’s a huge crowd saves time and reduces stress. What makes it even better is that everyone still has fresh hair and makeup. Plus, instead of going right into family photos directly after your ceremony, you can run off and just enjoy being married for a few minutes. I could write an entire blog post about family photos, but we’ll pick back up on that at another time.
Just the two of you
A first look can allow you to go somewhere different. Whether you go to a secluded area at the venue or a different location near your ceremony location, finding a unique place for your first look can give additional variety to the pictures of your special day. Those private moments as you see each other for the first time often transition into taking creative portraits. With no one around, and no commentary from the parents or bridal party, couples tend to feel more relaxed. The moment belongs just to the two of them. They can cry, kiss, laugh and just be alone together with the camera. There is no need to hold anything back and pictures capture so much love and intimacy in those moments of togetherness.
An added bonus is that with how crazy a wedding day is, you and your significant other don’t get to spend a lot of time together alone. This allows you to have some private time together that isn’t on display. Take a breath, together and enjoy the moment.
Timing is everything
Sometimes a first look just makes sense for the timeline of your day. If you aren’t able to set aside the time for creative portraits between your ceremony and reception, you’re forced to choose between a first look and attending your cocktail hour.
On the other hand, there are also times when a first look just doesn’t fit into the schedule the day with timing. Also, if a bride and groom are getting ready in locations that are both out of the way from each other and in opposite directions from their ceremony location, it might not make sense to try doing a first look.
Remember that during some times of year (especially between late October and early April), the lack of sunlight that will be available can eliminate the ability to take creative portraits after an evening ceremony. Depending on the expected temperature, daylight savings, and the amount of available sunlight after your ceremony, it might be best to strongly consider if a first look would be beneficial.
Here comes the bride
On the other side of the coin is the traditional moment of seeing each other for the first time as the bride walks down the aisle. Having a first look doesn’t appeal to everybody and some brides would rather just wait until their ceremony for the big reveal. There is something amazing about that moment, when your eyes lock in front of the people who mean the most to you. Brides have said that time seems to slow down.
But here’s another thing to keep in mind: that moment is not diminished by a first look. Many brides have told us that they still felt all the same emotions as they saw each other right before their “I do’s.” It is a beautiful moment and it will not be lost if you decide to have a first look.
If a first look isn’t your style, or If you consider it bad luck to see each other before the ceremony (which is totally fine) there are some other interesting options for you to maximize the time before your ceremony.
You might consider:
- A father-daughter first look
- A parents of the bride first look
- Portraits of the Bride and her bridesmaids and the Groom with his groomsmen
Whatever you decide, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to work with you to build a timeline that fits your photography desires. First look or not, your wedding will be a wonderful day and we will craft a customized solution based on your venue and your needs.