Before every wedding that I photograph, I prepare and review a timeline of the day with the couple. One of the first questions I ask is whether or not they plan on doing a first look. Whether you do a first look, or if you choose to stick with the traditional route, will greatly dictate how the day will go from a photography standpoint. In my experience a couple that does a first look ends up with more photos of the two of them together. It is simple math, really. By doing a first look, you are granted more time together, and that results in more photos of the two of you. As the photographer, I am focused on getting you as many beautiful images from your wedding day in the way that you desire. Therefore, if photos of the two of you together is really important, then I would suggest doing a first look on your wedding day. I would like to emphasize that I do still appreciate the traditional approach where the couple does not see each other until walking down the aisle. The logistics for that day are just a bit different. That is why I am sharing the 6 reasons for doing a first look on your wedding day, based on my experience as a wedding photographer, in hopes you will feel even more confident whichever way you choose to run your day.
What is a Wedding Day First Look?
Traditionally, the couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day as they walk down the aisle. However, more and more couples are opting to see each other before the ceremony and do a “first look” before the vows. There are many different ways to coordinate a first look and your photographer can (and should) help guide you to a proper location as well as coordinate that first look moment.
6 Reasons for Doing a First Look on your Wedding Day
Like I mentioned above, I may be a bit biased in regards to this topic as couples who do first looks afford themselves a bit more time together for portraits, but I do completely understand (and honor) a couple’s decision to go the traditional route on their wedding day. In fact, I can give reasons why you may not want to do a first look. However, based on my experience as a wedding photographer, here are 6 reasons for doing a first look on your wedding day:
1. You spend a greater portion of your wedding day together
By doing a first look before the ceremony, you end up spending a greater portion of your wedding day together. You get to tell each other how much you love one another more often and it can help to calm those anxious nerves you may be feeling before walking down the aisle. In going the traditional route, often times the couple does not get more than a few minutes alone to celebrate this momentous time as after the ceremony they are whisked away for photos and then begin celebrating with their guests at the reception.
2. You get more time with your photographer for portraits
There is never enough time on a wedding day, and it will go by fast regardless, but the time before a ceremony is always much more plentiful and offers less distractions. After a first look, your photographer will then be able to complete the portraits of the two of you and also your entire wedding party and can do so before the ceremony begins. If you would like to take photos in multiple locations, doing so before the ceremony is much more possible since there is more time to do so. Then, after the ceremony is over, all that is needed are photos with the full family (with those members that may not have been getting ready with you before the ceremony as the wedding party was). If you go the traditional route, you will need to fit in all the family photos, wedding party photos, and portraits of just the two of you before you head to the reception. Keep in mind that once the ceremony is over and you have said your “I Dos”, your guests are going to want to hug you, congratulate you, and get to celebrating. Sometimes it can be hard to step away!
3. You get more time with your guests
As I mentioned above, your guests arrived for the ceremony, witnessed your vows, and will then want to celebrate with you. Traditionally speaking, most guests do understand that after the ceremony there may be a lag of time while the couple is away taking photos. However, by doing a first looking on your wedding day, you can get to hugging those grandmas sooner rather than later.
4. You can enjoy the cocktail hour
More often that not, if you go the traditional route, there will simply not be enough time to complete all of the portraits after the ceremony and also for you to enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests. Of course, the choice is yours and even if you go the traditional route you can tell your photographer that you would rather be at the cocktail hour than taking photos. It is all about give and take, however. Giving yourself time at the cocktail hour does take away time from creating the portraits the two of you may want to hang on your wall. By doing a first look on your wedding day, you really can have the best of both worlds. You will have created magical wedding day portraits with your photographer before the ceremony and therefore have the time to spare for your cocktail hour. Your wedding party may also thank you as they too will be able to enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests.
5. A first look allows for more time which equates to less stress overall
As mentioned in the points above, by doing a first look on your wedding day, you get to spend more time together. It also creates additional time for yourselves to get portraits completed. By giving yourself more time together you can spread things out over the day a bit more, it allows for more wiggle room in case of delays, and therefore equates to less stress overall.
6. Hair, makeup, and attire will still be fresh
Let’s face it, you are going to cry on your wedding day and most likely during the vows. If it is a hot summer day, you will also sweat. Or, it may be a super windy day. When it comes to your hair and makeup the elements of tears, sweat, and wind are not on your side. You may also sit while waiting for the ceremony to begin which can cause wrinkles in your attire. Or you decide to eat gooey pizza for lunch (this girl loves her carbs, so no judgement here) and you end up with an unsightly stain. By going straight from getting your hair and makeup done, to putting on your attire, to then taking first look photos, you are going to look the freshest possible in the images you may one day show your grandchildren.