First Look: pros, cons, and reasons to consider it!
Having a first look or not is usually a hot topic among couples, but learning more about the pros, the cons, and reasons why you should consider it will relax the conversation and perhaps persuade you to do it. During wedding consultations, I always ask them: “are you thinking of doing a first look?”, because whether they choose to do it or not, the timeline for the wedding day will look very, very different depending on their decision.
What is a First Look?
The First Look is the moment when the couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day but before the ceremony. I have had the fortune to photograph many first looks, but I also did one when Josh and I got married, and I have been in wedding parties with and without first looks, so I think I have a good perspective!
It’s an intimate moment just for you and your spouse-to-be: Maria posted on her instagram a picture of her first look with Justin and said “one of our most memorable, emotional and favorite moments from our big day”. During the first look, both of you will be full of excitment, anticipation and nervousness; so having this quiet moment for the two of you to share your last thoughts before the “I DO” is truly magical. Some couple give special gifts to each other during this time, or read special letters to each other, or even read their vows to each other. This is the perfect time to breath the day in and absorbe it all before it’s gone in a blink.
It’s probably the only alone time you’ll have on your wedding day: wedding days are hectic, busy, and sometimes even chaotic. How amazing it is to spend a few minutes with your spouse-to-be to share your love before getting married! I remember when Josh and I did it, and the feeling was incredible. We thought it would steal from the magic of seeing me “walking down the aisle”, but we were wrong! It actually doubled the excitement and it was a decision we were so glad we did!
You can choose to do it practially at any location: Amanda and Peter were getting married at her parent’s home, so they decided to have their first look at this park! Planning a first look gives you a lot of possibilities when it comes to a location. When my good friend was getting married she chose the grounds of a gorgeous library near Boston and her photos came out epic! Always check if you need a special permit at the location where you would like your first look if it’s not at your wedding venue.
You can get most of your couple’s portraits done right after: for me, as a photographer, it’s a logistical dream! We are able to get most of the portraits while the hair, make-up, and wedding attire is intact. When Marissa and Adam said they wanted portraits at the front of their venue, because their first look was earlier in the day, there were no cars in the driveway giving them a completely clear view of the gorgeous manor. And another plus… if we build enough time in the timeline, we can get most of the bridal party photos, too (and your bridal party will thank you!)
It eases your nerves: so many couples say their nerves went away after they saw each other! It helps you feel more relaxed and makes the ceremony more enjoyable. Plus, you’ll probably remember your ceremony better because you weren’t so nervous. The whole thing would probably be a blur otherwise!
You can enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests: if you choose not to do a first look, then you have to do all of your couple’s portraits, bridal party and family formals during your cocktail hour, which takes you away from all the fun you planned for the day! From my bridesmaid experience, I know it’s hard to be away from all the fun, thrirsty and probably hungry, while taking all bridal photos after the ceremony. If a first look is planned with enough time, the bridal party is usually excited to hear me say “all set guys! go get a drink!” and then when we are done with family formals after the ceremony, you two can also go and enjoy that time with your guests!
You’ll get more photos in your gallery: being able to do most of the portraits before the ceremony means less rushed photos after the ceremony! We can take the time to get beautiful photos of the two of you when you are relaxed and refreshed, and you will enjoy those much more because we’re not going to be trying to squeeze “one more” before it’s time to go back to your reception.
You need to get ready earlier: a realistic timeline has the first look happening 2-3 hours before the ceremony, so if your ceremony is at 5 pm, that means we have to plan for the first look around 2 or 2:30, which also means you need to be ready before that! The upside of this is that make-up artists and hairdressers that specialize in weddings know how to make their art last. Also, they usually give you a touch-up kit, so I always make sure to give my brides 20-30 min before the ceremony to go retouch their make-up.
The light may be challenging: first looks usually happen a few hours before the ceremony, usually during a time when the sunlight is harsh. I always ask my couples if they have a preferred location for the first look, but I also give my honest suggestion about the best location for it, light-wise. I want to make sure the light is flattering for you both, and I take my time before I start the day to find the best possible location for it.
You may feel is not traditional: many couples are discouraged from doing a first look because they feel it will take away the magic from seeing their spouse-to-be walking down the aisle, and I understand that. However, based on my own personal experience and the experiences of my brides, I feel that the pros outweigh the cons, and I have seen couples getting emotional during the first look, and again during the ceremony like if it was the first time seeing each other!
Although I love first looks so much on a wedding day, I also always encourage my couples to do whatever they want to do. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, and what you prefer matters the absolute most! So although I love it so much, I do want your day to go however you envision. This is just meant to help you decide whether it’s right for you, and why I recommend it so much!
A lot of people ask me how they can make their engagement portraits feel elevated. And after helping my couples prepare for their session, I have discovered some helpful tips to take your engagement session to the next level! Grab your free guide and feel like million bucks!