As a wedding photographer, I often get asked by couples, “Should I do a first look?” And while the decision is ultimately up to the couple, I am a huge fan of first looks! I find that weddings with a first look tend to go smoother and with less stress. Doing a first look can help ease the stress of the big day, and let you have more time with your partner on your wedding day. A wedding day is such a whirlwind, that a first look lets you get some intimate alone time with your partner, before all of your family and friends surround you!
A first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. Often times, couples think they have to wait until the walk down the aisle to see each other. Now, first looks are becoming more and more popular! Normally a first look is also a private time, with just the couple and photographer. One partner is often staged in a location, and the other partner walks up behind.
Having a first look can help with your timeline. If you do a first look, you can get more of your pictures done before the ceremony. Normally if you opt to not do a first look, you have to get all of your portraits, including bridal party and family, done during the 1 hour (or less!) cocktail hour. This can be incredibly stressful since there is not much time to get everything done.
If you do your first look before, you can take all of your couple portraits, bridal party portraits, and even some of your family portraits before! This gives you time to enjoy your cocktail hour, and be with your guests. It can also ease the stress of a tight timeline, in case the ceremony goes late. A later ceremony can cut into the cocktail hour, which cuts into your picture taking time.
Another key thing to keep in mind is the time of day of your wedding. If you are having a winter wedding or an evening wedding, there may not be any sunlight by the time cocktail hour arrives, which means you will not be able to have portraits taken with natural light.
Your wedding day is one filled with so much emotion! When you do a first look, you are able to get some quiet time with your partner before the craziness of the day begins! Taking time to see each other before lets you have a few minutes of alone time, so you can get out all of the wedding day jitters. It can help couples feel much more relaxed, both in front of, and behind the camera. I often find that couple who do a first look are much more playful during their photos since the nerves are gone! And shooting a more relaxed couple always leads to more authentic photos.
Doing a first look lets you get pictures earlier in the day, when your hair and makeup is fresh. It also gives you time to touch up your makeup after (in case you cry!). It also gives you two some alone, to focus on each other, and away from family and friends. As a photographer, it gives me more time to get portraits of the couple, which are some of the most important pictures you get on your wedding day.
You can also have your first look portraits in a different location than the wedding. If you wait until the cocktail hour, you often have to do it at your ceremony site. But if you do it before, you could have a different backdrop. Maybe you have dreamed of getting portraits in Forsyth Park, but are getting married on River Street? A first look lets you have your beautiful Forsyth Park portraits! You don’t have to worry about traveling to your dream location in such a short time period, you can have them done beforehand instead!
As a wedding photographer, I shoot weddings both with and without a first look. So while the final decision is ultimately up to the couple, just know that whether or not you choose to do a first look, your walk down the aisle will be special no matter what!