One of the biggest decisions you’ll be making on your wedding day is whether or not to have a first look. Today I’m going to break down the reasoning for both so you can make a decision that’s best for you! I’ll start with a quick overview, then break it down a little more.
When I would recommend a first look:
- You have one photographer
- Your timeline is tight between the Ceremony and Reception
- You have different locations for the Ceremony and Reception
- You want lots of couple photos together
- You have a large family and will need extra time for family photos
When a First Look Isn’t Necessary:
- You have two photographers
- You have a Post Wedding Session after your Wedding Day, ensuring you’ll have photos of the two of you together
- You do not have a wedding party
- There are not a lot of family photos to take
A first look is when a wedding couple plans to have a private moment where they will see each other before the wedding. Some couples wish this to be private, others would like it photographed. Eighty to ninety percent of my couples decide to have a first look.
Here are the benefits of having a first look:
More Couple Photos
Without a first look, the amount of time for couple photos is 10-15 minutes. With a first look, it is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Some couples use this time for photos, other couples use the extra time to enjoy the pre-reception with their guests.
Easier Family Photos:
Family photos can be a bit stressful! It’s a lot of people to round up in a very short amount of time, and usually everyones least favorite part of the wedding. They know it’s important, but it’s not nearly as much fun as the other festivities. When the photos are done before the wedding, everyone can go directly to the pre-reception after the ceremony and mingle and relax. Family members also look a little more fresh when photos are done beforehand because they have arrived dressed to the nines and haven’t spent time sitting in the sun for the ceremony.
Unless you have a second photographer, the timeline is easier when there is a first look. This is because the family and wedding party photos can be done at once, instead of having to take turns. Without a first look, chances are there will be downtime while the photographer is working with the other group.
Easier on the Nerves:
I’ve noticed that couples are always more relaxed after they see each other, whether it’s before the ceremony or after. Sometimes I have couples request a first look because they know they will be nervous if they do not have one beforehand.
It’s More Private:
The nice thing about a first look is, it’s a little more private. I personally decided not to wait to walk down the aisle because I’m a bit shy about that sort of thing and would have rather had this moment for my husband and I.
The other great thing about a first look is the photographer has full control over the moment and the lighting. They can set you in a place where they know the pictures will be great, and they can really capture this moment. When you’re walking down the aisle, sometimes this moment can be a little tricky for a photographer. We can’t always predict what guests will do and if they will jump into the aisle for a photo, and we do not have control over the lighting. To capture the grooms expression, I memorize the settings for when the bride walks down the aisle, switch my settings to what is needed for the groom (because the lighting is usually different), and then switch my settings back for the bride. It’s a quick moment, and it takes a seasoned pro to nail it.
Reasons For Waiting for the Aisle Walk
The biggest reason couples wait to go down the aisle is because of tradition. They’ve been imagining that aisle walk all their lives. 🙂
I have a lot of couples say they want the aisle to feel special, but I do have to chip in here and say that it doesn’t matter if you wait or have a first look, the aisle moment will be special because you are about to get married. 🙂 I had a first look and I can tell you first hand that it’s exciting no matter how the day goes.
Not That Into Photos:
Some couples don’t care to have a lot of couple photos together.
Blind First Look:
Sometimes I have couples request a blind first look. This is a scheduled and photographed time when you interact before the ceremony, but do not see each other. In my experience, blind first looks are sweet when there is a planned way to interact. Here are a few examples:
Write A Letter
Blind first looks are lovely when couples exchange and silently read a note they have written for each other. It gives them an opportunity to eloquently tell each other what is in their heart, and always makes for a sweet photo.
Have a Gift Exchange:
Exchanging gifts is a wonderful way to interact without seeing each other. Maggie gave Dave a customized viewfinder with images from some of their favorite memories. Dave gave Maggie a beautiful bracelet.
Say a Prayer:
Another beautiful way to carry out a blind first look, is to say a prayer together. It is a sweet way to connect and make the morning special, without actually seeing each other yet.
If you decide not to have a first look, then I would suggest one or both of these options to help your day run smoother:
If a couple is having two photographers at their wedding, the photographers can split up the timeline and get as many wedding party photos captured as they can before the ceremony. You’ll still need to get family photos with both of you and wedding party photos with everyone, but at least you will have most of your photos done. The couple photos will still be less, but there will be plenty of other images.
Post Wedding Photo Session:
If you are having a post wedding photo session in your wedding attire, then a first look isn’t necessary because there will be plenty of couple photos taken later.
I hope this has been helpful to you! If you are still on the fence, I would suggest emailing your photographer and asking to see a full wedding gallery with a first look and without. This way, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect your day will be like as far as photos go. Whatever you decide, just know that your day will be special no matter what. At the end of the day you will both be married, and that’s all that really matters. 🙂