The First Look Guide
A first look is an intimate and planned part of the wedding day where the couple see each other for the first time on the wedding day, where they share the only private moment before the wedding day ensues. A first look is not mandatory, or right for every couple, but highly recommended (especially by me, since I of course am biased and prioritize your photography). With over eight years of photographing weddings, I can definitely see the wedding days of couples who choose to do a first look run smoother, more stress free, and enjoy more photographs. Couples who choose not to do a first look usually decide based on tradition or fear that the reaction and moment coming down the aisle wont be the same. The first look and moments coming down the aisle are two very different moments and its amazing when couples get to experience them both.
Why you should do a first look
1. It's calming
Seeing each other before the ceremony takes away all the tension and nerves that have been building up. Even for those who don't think they will feel stressed, or are incredibly laid-back, when the day rolls around there is always a little build up of stress (Maybe you forgot to wear your lucky socks). The First Look allows you to get out all those jitters, enjoy your partner, and be present in your ceremony. Instead of trying to take in every detail while guests are watching your every move walking down the aisle, you've already had time to truly take in your partner on this momentous day, see all the details they are wearing you worked so hard to plan, and find confidence and calmness in one another.
2. You have more photo opportunities
Seeing one another before the ceremony allows us extra flexibility and time together which means more photo opportunities to create those romantic shots you love. The first look allows us an extra 30 minutes together focusing on only the two of you and allows for many extra photo opportunities that we typically don't have time for later on when we need to focus on the family and bridal party photographs as well. This also gives us more un-rushed time for all formal portraits.
3. You have intimate time together on your wedding day
Wedding days go by fast, its true! Most of the day is spent surrounded by your amazing friends and family, but a first look allows time for just the two of you, alone, without friends and family, without the wedding planner, and without rushing. Unlike coming down the aisle, you can embrace, kiss, hug, talk, cry, and laugh all while having the tender moments documented at a distance and in private. Couples are usually in a much more romantic mood (which is perfect for photos) during this private time and creates some of the most beautiful moments.
4. You can enjoy cocktail hour
The first look allows us to take all the formal portraits, including bridal party and family photos before the ceremony and out of the way so after the ceremony you and your closest friends and family members can glide into the cocktail hour, listen to the band, relax, and celebrate. Otherwise, the bridal party and family photos take a minimum of 1 hour and are done immediately after the ceremony. At this time we usually feel a little rushed since everyone wants to enjoy cocktail hour.
A first look allows flexibility and timing to create the wedding day schedule of your dreams. Weddings days with a first look are less rushed and have more time and ability to handle any unpredicted surprises that might arise (Uncle Joe got a flat and is running 20 minutes late!) The first look also allows for the couple portraits, and formal bridal party and family photos, to be outside in daylight. In the months of less daylight this is key in ensuring we are able to capture all the photos you want in the best light.
Thinking about other first looks?
Yes! You can absolutely do other first looks with key family members or friends and you can certainly do more than one first look on your wedding day. Here are a few combinations I have photographed with past clients.
Father & Daughter First Look
Bride/Partner & Bridesmaids First Look
Bride/PArtner + Grandmother First Look
My clients are NOT required to do a first look and I completely respect each couples wishes and traditions, but for those who are on the fence, I want to share the benefits of a first look to shed some insight on what can be a confusing wedding term.