Deciding whether or not a First Look is right for you and your boo can be such a tough choice. So many couples, in my experience, opt out of doing a First Look without truly understanding what it fully entails. The benefits go far beyond smooching your almost-hubby sooner than normal and being all non-traditional. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter, not to dissuade those who are set on an aisle-only look, but rather help brides and grooms who are on the fence about this decision. Before you write them off, let me shed some light on why a First Look can be a great addition to your entire wedding day!
Here are 4 aspects of your wedding day that will benefit from incorporating a First Look:
1 – YOUR PORTRAITS
When you have a First Look in your wedding timeline, this allows for ALL of your portraits to take place before the ceremony. After you and your groom have seen each other, it’s basically game-on for getting those portraits knocked out before you say “I do.” This could be every single portrait your heart desires, or pick and choose! You have complete freedom and aren’t held back by the fact that you can’t let the groom see you just yet.
Taking your portraits before the ceremony also means you’re getting out ahead of the distractions. There are no wandering guests on location yet (beware some WILL show up 1.5 hours early though), your stomach isn’t growling for dinner yet and you JUST got your hair and make-up did (yes did), so you and your bridal party are feeling good, energized and ready to smize.
It’s safe to say that if you incorporate a First Look and you leave ample room in the timeline for portraits, you’ll get more of these photos too. Logistically, there are just more hours to work with before the ceremony for photos than if you try to schedule them in between the ceremony and reception. I truly believe not having that pressure and desire to get to your waiting friends and fam helps free your mind up to fully enjoy your portraits!
2 – YOUR GUESTS
It would be the saddest thing ever to invite all your favorite people to your wedding, only to not spend as much time with them as you wanted. One way to plan for maximizing the time you have with your special guests is to cut down on that time you’re absent from them – in between the ceremony and the reception. Yes, you can also make sure your reception is long enough, but as the night goes on, the crowd will inevitably dwindle down. You may also be working with the venue’s cut-off time. Planning to get into the reception as early as you can is the best way to be sure you’ll have enough time with your guests.
Most couples are already MIA for quite a while between the ceremony and reception. But when you have a First Look, there’s not nearly as much left to do between the ceremony and reception, since you can move just about all your portraits to before the ceremony! The two things we encourage our couples to leave space for directly after the ceremony is family photos (with those who weren’t there before the ceremony) and eating privately together. You’d be amazed how little you eat at your own reception, so sit down with your groom before making your grand entrance and eat a dang taco.
3 – YOUR CEREMONY
The main reason I hear that couples want to stick with doing only an aisle look is either because it’s tradition to wait or because they fear a First Look could take away from the aisle look. I would say though, that incorporating a First Look only ADDS to the emotion and excitement of your aisle look. You just got to spend alone time together during the First Look — laughing, crying, gushing over how amazing you both look and feel, and talking about this huge step you’re about to take together. You now get to live out what it’s all been about, in front of everyone. It’s still just as priceless and unforgettable, whether you’ve already kissed each others faces beforehand or not.
Also when you’re the one walking down the aisle, it’s as if time stands still. BUT that aisle walk is actually a very quick moment that happens in real time, with a lot of moving pieces. Photographers can be limited by the tight space, guests + their iPhones, lighting, any venue restrictions and short time frame. There are no do-overs when it comes to aisle looks! Even the most experienced, well-prepared photographer can’t anticipate who will be the uncle to stick their iPad right out in front of them. Capturing another “look” simply means you’ll have more beautiful photos of you two together, that are uninterrupted and just as sweet.
4 – YOUR FOCUS
Those wedding day jitters are real and they usually revolve around the anticipation of your ceremony happening. Yeah, you’re getting married to the love your life – easy breezy, but you’re also going to have an audience – hundreds of people with all eyes on you. The thought of that sends many a future-spouse into sweatiness and anxiousness. Take other stresses of the big day that may be present and “wait, why didn’t we elope again?” may cross your mind a few times. Planning for a First Look can be a huge relief to all of the above. This whole entire day is about a person who you are not allowed to see for the majority of the day! (Something about that is hilarious.) Getting that First Look in gives couples a much needed moment together to shift their focus back on each other, calm their nerves and reflect on why this is all going down to begin with.
I’ve witnessed a positive mental change happen with so many couples after doing a First Look. To have a quiet, intimate moment with each other amidst all the chaos is like a weight lifted. It is a treasured time together that helps you reset and reflect as you step into the rest of your wedding day. They’re completely different than aisle looks too, and I love when couples treat it that way. A First Look is your chance to get creative and make this moment happen however you dream up! Additional vow exchanging, swapping gifts, reading letters, dancing to your First Dance – these are all beautiful things to incorporate and make the First Look its own extra-special time.
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I love how unique each couple and their wedding is, and how they bring their own perspectives to this decision. Think about how you both would best enjoy the day, look at your timeline and ask yourself if/how a First Look could help the flow of things, and think about the photos you are most looking forward to receiving. The best route to take is the one you decide on together, and remember not to take any of it too seriously. Your wedding is a celebration, and regardless of whether you do or don’t do a First Look, you’ll be MARRIED at the end of the day! Hashtag yay.
Still feel stuck? You got this! I’m happy to talk through this and any other wedding photography related decisions with you! Visit the contact section or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.