One of the first discussions I have with a couple before their wedding is whether or not they want to do a first look. This choice affects the timeline of the day quite a bit, so it’s best if I know up front what a couple wants to do.
For some couples, deciding whether or not to do a first look is an easy decision. For others, not so much. Usually it comes down to tradition and either not wanting to break the tradition of a groom not seeing his bride before a wedding or simply not being concerned with that tradition at all.
But for those still in the undecided boat, my main piece of advice boils down to “do you.” I cannot make this decision for you. No one can! I can, however, layout the benefits of doing a first look as I see them after having shot many weddings over many years. You can then take this information and discuss it with your partner and come to a mutual decision together. I let everyone know that I have timeline guides for wedding days with and without a first look and that we can make absolutely anything work.
And so, let's go over the benefits of doing a first look at your wedding.
1. Calming those pre-wedding jitters.
Your wedding day is a culmination of many months of planning and anticipation. Most couples don’t realize just how nervous they’ll be on their wedding day. More than likely, you’ll be a nervous wreck! And not seeing each other before the wedding is just another stressor that exists purely for tradition. When you do a first look and see your love, all that anxiety and nervousness will vanish. Because let’s be honest, no one calms you down and centers you quite like the love of your life. They’ve got the magic touch. And after you see each other, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of your wedding day.
2. It’s just the two of you.
There is something extra special and intimate about sharing the first moment you see each other without all eyes on you. There will most certainly be tears of love and joy. You’ll get to whisper sweet nothings to each other, hug, kiss, and just melt into each others arms, breathing and taking in the moment. It will be a quiet, loving, exceptionally intimate few minutes for just the two of you. And your photographer(s), who I promise you will not notice, will be there to capture it all from all angles. No distractions, no reason to hold back your real emotions - just the two of you.
3. It doesn’t dull the magic of seeing you walking down the aisle.
Walking down the aisle won’t be any less special because you've seen each other beforehand. It's one of the most special moments of your entire life and nothing will change that. When you walk down the aisle, your groom won’t be thinking "meh, I've seen this before, yawwwwwwn." He’ll be beaming at how beautiful you look, riding the high of that moment and the moment you just shared. The first look will just be an added bonus onto this moment. A special, deeply intimate time you wouldn't have otherwise had on your wedding day.
4. MAJOR stress reduction.
Okay, let’s get to the logistical benefits of doing a first look. From a practical perspective, a first look allows you to do wedding party formals AND family formals before the wedding ceremony. Doing these pre-ceremony is the least stressful and most joyful way to go about it. (Also grandma and grandpa will feel very special getting to see the bride and groom before everyone else!) The last thing you’ll want to do after you’ve said your “I do’s” is stand for an hour or two with varying groups of friends and family, holding a smile. When there is no first look, the cocktail hour and the start of the reception is usually the time that formal portraits are taken. So unless you plan a 2 hour gap between end of ceremony and start of cocktail hour, you will be missing that entirely. It’s a bummer, I promise.
5. ll you have to do after the “I do’s” is party!
With all the work of formals done and out of the way before the ceremony, there is no more “work” for you to do! You can simply enjoy the rest of your night and see it all exactly as you planned it! That cocktail hour you put so much time and love into perfecting? You get to be there! And you won’t miss a second of your beautiful reception either. You’ll get to take in every detail and every smile on your guests faces as they ooh and aww over how beautiful the ceremony was and how much fun they’re having. After the "I do's" it's blissful partying and enjoyment with no interruptions. As a photographer, I will simply be capturing the rest of your day as it unfolds.
As you might have figured out, I am personally pro-first looks. Honestly, this almost entirely for logistical reasons. Personally, I don't care either way what a couple wants to do as long as they are happy with their decision! And I tell every single couple I work with - whatever you want, I will make work. There is no wrong choice! Really, I promise. You can’t choose wrong as long as you stay true to what you and your fiancé want for your wedding day. And if you meet resistance to what you want from your photographer, or any other vendor - I’d gently advise you to rethink your decision! After all, we’re here for you!
After reading the 5 reasons to do a first look, what would you decide?