A First Look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony on their wedding day. It is a term that has become more and more popular in wedding terminology, and it is a decision most couples have to make when discussing the timeline of the day with their wedding photographer. A lot of couples struggle with whether or not having a first look mainly because of tradition, and usually they do not know the background behind this tradition and the reasons why it was put in place.
In the past, the groom waited to see his bride until she was walking down the aisle; a tradition that originated with arranged marriages. In fact, the bride and groom did not see or meet before their wedding day at all so they wouldn’t have be able to back out once they saw what each other looked like. Crazy right!? I believe that is a couple’s personal decision whether or not to have a first look, and I also believe in educating and preparing my clients so that they can make the best decisions related to their wedding. Even though I waited to see my husband until I walked down the aisle 11 years ago, I wouldn’t have done so if someone would have taken the time to explain the real purpose behind this tradition, and the benefits of having a first look. Also, all I wanted to do when I walked down the aisle was to hug him, kiss him, tell him how much I loved him and how handsome he looked, ask him if he liked how I looked and just be together. Instead, all we got to do was hold hands and the ceremony began. Based on my experience as a past bride and as a photographer, I strongly believe having a first look is the best option for several reasons. Here are a few:
1. You get the chance to share a special private moment of connection between the two of you…
One thing any wedding vendor knows for a fact, is that a wedding day is hectic, especially after the ceremony, and most couples do not get to stop and talk to each other privately and share the emotions and feelings they are experiencing. Once you walk down the aisle every moment is very scheduled and sometimes even rehearsed. Every time that I shoot a First Look it’s so special because the bride and the groom get to express their feelings without all the guests present and looking which puts pressure on the couple. It is one of my favorite moments of the day because the moment is that special and the connection I get to capture is so real! After the First Look we usually take photos of the bride and groom during and after so that your couple portraits are out of the way. We also like to photograph the bridal party right after the First Look; that way the bridal party can get to enjoy the cocktail hour.
2. Enjoy more time…
You can get your formal photos out of the way before the ceremony. After the First Look, we usually take photos of the bride and groom so that your couple portraits are out of the way. We also like to photograph the bridal party and your family right after the First Look so that way the bridal party and your family can get to enjoy the cocktail hour. The bridal party and family can wait in transportation or meet the couple at the First Look location.
Below are two scenarios showing a schedule with and without a First Look…
Photography portrait schedule if you do a First Look:
– (2.5 hours before ceremony) First look then Bride & Groom portraits alone
– (1.5 hours before the ceremony) Bride & Groom portraits with bridal party
– (1 hour before the ceremony) Portraits with families
* You will be done with portraits approximately 30 min before the ceremony giving you time to freshen up and get ready to walk down the aisle.
Photography portrait schedule if you don’t do a First Look:
– (1 .5 hours before ceremony) Bride and Bridesmaids portraits
– (1 hour before ceremony) Groom and Groomsmen portraits
– (30 min. before the ceremony) Pause portraits to give you time to freshen up. At this time guest start to arrive.
– (Right after the ceremony) Family portraits
– (30 min. after ceremony) Bridal party portraits
– (1 hour after ceremony) Bride and Groom portraits alone
– (1.5 hours after ceremony) Done with portraits
3. You will be able to attend the cocktail hour…
One of the main concerns of couples that choose not to do a First Look is not being able to enjoy the cocktail hour and greet their guests, and that is a legitimate concern because most likely they will not be able to do so due to time restraints. When we do the majority of the photos before the ceremony, the schedule opens up more allowing you to attend some if not all of the cocktail hour to enjoy some time with your guests, bridal party, and family.
4. You will feel more relaxed and able to you enjoy the rest of your day and soak it all in…
One of the things I hear the most from my couples is that after the First Look their stress went away and that their nerves were gone for the ceremony. Like I mentioned before, a wedding day is very scheduled after the ceremony, and most couples do not get a chance to soak it all in by themselves. A First Look allows you to do that, and in addition, you will get beautiful photos of that special moment.
Those are my top reasons why I believe a First Look is the way to go based on my experience as a bride first and as a photographer; it is now up to you to balance the pros and the cons, and see if a First Look is right for you. If after balancing the options, you are not set on having a First Look, then make sure you communicate this to your photographer so that they can help you come up with the best wedding day timeline. As for myself, I go with what your wishes are, so if a couple decides they don’t want a First Look, I will help them come up with the ideal timeline that accommodates their wishes as best possible; after all it is your wedding and I am there to guide, support you, and capture all the beautiful moments of your union.
Talking about beautiful moments, here are some photos we have captured of our couples during their First Look…
I would love to hear your comments and questions in the comments section below!
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xo, Ly Sué