Wedding season is just around the corner and is about to be in full swing— and I couldn’t be more excited! Something that I offer with all of my brides and grooms is help creating a day-of timeline for their wedding day! With that often comes the decision of whether the couple wants to have a more traditional timeline or to have a first look timeline.
You may have already heard of a first look, or even seen photos of them on my blog or around the internet, but in case you haven’t it’s when a bride and groom decide to see each other before the ceremony. In traditional timelines, the groom usually first sees the bride when she’s walking down the aisle and it’s been said to be, “bad luck,” if they see each other before then.
Sometimes it’s a difficult decision as to whether or not to have a first look. From a photographer’s perspective, and having been a bride myself, I am personally a huge fan of first looks! My husband and I decided to do a first look for our own wedding and it was the best decision. Definitely have never regretted it! With wedding season around the corner, I thought I’d share my top 5 reasons to why you should consider having a first look on your wedding day!
Reason #1: It’s a sweet, intimate, moment just between the two of you, and documented by your photographer.
It is absolutely true when people say that your wedding day will fly by in the blink of an eye! With all of the planning, last minute preparations, people running around the venue, and rushing to get ready, it’s really nice to have a moment for just the two of you to be together to just breathe. This gives you guys a private moment before the ceremony to hug, give each other a kiss, maybe share some private vows and to allow the emotions to really develop.
I’ve always heard brides say that they feel that a first look will ruin the emotional moment of the groom seeing them for the first time. In my experience, when my husband and I had our first look, we were giddy and excited! When I walked down the aisle, however, I ended up crying my eyes out seeing Andrew at the end of the aisle waiting for me and was even more emotional, even though we had already seen each other.
Reason #2: It’s less pressure on you two at the front of the aisle in front of everyone.
Kind of going along with Reason #1, if you do a first look on you wedding day it can often decrease the pressure or nerves that you may have at the altar on your wedding day. Being in front of all of your friends and family can often seem scary or nerve wracking if you’re someone who is not usually comfortable being in front of large groups of people. Having all of those eyes on the two of you can get a little crazy! First looks allow you guys to relax and share your emotions together in privacy, so that whenever you’re in front of the crowd, it’s smooth sailing!
Reason #3: Makes the logistics easier for your wedding day.
There have been a handful of wedding days where venues are either super tight in space (for example, in a house where the groom gets ready in one room and the bride gets ready in another) or their features don’t allow to hide the bride and groom easily (for example, having an adventurous wedding on a mountaintop). In this case, a lot of a photographer’s time is spent making sure that either the bride or groom are tucked away where they are supposed to be while we get photographs of the other before the ceremony. If you decide to do a first look, it makes it easier for everyone to help out and for the photographers to get the shots they need without worrying about the groom accidentally seeing the bride. I’ve also been to a few weddings where the bride is helping with decorations or answering questions for family and it makes it a bit easier for the bride to walk around the venue if need be to help out (not recommended, but it happens)!
Reason #4: You get to spend more time together on your wedding day!
If you choose to have a first look, it usually happens before all of the rest of your photography and before the ceremony. Since you’ll have already seen each other, you get to go straight from the first look to couple’s portraits and then portraits with your bridal party and even some family. Usually these photographs are saved for after the ceremony, during the cocktail hour. Since you’re not worrying about seeing each other accidentally, you get to spend more time and do more things on the wedding day together. One of my couples who had a first look last year, Renita and Nate (you can see their wedding here), decided to walk down the aisle together! I just loved how special of a moment that was and how they decided to do it hand in hand.
Reason #5: You get to your reception a lot faster and is ideal for photography (at least in my opinion).
This reason is a bit of a 2-in-1, but they go hand-in-hand! Like I mentioned earlier, if you choose to do a first look, usually you’ll go ahead and get most of your photos taken before the ceremony, including: couple’s portraits, photos with your bridal party, and even some family formals if they’re in attendance before ceremony time. In traditional timelines, all of these photos are usually squeezed into the cocktail hour that occurs after the ceremony. Sometimes this can be a bit tough for photographers depending on how well family cooperate during formals and fast they can get through bridal party portraits, leaving a bit of time for portraits of the bride and groom.
First looks allow more time for all of these photos to be taken, takes a bit of stress off the photographer to get them all in during cocktail hour, and also helps you get to the reception faster! If you have a first look and get most photos finished before the ceremony, the only thing left before the reception are family formals since all of the family arrived in time for the ceremony. In my experience, family photos can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on how many are attending. If you’re having a cocktail hour, you can either choose to go straight to your reception and mingle with guests before dinner, eat dinner away from guests with just you and your husband/wife, or stick around for some sunset couple’s portraits with your photographer (just depends on what you want/logistics of the day)!
It’s also great for Fall weddings where the sun may set pretty early thanks to Daylight Savings!
Something to remember: it’s YOUR wedding day!
If you’d rather have a traditional timeline, that’s totally OKAY! I’m a firm believer in making your wedding day the way that you want it to be and reflective of the two of you! All of the reasons that I’ve stated above are from my experiences as a wedding photographer and what works best for me and my style, but that’s just me! I just wanted to share my thoughts on first looks and why I love photographing them.
I hope this blog was helpful and wish you all the best during your wedding planning! :D