I get asked this question ALL THE TIME.
So much so that I wanted to post about it so that in the future, all my couples could see these amazing moments photographed below, and in doing so, it would help them decide.
Now if you ask me to decide for you, I will ALWAYS say “YES, DO A FIRST LOOK”. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about tradition and the beauty behind seeing each other for the first time with everyone around when one is walking down the aisle. However, I have MANY reasons for why I fully, 100%, ALWAYS support doing a first look over waiting until a ceremony.
And before you scroll to see, let me explain how a FIRST LOOK works. It’s a few moments where a couple gets to see each other (usually with no one else but the photographers and/or video crew around) earlier in the day before the ceremony. They see each other FIRST before anyone else. Some couples are back to back and count down to turning and facing each other at the same time. Others tap on the shoulder so that the other knows it’s time to turn around. Some want it to be just the two of them. Others want their family and wedding party surrounding them. No matter how it’s done, it is just what it says : A FIRST LOOK BETWEEN A SOON TO BE MARRIED COUPLE before they say I DO, and before any invited guests see them.
Why is this a great idea? Well there are many reasons, but today I’ll give you my top 3 reasons why :
1. TIME ALONE
This one is SO important. Setting up a specific time for a first look BEFORE the ceremony gives you time not only for more pictures, but more importantly, with each other. When couples ask me how long a first look takes, I never give a definitive answer. I can’t. I explain that it all depends on how much time YOU NEED TOGETHER. I give direction at the beginning, but once you are set to go, I step back and let you have your moment alone while I photograph it. I always explain that when ready, you can look over at me and say “Ok Liz, now what should we do?” 😉 That TIME alone is crucial on a day that goes by faster than you think and is filled with so many people. Every couple I’ve photographed that has done a first look was beyond glad they had those moments together. They were able to react however they wanted (most of the time crying) and take it all in without feeling rushed.
*On average, most couples only take about 10 minutes alone before we move on to more pictures.
When I am putting together a photography timeline with my couples, the first question I ask is if they are willing to see each other prior to the ceremony (i.e. schedule a first look), and then what time is the ceremony? I ask these so that I can give a realistic response on how long they would have for pictures alone, pictures with their wedding party, and then formal portraits with their family.
So many factors help determine a photography timeline including ceremony and reception locations, distance, start times, and season. For example, a lot of couples in the Spring or Summer schedule a ceremony later in the day so that they are closer to sunset. This might mean that their cocktail hour and reception immediately follows. While logistically this makes sense, it also leaves little to no time for extra fun wedding party pictures. Then there is late Fall to Winter. With the sun setting so much earlier in the day, we have to constantly think about the time we need to be starting and ending pictures so that we have the best light available.
Scheduling a first look earlier in the day gives you more flexibility in time for pictures together, with your wedding party, with your family, and travel time to and from venues (if they happen to be separate).
I always ask my couples when I see them at the beginning of the day how they are feeling (and if you’ve worked with me before you know I also ask, “Have you had any water yet?”) Gotta stay hydrated! 😉 .
The #1 response is usually “I just can’t wait to see him/her”. I had this revelation last year for myself about how weddings are planned around two people who (with certain timelines) don’t actually see each other until half the day is already over. Think about that. If a couple waits to see each other at the ceremony and the ceremony is later in the afternoon (or evening), it can mean you have done all of this planning with each other only to spend a few short hours enjoying it together. Whoah! Right?!
Regardless, most couples are always so relieved after they see each other. They cry, they laugh, they talk about what happened in the morning, and more importantly, they have time together. From then on out, they are with each other, supporting each other, helping to carry dresses, straightening ties, rounding up wedding party members, rounding up family members (thank you for that!), and spending more time on one of the biggest days of their lives TOGETHER vs. waiting APART.
The sense of relief and nervousness disappearing is what I can actually see IN THE PICTURES. Couples become so much more relaxed because they are no longer thinking about seeing each other for the first time. The buildup of nervousness is changed to excitement to say “I DO” and get married and celebrate. They go into their ceremony already having hugged and cried and laughed together.
Doesn’t that sound like a great start to a marriage? 😉
Don’t believe me? Scroll through to see some of my favorite first look moments in past weddings here :
EMY & DEREK
Sometimes, the first look starts with the Best Man…in the bride’s white prom dress. HA! blog coming soon…
Always remember, whatever your choice may be, decide it together.
While I LOVE first looks, the wedding day is yours to plan, however you see fit. <3