Top 5 Reasons WHY You should do a First Look on Your Wedding Day

We’ve been photographing weddings now for over nine years and we continue to find that weddings with a First Look tend to go a lot smoother. Now be warned: We are wedding photographers so this article may be a tad biased toward prioritizing photography. We do, however,  try to balance this out to make sure our clients are a priority. So read between the lines and consider applying only what’s really important to you.

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Ok Wait, What the heck is a First Look?

You recently got engaged and every vendor keeps asking you the same annoying question: “So… Are you doing a First Look?” Let’s break it down for you. A First Look is a simple way of saying, “Will you be seeing each other before the ceremony?” Traditionally, couples will wait until the ceremony before seeing each other for the first time. However, it’s becoming more and more popular to see each other just before the ceremony for a number of reasons.  

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Our Top 5 Reasons WHY You should do a First Look on Your Wedding Day

 

1. It Calms the Nerves

If you’re the type of person that gets nervous around crowds, doesn’t like to be the center of attention or gets anxious rather easily, then this is a great option for you. We’ve found that most clients are super nervous just before the ceremony, and those that thought they wouldn’t be suddenly get a little freaked out. Lets face it, your wedding is probably one of the biggest days of your life. Depending on how involved you are in the process and your personality type, there can be a lot of internal stress built up to that moment of seeing each other for the first time. Don’t let me freak you out though; you can definitely get through it. However, doing a First Look will give you peace of mind knowing that your significant other will be there for you to help calm those nerves. Time and time again we see the stress fly away just after the bride sees the groom for the first time. It’s almost like a weight is lifted off their shoulder and the rest of the wedding day activities are a breeze.

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2. Way Less Risky

Is the reward worth the risk? Try to think more logically and less emotionally about your wedding day. The reality is a wedding day only happens once. You set a date, pick a venue and you’re set. Whatever happens, happens. Your wedding day is not guaranteed to fall perfectly into place. There are a lot of moving parts that you can’t control. Like bad weather, people running late, traffic jams, missing rings, a setting sun, etc. The list goes on and on for the potential of what could possibly go wrong. So instead of betting against the odds try planning things out with as little risk as possible. Plan for the worst and your day might end up being surprisingly pleasant. If you decide to do a first look, it basically means you can get all your pictures done and out of the way. Seeing each other before the ceremony lets you finish all your bride & groom portraits, bridal party portraits and family portraits. So after the wedding all you have to think about is actually attending your own cocktail hour and mingling with guests who are eager to congratulate you. It also provides you with a back-up time slot to finish your portraits just in case something kept you held up earlier in the day.  

If you need more advice on what we think is The Best Wedding Day Timeline – Check out this article we put together. It extensively covers what your wedding day timeline could look like with and without a First Look.

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3. The feelings don’t go away

So you’ve been dreaming about your wedding day since the day you were born. Right? You’ve been thinking about how precious that one moment is going to be when you see each other for the first time. Right? Well, what if its not everything it was cracked up to be? What if it was special but just not THAT special. I don’t mean to be cynical here, I just want to lower the expectation level so you don’t have super high expectations for something that might not be exactly what you imagine. Mind you, I’ve seen some AMAZING moments because the couple opted out from doing the First Look. Times so sweet, I even thought maybe I should stop trying to convince everyone to do a First Look. But at the same time I’ve seen incredible moments at the ceremony just moments after doing a First Look. If the emotions are really there, they are going to come out regardless of what you do. Seeing each other privately before the ceremony is much different than seeing each other in “Let’s Do This” mode as all your best friends and closest family members are watching. Here is a shot of a groom that did a first look moments before the ceremony. Trust me I have plenty more to prove it.

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Here is another couple that did a first look:

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And here was their second look at the ceremony:

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My thought is this: If you’re the type that doesn’t really want to hear about a First Look then don’t do it. But if you’re the type that is a little open minded and wants to know more then a First Look might just be right for you.

 

4. More Opportunities for Pictures

This one is probably our favorite because, let’s face it, we want you to have more opportunities for great pictures. At the end of the day all that’s left is the photography to look back on. When Brides were asked (in two separate surveys) after their wedding what they wish they spent more money on: 21% of brides wished they spent more on photography according to these articles found on the Huffington Post and Shutterfly. Which happened to be more than any other single item on the list.

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Regardless though how you decide to use your MONEY make better use of your TIME. This doesn’t mean you need to hire a photographer for 12hrs. You can be creative with structuring your wedding day timeline for optimal use. It is possible to have plenty of time for pictures and relaxation without killing the bank. Getting your pictures taken on a wedding day shouldn’t be an exhausting process. For us, we only need about 1-2hrs total (for all posed portraits) depending how many people you have in the family and bridal party. To see exactly how much time to allocate for your wedding I’d encourage again to take a look at this wedding day photography timeline. It will give you a much closer look for what the flow of your wedding day could look like.

In the meantime think about this for a sec: You spent all year long at work on Pinterest, pinning those nice, bright, naturally lit wedding pictures. But you have a 5 p.m. ceremony time and the sun is setting at 6:30 p.m. sharp, which means you still have about 15 minutes of available light before things start getting too dark for natural light. It sounds like enough time but what happens if the ceremony doesn’t actually start until 5:30 p.m. (which is pretty common). That leaves you with 30 minutes for the ceremony and 30 minutes for family portraits, bridal party portraits and bride/groom portraits – Talk about a rush!

Now that isn’t always the case. You could certainly plan for an earlier ceremony time, do your bridal party portraits separately (bridesmaids with bride & groomsmen with groom) before the ceremony and actually give yourself more little cushion for after the ceremony to focus on family portraits and bride/groom portraits. But you have to be okay with possibly missing your own cocktail hour and having only one opportunity for bride & groom shots. Also, you have to hope that lighting and weather during that golden hour will be nice to you. For most weddings, this approach works out just fine but if you’re not the type to take any chances, please save yourself the headache and just do the first look.

 

5. Be Present at Your Wedding

“Your wedding day will go by so fast!”

This isn’t an overstatement. There is so much activity and things to accomplish on your wedding day that sometimes taking it all in just isn’t possible. Even more reason to have a photographer capturing those unseen moments right before you. Try thinking like this when planning your wedding: For every tradition, location or moment in my wedding day, something extra is required from  either  me or my day. So if that tradition of seeing each other at the ceremony is very valuable to you, other things have to be appropriately move around to accommodate for both. There is only so much time in one day. Unless you have all the money in the world, let’s be realistic about your day but creatively plan so that you can have the best of both worlds.

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Time and time again clients have thanked us after the wedding for convincing them to do a First Look. If we sense they are really not about it, we definitely won’t push because ultimately we really want what’s best for you. But if someone is on the fence we want to lead them to make a more logical game plan for their big day.

We want you to live in the moment and not just relive it through the photos. We want you to be present with your guests. A First Look gives you the flexibility to get all your posed pictures totally out of the way so you can engage with the people you love the most.

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Don’t forget to grab your free copy of the wedding day timeline below:

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If you thought this was helpful drop us a line by commenting below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • Abby Breaux

    This is a fantastic blog! Such great advice. Thank you for sharing!