Couples often go back and forth on the decision to have a first look on their wedding day. It is a big decision and it’s something that you and your fiancé should thoughtfully consider together.
After photographing countless weddings with a healthy mixture with and without first looks, we’ve compiled a list of unbiased pros and cons that may help make your decision a little easier and more informed.
Let’s start with the pros of a first look:
A few moments alone. This is the #1 reason we recommend our couples have a first look. Your wedding day will be jam-packed with timelines to adhere to, friends and family to greet, and fun to be had. All of which will be surrounded by your closest family and friends (yay!), but it also means you have very few to zero moments to just be with one another and take it all in. The opportunity to spend a few quiet moments with each other, and your favorite wedding photographers or videographers, tends to be at the top of “favorite parts of the wedding day” list for our couples.
You get to the celebration sooner. A first look on your wedding day means you and your fiancé get your couples shots done and out of the way early which means you get to your reception sooner! This is especially meaningful for couples that have larger families (read: more than 20 family or extended family members that you want photos with) or have large bridal parties (read: more than 6 bridesmaids or groomsmen).
Why is that? Well, the reality is… it takes time to photograph the two of you with your family members and your bridal party. We certainly can’t forget about Aunt Susan and Uncle Keith who traveled hundreds of miles to witness your matrimony and we definitely aren’t skimping out on all the fun post-ceremony bridal party shots. The reality is, photos take time! By electing to do a first look you are getting a number of your couples shots out of the way earlier, eliminating twenty to thirty minutes, or more, of dedicated time for the two of you to be photographed, which means you get a glass of champagne in hand and your dancing shoes on sooner!
Diversity of Your Photos. Choosing to do a first-look provides some inherent diversity in your photos that you wouldn’t otherwise receive. For instance, if your ceremony is starting in the evening but you love the idea of capturing those perfect “bright and airy” sun-filled photos of you and your soon-to-be spouse, adding a first look to your day enables your photographers to capture photos at a time when lighting is optimal. On the flip side, if you have an early afternoon ceremony, the reality is that your first look photos may be bright and beautiful, sun-filled images. If you’re looking for soft, golden hour images or photos at dusk, you now have the benefit of sneaking away for a few minutes during your reception to capture a few additional photos at sunset together, giving you a diverse set of images from your wedding day to treasure.
But, let’s be honest, there are a few cons of a first look.
You see each other. We know it sounds funny but there’s no way around that one. Our couples that have had the most challenging time determining if a first look on their wedding day is for them, struggle with the idea of seeing one another before they get to the altar. If you, too, are having a hard time wrapping your head around a less traditional concept like a first look, it’s important to evaluate what is most important to both of you. If the idea of seeing one another before the doors to your ceremony open is too much to bare, the choice is clear: opt out of a first look. There are plenty of creative alternative ways to have a “moment together” without physically seeing one another that we’re happy to discuss.
Our most important point on this “con”, is this: there is absolutely NO replacement to your ceremony doors opening and your walk down the aisle to your soon-to-be husband or a replacement to the moment your bride is walking towards you. Whether you elect to have a first look or decide to eliminate it, that moment will not be lost, replaced, or diminished by whichever decision you make. Eyes are never dry regardless of a couple’s decision to have a first look or not.
Your day starts a little earlier. A first look requires you and your fiancé to be ready earlier. We recommend our couples have their first look at least one hour before the ceremony start-time. This eliminates any potential run-ins with early-to-arrive guests and gives you an opportunity to relax a bit before you say “I Do”. Because of this, it means your hair and make-up will need to start earlier than otherwise required if you opted out of a first look. For brides with a large bridal party, it could require your day to start a few hours earlier. If you are already feeling anxious about your timeline or feel like your wedding day is a bit rushed, we recommend skipping a first look. The last thing we want is for your wedding day to feel rushed or stressed because of a photo opportunity.
Your emotions make take over. Or not. Here’s what we mean by the “or not”: the reality is your photographer and videographer BFFs will be there. If you’ve selected skilled vendors, they’ll know exactly how to keep their distance and let you have special moments together before they step in. In fact, we always give our couples a few minutes to authentically enjoy their first look without focusing on photos. Even with a photographer or videographer that takes a thoughtful approach, the reality is…they’re still there and a part of your moment! If you’re worried about your emotions getting the best of you, and perhaps throwing off your wedding day rhythm or if you’re concerned you won’t have an authentic reaction because your vendor team will be present, we’d reconsider a first look and save the sweet moments for the altar.
No matter what you decide, it’s important that you and your fiancé feel like the decision is yours. And, always remember: you can call an audible all the way up until right before your ceremony.