It’s no secret my favorite part of a wedding day is the first look. It’s the one time on a wedding day you can bet on me shedding a couple of tears. That and the Father-Daughter dance – thanks Charlotte!
When I began shooting weddings nearly nine years ago, first looks weren’t a thing. It wasn’t until 2013 when I photographed my very first, first look. And they didn’t become a regular occurrence at my weddings until 2015. After Josh and I shared a first look at our own wedding.
After first hand experiencing how magical those moments are as a Bride, I began to explain that to my own Brides when we built their timelines.
In the last four wedding seasons, I have photographed over 50 first looks with a total of 79 weddings. 11 out of my 13 weddings in 2018 opted for a first look.
So I’m sure by now you’re saying “that’s great, but WHY do I need to do a first look?” Allow me to explain
Five Reasons to do a First Look
1. Hair and makeup are fresh for photos
Let’s face it, hair and makeup is an investment on a wedding day! Why not take advantage it’s perfection for photos right away? Especially on a hot summers day, what looked magazine worthy at 1 pm, may look more like an aftermath of WWE by the time we get a chance for portraits.
2. No stress – all joy
How do you or your groom do under pressure? If you’re put in a stressful situation, are you more likely to get frazzled and lose the joy you were once feeling? I know I do, and I know I’m not alone. I’m human, and humans were not created to enjoy being stressed. Especially on a wedding day! What if I told you that having a first look takes all the stress out of your wedding day? You don’t have to worry about hiding from your groom, or worrying about him catching a glimpse of you accidentally. You don’t have to be concerned about your wedding day timeline, and if you have time for photos. And there certainly is zero pressure to “perform” when you see each other for the first time. There are not 200 eyes on you as you come down the aisle and see your groom for the first time. There’s three (your photographer and their second photographer and your groom, of course!), maybe five if you hired videographers.
3. You’ll receive 40% more photos of you and your husband
On a perfect wedding day, when there is no first look, a couple may get 20 minutes total for pictures of just the two of them. On their wedding day. Just 20 minutes. Even with an experienced wedding photographer that is an expert in posing a Bride and Groom, 20 minutes isn’t a lot of time. With only 20 minutes, you’re going to be feel rushed. And stressed. And friends, we’re talking about your wedding day. Wouldn’t you want to take your time, enjoy those moments with the love of your life? Wouldn’t it be nice to stroll the grounds of your wedding venue? Taking in the scenery? When my couples have a first look, we go from having a rushed and stressed 20 minutes to a relaxed and joyful hour of portrait time. One whole hour. That extra time means at least 40% more photos of the two of you on your wedding day. After all, in the years to come, when you’re sitting down looking at wedding photos from where it all started, do you think your daughter is really going to care about the photos of your hair getting done? Or do you think she’s going to admire the smiles on her momma and daddy’s faces during portrait time?
4. Major tasks for the Bridal Party are completed before the ceremony
If you have ever been a part of a wedding party before, you know the day is long. There’s just no way around it. You can’t complain about how long the day is because you agreed to the duties, but that doesn’t keep you from wishing you could grab a drink at the bar and actually enjoy yourself. When couples have a first look, the Bridal Party fulfills their obligations once the ceremony is completed! They don’t have to worry about standing around for the family formals (unless they are family), they don’t have to worry about keeping their high heels on for a second longer, and if the guys want to loosen their tie, they can. This is all possible for once the portraits are completed of the Bride and Groom, we gather the rest of the bridal party for photos. Brides – this also means there is less time for your groomsmen to enjoy the adult beverages they brought in their coolers and could be drinking all day. I can’t begin to tell you how uncooperative a Bridal Party is if we haven’t taken the photos before the ceremony! They’re tired and just ready for a drink and a hot meal!
5. Your Guests aren’t left hungry
Your guests are going to thank you for having a first look. Trust me on this. There is nothing worse than arriving to a wedding at 3 pm, ceremony starting at 3:30, and not being able to sit down and enjoy their meal until after 6 pm. When a couple does a first look, the only photos that need taking after the ceremony is typically the family formals if they’re not done beforehand. This means after family formals, there are 30-40 minutes still left of cocktail hour. This also means that you and your now husband can go mingle with your guests! You’ll be able to enjoy and spend time with the people that spent their day celebrating your new life together! Thanking them at this time also means that once the dance floor opens up for the night, you’re showing off your moves instead of spending your evening talking to everyone.
I could give you about 10 more reasons to do a first look at your wedding, but these are my top five reasons. In my years of shooting weddings, I have never had a couple do a first look and tell me they hated the experience and time spent together. But I have had couples tell me they regret not doing a first look. I promise you, seeing each other before the ceremony does not take away from the walk down the aisle! I wouldn’t make a promise like that if I didn’t know it to be 110% true!
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