First look from a photographers perspective: Should you do one?

Let’s talk about a first look and what it actually is! A first look is a modern wedding tradition where you set aside a moment to privately see each other all done up before the ceremony rather than seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle. More and more couples are opting to have this intimate experience. It is raw, it is candid, it is beautiful, and it is visually poetic!

first look between wedding couple, groom lovingly looking at his bride

But does it take away from the magic of the ceremony?

I know we’ve all seen the movies, seen that emotional scene where the groom sees his bride for the first time as she is walking down the aisle. He’s in tears, overcome with emotion and smiling at his bride while making every mental note of this moment.

Does it actually happen like that?

As a wedding photographer, someone who has seen my fair share of weddings, I can say that I’ve seen more genuine, true emotion during first looks than I have during a ceremony. See, the thing is, when you are in front of tens, fifty, hundreds of people, sometimes you feel like you are expected to have this reaction. Expected to show this emotion and have this “movie moment” in front of all of these people. But there are so many more emotions to account for! If you’re like me, the anxiety and nervousness from being in front of that many people can play into this moment and make it hard to actually soak in each other for the first time.

I would also like to note that I’ve seen many brides/grooms still tear up walking down the aisle even after doing a first look earlier in the day! Seeing your person in that setting, surrounded by all your loved ones is magical even if you’ve done a first look or not!

wedding on the lake, couple seeing each other and embracing
couple kissing

First looks give you back so much more time on your wedding day.

From a photography perspective, doing a first look allows us to take photos before the ceremony, leaving you to enjoy most, if not all, of your cocktail hour + reception instead of having to cram ALL of our photos (wedding party, family, & you two) into a single hour.

Now, a timeline where you do a first look can be structured however you want it to look, but normally with my clients I do the first look around noon, or 1pm. Getting to see your boo earlier will not only calm your nerves, it also means you don’t have to sneak around or worry about seeing one another for the majority of the day.

Traditionally, if you waited to see each other until the ceremony, that means waiting until around 4pm for the ceremony before you even see each other. Now quick math here, most wedding venues have a policy of ending around 9 or 10pm. So if you choose to not do a first look, that means you are roughly spending only 5 hours with your partner on your wedding day. And of those five hours at least one is spent doing pictures and the others will be so busy it can feel like a whirlwind.

At the end of the day, do what feels right to you. If you have always dreamed about seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle, DO THAT! There is no right or wrong. This is your day. As a photographer I can honestly say that both ways (a first look or not) turns out beautifully!



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