Thinking About a First Look at Your Wedding?

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Thinking about having a first look at your wedding but still not sure whether it’s right for you? We’re breaking down the pros & cons of having a first look on your wedding day, in the post below!

The What & Why of a First Look

The whole idea of having a first look at your wedding is still a relatively new norm. Modern couples plan weddings with the intention of having an experience and from there the first look was born. It’s a private moment between the two of you (and your wedding photographer!) where you get to see each other for the first time that day, away from the eyes of your guests. It’s usually a moment filled with kisses, hugs, tears, laughter, sweet words, and booty grabs. Hey – we’re not here to judge! Some couples use this time to exchange gifts, and others to make private vows or exchange letters with each other. This special moment is filled with excitement, while you see each other for the last time as “fiancés.”

Aside from the privacy of being able to freely express emotions to each other in that moment. You’ll find that seeing each other for the last time as “engaged” before being dubbed newlyweds is a type of profound joy & excitement that you’ve never experienced before in your relationship! There’s truly nothing like it. And yes, you’ll want photos that reflect that special feeling you shared on your wedding day!

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Having a first look allows you & your partner to have a more relaxed wedding ceremony and still enjoy a deeply private moment together.

So many couples have a hard time making the decision to have a first look. The first thing that couples usually grapple with when deciding whether or not to have a first look is that they believe the excitement of seeing each other “down the aisle” will be gone. But, it’s simply not true. It’s usually because they have an idea in their mind of a big epic, traditional reveal moment.

You might be thinking that having a first look will take away from the magic of that. But having a first look will open the door for you and your partner to have a more relaxed ceremony. One where the nerves have washed away and you are fully present in the moment. You’ll instead be filled with happiness and joy that your moment has finally arrived, taking in each precious second of your ceremony.

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Talk to Your Photographer About Your Timeline

When you initially meet with your wedding photographer for the first time, they will more than likely ask you your thoughts on having a first look. And in most situations, wedding photographers will typically even recommend that you have a first look! But, with good reason. 

One of the biggest reasons your wedding photographer will recommend a first look is time. In addition to your well-planned day of events, your wedding photographer will have their own timeline. This will work with the amount of hours you booked in your photography package, along with what you expressed was important to capture on your wedding day. They’ll do all the heavy lifting for creating your photography timeline, so you don’t have to worry about it! However, it is important that you are completely honest with them about your expectations and the moments most important to you for them to capture.

Want to enjoy the cocktail hour at your wedding?

Having a first look before your wedding ceremony means that you have time to join your cocktail hour and that the only photos left to take for the day are family formals (if you requested them). By the way, family formals can be taken in your respective getting-ready suites while your family and wedding party are in attendance helping you button up! Or, they can be taken during your reception. They don’t have to happen directly after your ceremony. Again, talk this over with our photographer! 

Moving the time frame of your family formals means you don’t have to worry about running off directly after your ceremony to take formal photos while your guests hit the cocktail hour without you. You can skip right to celebrating and enjoy that signature cocktail you concocted with your catering staff!

By the way, the average time frame for formal portraits at your wedding is usually a 15 – 20 minute window.

That includes portraits, wedding parties; in different groupings of course, and formal photos with each of your beloved family members as well as one big group shot. Think about all the people in your life that will be included in those photos. Now think about trying to squeeze all of that into a 15-20 minute time frame!

It’s not impossible, but it’s not enjoyable either. It’s very rushed and absolutely timed right down to the second. It includes what wedding photographers call a “shot list” and the calling out of names to make sure that everyone you mentioned during your call is there to hop into a photo. If the focus when planning your wedding was to be immersed in the entire experience, this tight, rushed time frame will not allow to you be present and in the moment. Instead, it’ll be controlled chaos with some shouting and running around. Definitely not enjoyable.

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Need a quick bulleted breakdown of the pros & cons of having a first look at your wedding? Here are a few reasons why you might *want* to have a first look at your wedding.
  • You are a modern couple who wants to do things unique to your personality
  • Time! You want more time after your ceremony instead of racing off to take more photos
  • Cocktail hour! You planned an amazing cocktail hour with all kinds of small bites and fab drinks and you want to be able to enjoy it with your guests
  • You want to have a private moment together to exchange personal vows before the actual ceremony
  • You want to exchange gifts during your first look while your wedding photographer captures the moment
  • The idea of having a special, private moment together before your ceremony sounds exactly like what you need to get rid of the wedding day nerves
  • You want the first person to see you fully dressed on your wedding day to be your partner
  • You want to have a private moment together before you walk down the aisle, which will later allow you to be more present and in the moment
  • You’d like to be able to freely express your emotions to your partner without the added pressure of your guests watching
  • You have a specific vision for your wedding day photos, it’s important that you come away with photos that capture raw authentic moments as opposed to posed & directed photos
Here are a few reasons why you might *not want* to have a first look at your wedding.
  • Your wedding day is extremely traditional and you find tradition to be an important part of your values
  • You picture yourself making a grand entrance with all of your guests saying “oh” and “ah” at your gorgeous wedding day attire for the surprise of a lifetime
  • You worry that seeing each other before the ceremony might be bad luck
  • You dream of locking eyes for the first time at the altar
  • You’ve always imagined the very moment of your wedding day when you and your partner see each other for the first time and it wasn’t during a first look
  • Your faith or spirituality is a big part of your relationship and it is important to you that it brings you together for the first time on your wedding day when you meet at the altar of your house of worship
  • You are both very close with your friends and family and you want them to be part of the moment too

We love the idea of having a first look at your wedding for the unforgettable moment it creates and the photos that memorialize it. But, in the end, it’s up to you to decide how you want to celebrate your unique personalities on your wedding day!

Need even more wedding planning inspiration while you’re here? Check out some of the recent trending topics on our blog!
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