There are SO many reasons to love first looks. That intimate moment between just the bride and groom before the ceremony?! It’s almost always my favorite moment of a wedding day! My husband will sometimes photograph weddings with me, and every time we photograph a wedding with a first look, he inevitably will turn to me and say: “I wish we would’ve done one of these!”


Yes, first looks are amazing, intimate, and can be really helpful from a timeline perspective if there isn’t quite enough time for photos between the ceremony and reception, or if you want to attend your cocktail hour (click here to read an article I wrote about the pros of having a first look!) – but I do have one pretty big beef with first looks, and it’s something that I don’t see many people talking about.

The light.

Because first looks happen before a wedding ceremony, most of them take place around lunchtime, or when the sun is highest in the sky. And if you’re getting married on a farm in the middle of July with a first look at noon… the light (unless it’s an overcast day!) has the potential to be pretty harsh, and sometimes, quite unflattering. And if you opt to have all of your photos taken before the ceremony, all of those photos you’ve seen with glowy, soft light with a bride and groom frolicking through a field… they’re not really attainable. Because it’s just too bright. Those photos with glowing, golden sunlight are taken a few hours before the sun sets (or a few hours after the sun rises).


Well, first, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – just between you and me. A lot of wedding photographers love first looks because, the majority of the time, there is not enough time allotted between the ceremony and reception for us to get all of the photos we need to. So, when the photos of the bride & groom, bridal party, and sometimes even the immediate family happen before the ceremony, things are a bit more relaxed, because there is more time. And that’s what we want for you most – for you to be able to enjoy your day without being rushed!

Most couples don’t allot enough time for photos because A) they don’t want to make their guests wait too long, or B) the venue told them they have an hour between the ceremony and reception for photos. And, trust me - I believe those are completely understandable reasons to be cautious about the amount of time you allot for!

But let me tell you something, friends. This day happens once for you. And you are investing in these photos. And you know that saying about how “good things take time”? Well, the same goes for wedding photos, which also take time! (If you’re wondering how much time you should allot for photos, for a sample timeline, click here!) I like to suggest leaving at least a full hour and a half (not including travel time) just for bride and groom, bridal party, and family photos (or about a half hour for each… if not more!).


The key is: whatever you choose to do, make sure you leave enough time for your photos. That’s it! If you choose to have a first look, amazing! If you choose to forgo a first look and have the majority of photos taken between the ceremony and reception, that’s great! But don’t be afraid to plan for an extended cocktail hour (i.e., a cocktail hour longer than an hour) so that you can get the photos you’ve always dreamed of!

 Happy planning!