The topic of a “first look” is often highly debated among brides and wedding professionals alike. If you’re unfamiliar with what a “first look” is, essentially, it is where the bride and groom plan a time before the ceremony to see each other – just the two of them.
But before we move on, a quick disclaimer: the very last thing I ever want to do when talking about a first look is make someone feel bad for choosing to opt for a more traditional route of the groom seeing the bride for the first time while walking down the aisle. Heck, my husband and I opted to not have a first look, because we both decided that we wanted to keep that aspect of our day a bit more traditional! But with that being said, I do want to share some pros and cons of a first look to help those who might be on the fence!
You’ll have more time together.
This is a HUGE one, and one I wish I would’ve considered going into my own wedding day! On your wedding day, you’ll come down the aisle, get married, jump straight into portraits, then jump straight into the reception – there’s barely any time to have a relaxed moment together. But with a first look, you’ll get the majority of your photos done before the ceremony, and will therefore have much more time to enjoy just being together (plus, you’ll get to attend cocktail hour – which leads me to my next point!).
You’ll get to spend more time with your guests.
If the majority of your photos take place before the ceremony, you’ll most likely be able to attend the majority of (or part of!) your cocktail hour! This is a great way to make sure you get to talk with the majority of your guests and enjoy the party you worked so hard to plan!
You’ll feel less rushed.
Have you ever been to a wedding where there was a 3-5 hour time gap between the ceremony and reception? Me too. I remember being antsy, hungry, and ready for the party to start by the time bridal party made it to the reception. Doing a first look means being able to do the majority of your photos before the ceremony, which cuts down time between the ceremony and reception for your guests.
You’ll be less nervous.
I’m naturally more of an introvert, so being in front of a crowd of people gives me a little bit of anxiety. If you’re like me, consider doing a first look. You’ll get to experience that moment together – just the two of you (plus your photographer, hopefully from afar ;) ) – without anyone else around. There’s no pressure to react a certain way, no onlookers, just a private moment between the two of you.
You’ll have more time for portraits!
Sometimes on a wedding day, things run behind. The ceremony goes a little over, the receiving line is unaccounted for in the official timeline, or the transportation to the reception takes a bit longer than expected – which all cut into photo time. Having your photos taken before the ceremony means that you can plan a bigger time chunk without having to worry about everything running behind and arriving late to your reception or making guests wait for you!
*As a side note, if you’re getting married in the winter months, the sun will set a bit earlier in the day. Make sure you pay attention to when your photo time will take place in relation to when the sun sets so you aren’t taking photos in the dark!
Your fiancé will see you before the ceremony, so the “down the aisle” moment will be a little different.
It’s true, that moment down the aisle you’ve always been dreaming of may feel a bit different since you will have already seen each other.
You’ll have to start getting ready earlier in the day.
With a first look, you’ll need to be “photo ready” earlier, which means you’ll have to start getting ready earlier. It can be helpful to ask your photographer when he/she thinks the first look should happen, based on what time the ceremony is set to begin. Then, you’ll be able to ask your hair and makeup artists how much time hair and makeup will take, and when you will need to start getting ready.
Lighting during the first look isn’t always ideal.
The best time of day for photos is a few hours after sunrise, or a few hours before sunset. The biggest thing I get hung up on with a first look is the light! Most first looks happen in the middle of the day, when the light is harsh, so sometimes it’s tough to find a good spot with flattering light – especially for photos with large groups of people (like a bridal party!).
First looks have both their pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is what you want your wedding day to look like. If you want a first look, do it. If you don’t want a first look, don’t do it. But whatever you do, make sure you weigh your options so you can make an educated decision either way!