The First Look. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. Your mother, most likely, has not. The First Look is a dedicated moment prior to the ceremony where the Bride & Groom see each other for the first time instead of waiting until the walk down the aisle. Typically it’s in a beautiful, quiet location (chosen by you or your photographer) where the two of you may start your day together with a private moment that is unobtrusively photographed by your photographer. This relatively new tradition is breaking one of the biggest traditions of all time, leaving Mothers-of-the-bride with their head spinning. However, in my opinion, it’s all for good reason and has a ton of perks. What I once considered a trend, I now see the First Look as a wonderful, meaningful tradition in today’s modern wedding. Here’s why:
1. More time together. Most weddings we photograph hold their ceremonies around 5pm. It seems ironic that on a day that is solely dedicated to two people in love, those two people don’t get to be together until the sun has nearly set. Then, once you are together, you’re sharing your time with 100, 200 or more other people. With a First Look, you’re not only spending more of your wedding day together but you’re carving out a piece of the day for just the two of you. 2. More time with your favorite people. I think most of us can agree that one of the best parts of a wedding is getting to be in a room with all of your most favorite people in the world. How many times in your life will both of your families and all of your friends come together again to celebrate YOU?! So why would you give up your cocktail hour to take photos when you could get those out of the way before the ceremony? With a First Look, we can complete Bride & Groom portraits, immediate family photos and bridal party photos all before the ceremony has begun. That leaves extended family photos for after the ceremony which usually takes us about 10 minutes. The rest of cocktail hour is yours to enjoy! I always tell my brides, if spending the maximum amount of time with family and friends is of utmost importance to you, do a First Look!
Below: A celebratory toast with Sarah & Zak’s parents and wedding party before beginning their ceremony.
3. A more relaxed pace. It’s much easier to dedicate an hour to photos prior to the ceremony than after the ceremony. When doing photos before the ceremony, you’re simply enjoying the moment. The only ones around are your bridal party and immediate family. It’s like a little private party before the big party gets started. Once the festivities begin, there is a lot going on and a lot to take in. At that point, I want our couple to be able to just soak it all in. With a First Look, one of our most important tasks (portraits) is nearly complete.
4. More cooperation. One of the biggest challenges we face at every wedding is cooperation from the bridal party and sometimes the family too. “I’m so excited to have my picture taken” said no wedding guest, ever. With a First Look giving us the opportunity to complete portraits before the ceremony, we’re not keeping anyone from socializing. Everyone is so much more cooperative pre-ceremony and we’re rarely standing around waiting on people that keep wandering off to the bar and the bathroom.
5. More photos. A First Look not only leaves you free to enjoy cocktail hour but also allows us the time to capture more photographs than just your portraits. We have plenty of time to get wonderful candids of your friends and family as well as casual group shots and also a wide variety of detail shots of all your reception details.
6. More everything. With a First Look, you’re basically extending the length of your wedding day by about an hour. This is the approximate amount of time we need to complete all your portraits. This means more time with the people you love, more time with your soon to be husband/wife, more time enjoying the beautiful day, more time in your dress, more, more, more!
Okay, so let’s talk about the single drawback to the First Look. The walk down the aisle, the moment you lay eyes on each other for the first time (at least that’s how you’ve always dreamed it). The First Look is a very personal decision. No photographer or coordinator should try to talk you in to it if you’re dead set against it. However, if you’ve read this article and you’re thinking you might enjoy all the above perks, then it’s definitely something you should consider. If you’ve read this article and feel like you “should” do a First Look but you have a knot in your stomach because you really wanted to wait until the walk down the aisle, then by all means, go with your heart. It’s your day!
A couple of things to keep in mind…
Doing a First Look does not mean giving up that magical moment when you see each other for the first time. You’re simply doing it in a different way. A way that actually lets you soak up that moment for longer. The walk down the aisle happens so fast and in front of everyone but the First Look can last as long as you like and gives the two of you the time to really take it all in.
If you are getting married in the middle of Winter, a First Look might be necessary. It depends on the exact time of year, but in the middle of Winter, the sun usually sets around 4:00 or 4:30. Most Winter ceremonies we see are around 4:00 or 5:00. To get photos done in the daylight, we’ll need to complete those before the ceremony!
If you would love to do a First Look but your fiancé or parents aren’t convinced, pass this along to them to give them an idea of what the First Look is all about and all the perks that come along with it!
Hi there! IN Photography is us, Mark & Michele, your husband and wife team. We’re part-time wanderers, full-time photographers and lovers of all things outdoors. Twelve years ago we started this business with nothing but two photography degrees and a dream. Today we pride ourselves on delivering a superior product and exceptional client experience.