A “First Look” is where a bride and groom opt to see each other before the ceremony in an intimate setting with just two the of them. The groom often stands facing away while the bride comes up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. He then turns around and gets to see his bride for the first time all dressed up with just the two of them (and their photographer) there to enjoy the moment. This is a newish trend in the wedding industry, but I honestly think it’s here to stay! But is it right for you?
As a photographer, I often try to convey the value of a first look to my couples. It’s a great photo opportunity and it really helps make the day less stressful time-wise. But I know there are still a lot of mixed emotions about first looks, so here are a few pros and cons for you to consider.
Wedding days go by SO fast. And when you choose not to have a first look, the first half of your day is spent hidden away from your partner. If you have a first look, you get about an extra 3 hours together on your big day, including more alone time!
I don’t know about you, but being the center of attention makes me nervous. On the my wedding day, I was a ball of nerves. But you know what made me feel better? Having my fiance by my side! As soon as I saw him during the first look, I felt immediately calm and like I had my partner-in-crime by my side to enjoy the rest of the day with. We got to have fun together hanging out before the ceremony and taking pictures with our bridal party. Without the first look, I would have spend those extra hours with sweaty palms and a pit in stomach!
More time with your partner on your wedding day, means more time for photos. If you have a first look, we can spend time before the ceremony, when we aren’t rushed, getting all the wedding party, family and couples portraits you want. It also leaves your photographer more time to be created and capture your day in a natural way! Otherwise, all your photos are smushed into an hour after the ceremony, which leaves little time for variety and creativity.
If you have a first look, we can get 90% of your photos done BEFORE your ceremony! This means, we only need about 30 minutes after your ceremony to finish up some family photos and maybe some sunset shots, and you’re free to go enjoy some of cocktail hour with your guests.
In Texas, wedding days can be HOT. Especially in the summer months. If you have a first look, we can take 90% of your photos right after you’re done getting ready, while your hair and makeup are still perfect and sweat-free. Then, you’re free to cooldown and do touchups in the A/C before the ceremony. If you don’t do a first look, you’ll likely sweat or cry during your ceremony, then have to go straight into portraits due to time constraints.
It’s hard to hear, but it’s true! I’ve heard so many brides say “If I don’t see him crying, I’m turning back around” but honestly, most guys don’t cry. There’s just too much pressure! All those eyes on him, the expectations placed on him to cry, plus he has so many things to think about in that moment like “am I standing in the right spot, do I look okay, what if I forget what to say, did we remember the rings, etc.”. It’s a big moment with a lot of pressure. But with a first look…it’s just you two. No pressure, no onlookers, no distractions. Plus, there are plenty of guys who cry at BOTH!
If you really want a traditional wedding day, where your partner sees you for the first time coming down the aisle, then it’s okay to skip the first look. Seriously, do what makes you happy!
While the first look is a lot more private than your ceremony, you will still have your photo/video team there like a little paparazzi. If that whole idea sounds staged and awkward to you, then skip it! Although, my team does our very best to stay out of the way and let you have an authentic moment. No interruptions or cues from us!
If you have a first look, then you need to be done with hair and makeup at least 3 hours before the ceremony. This may require you to start your day much earlier and require everyone else in your party and family to get to the venue earlier. If don’t have a first-look, then you have a little more leeway when it comes to time.
If you’re having a winter wedding and the sun sets at 5:30pm, you will either have to:
I hope this helps you make a decision about what’s right for you! No matter what you decide, remember this is your day, so do whatever makes you happy.
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