Having a first look
So should you have one or not? If so, how should you do it? Is it really the best choice for your wedding day’s time line? These are all good questions if you’re considering having a first look.
Unfortunately, in recent years, I have heard too many photographers say “I always encourage my couples to have a first look!” The idea being that you will have more time for photos. While that can be true, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best choice. Let me lay out a few things to consider.
What do you and your fiancée want?
Sure, maybe the two of you are split on the idea. Not a problem. Ideally, your photographer will be experienced enough to help you lay out the options and how it relates to your time line. If they are not, then I hope that these points will help you and them out. Most importantly, a photographer never should push for a first look if it is important to you not to do one. Typically, we ask a couple if they plan on doing one or not – and we plan accordingly. If they are unsure, then we can help walk them through the benefits and drawbacks – and that is usually based on what their day’s time line might look like.
The time line considerations.
Typically, when we are starting planning a time line with a couple, and even at the time of booking, most couples know what time their ceremony is going to start. Many couples even know approximately what time would need to be “introduced” at the reception. Do you have separate ceremony and reception locations? Or are you at only one venue? Do you want to be a part of a cocktail hour or just be introduced and go right into dinner? Questions like these provide the framework of your time line and can influence whether or not doing a first look works with your situation.
Photography time considerations.
This follows up with your initial time line. Whether we do your photos all after the ceremony or we split the time, our goal is always to plan for about one hour of time – for family formals, bridal party and the couple. Sometimes the plans of the day dictate how this works, sometimes there is some flexibility. Our style and priority is to be fast and effective – and then if there is additional time to work with, we can go from there if the couple wants more “formal” photo time. We have found that most couples do not want 2 hours of formal photos. Instead, they want to enjoy the day.
What are the drawbacks of a first look?
Brides, you will need to be dressed earlier. You may not mind that or you might think you don’t want to be dressed any sooner than you have to. This usually means that your bridal party also needs to be dressed earlier. In most of our weddings, we have the bride “hidden away” at least 45 minutes before the ceremony. Most brides do not want guests arriving and seeing her in the middle of photos. So if you are going to do a first look, then you will need to be ready earlier than if you’re not. If you and your groom are getting ready at different locations or maybe have a longer travel time getting to your venue, this can bump your day much earlier. Also, you will need to take into consideration how your photographer works – and how many hours of coverage you will need.
Will a first look spoil my fiancé’s reaction when he sees me walk down the aisle?
My experience has been – no! Definitely not. I think when a first look is done well, the groom still has a “second” first look feeling as you are walking down the aisle. It’s a completely different feeling as you see your bride as the ceremony is commencing!
How is best to do a first look or reveal.
Keep it simple. Keep it quiet. Keep it intimate. The best first looks are just the bride and groom with their photographer and videographer. No bridal party…no family. No spectators of any kind in our opinion. Most photographers are pretty adept at helping you with your dress, so often times an extra bridesmaid isn’t even needed to help out. The more intimate the time can be the better. How you or your photographer sets it up after that is up to you or them (come from around a corner, back to back, down some stairs or have the bride walk up from behind the groom).
What is the benefit of a first look or reveal?
If you will have very little time in between your ceremony and reception start time, then certainly, getting as many photos out of the way beforehand will help. Also, if you are a couple that is wanting to take as much time as possible doing photos with each other and the bridal party, then you can control that amount easier by moving up your getting ready time and doing a first look. Lastly, it potentially gives you and your future spouse some very rare alone time on wedding day. Wedding days fly by and all too often couples have little to no alone time. If it fits within your time line and desires, they can be a great way to help seal another extra special memory. Just be prepared to fix your make-up afterwards.
Deciding whether or not to do a first look or reveal really comes down to what your initial plans and wishes are for your day. We can’t stress enough the importance of having a photographer that can help build your time line with you – keeping in mind your wishes and the structure of the day.