The topic of a first look has been around for quite some time, yet couples are still torn on whether or not to partake. Tradition says that “Couples separate the night before and are not to see each other until it’s time to walk down the aisle” but more and more couples are breaking that tradition, and for good reason.
A “first look” is when a couple chooses to see each other for the first time for the ceremony. Note: These a little more common at non-church weddings, but not exclusive. Let’s dive a little deeper into the pros and cons of having a first look.
So let’s start with the “cons” of having a first look.
- Having to get ready earlier… earlier pictures means earlier call times for hair, makeup and final touches. No matter which way you slice it, your wedding day is going to be a long day.
- Lighting… if you’re having a summer wedding with outdoor “first look” pictures, the lighting may be harsh, which could be difficult for pictures. A skilled photographer will choose the best locations on site for the best pictures though!
- Breaking tradition… there’s something magical about seeing your partner for the first time as they walk down the aisle (so they say!) but it doesn’t mean the magic will disappear if you do a first look!
- Building pressure… some people are very good at hiding emotions or keeping them private, which may cause a feeling of disappoint if the person seeing them for the first time isn’t crying or showing any overwhelming emotions during a first look. That person will most likely have that same type of reaction when seeing you walk the down aisle anyway, so don’t stress that!
- Timelines… based on the timing of your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, there may not be any wiggle room to have a first look. Remember to never rush your timeline or force anything to happen without having a proper flow. Often a photographer charges per hour. This first look may require additional fees.
Now let’s visit the “pros” of having a first look.
- Settle the nerves… wedding jitters are real for many people. Having a first look is a great way to take a deep breath and enjoy a quiet moment with each other to ease those feelings before the organized chaos of the day’s festivities.
- Quiet time… there’s nothing like being able to spend some quality quiet time with the person you love and what better place to do just that than right before you exchange vows with each other. This is the perfect time to meditate or pray together as well.
- Privacy… once your guests arrive you will have to entertain all of your friends and family who came to celebrate your love. A first look is the perfect way to have some private time together and then again with your bridal party.
- Emotion… a first look does NOT spoil the emotion for the ceremony! You will still have that same excitement and butterflies in your stomach as expected!
- Pictures.. the emotion expressed in a first look can be captured by your photographer and videographer together in one shot at a picturesque and secluded location. During the ceremony the shots can be captured but you will not be in the same frame. You also risk invited guests blocking the shot when they to be hero photographers using their smart phones.
- Timing… if you have a winter wedding, the sun will be setting somewhere between 4:30pm and 5:30pm. So your window of natural lighting for your pictures is early and fast. A first look is imperative to capture great pictures in natural lighting.
- That other special someone… it’s always nice to have your dad, brother or special someone who is walking you down the aisle, have that private moment with you and see you before everyone else, as well.
- Practicality… you paid all this money to have an amazing spread of food and drinks in your cocktail hour, right? A first look allows you to be a part of cocktail hour to enjoy all of the yummy food (and if you’re anything like me… eating is the best part of the day!) Your bridal party will also get to enjoy the cocktail hour food. Without a first look, most often you, your bridal party, and your family members are pulled away from cocktail hour for a formal photo session.
- More time… another reason to be in cocktail hour besides enjoying your food is to mingle with all of your guests and thank them for coming to celebrate with you. If you are not present during cocktail hour that means once your reception begins you will be taking the first 45-60 minutes greeting everybody instead of dancing the night away!
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to a first look. You have to do what fits your vibe and, of course, your timeline. As a wedding professional, I will always encourage a first look but the day is yours to plan as you dream it. Never hesitate to ask your wedding planner, photographer or friends who already are married for some advice! Happy planning!
Written by Jaymie Perez
Executive of Fun, Xplosive Entertainment