Full disclosure- this post is pretty biased towards having a first look! In no way do I want to convince anyone that they should do a first look if you feel really connected to the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding. A wedding day timeline without a first look is totally manageable and couples who choose not to do a first look still receive incredible, beautiful massive galleries from us. But since many couples don’t know what a first look is or what the benefits could be, this post will go into those details.
So first off- for all of those who are still entirely confused: A first look is a trendy term for creating time in your day to meet with your partner prior to the ceremony. This allows you a few minutes together just the two of you before the day gets busy and provides extra time for portraits prior to the ceremony before guests arrive.
Ok, so that maybe that sounds intriguing to you- but you still don’t quite understand how that plays out an actual wedding day. Usually how it would happen is once you are both dressed and ready for the day, about 90 minutes before your ceremony time, your photographer will find a photogenic, private spot at your venue and set you two up to have a “reveal”. I usually set it up so one of you is facing away and the other walks up behind them and either calls their name or taps their shoulder for them to turn around for that “OMG” moment.
Your photographer will give you both a few minutes of relative privacy(no in your face shooting, more paparazzi from a distance style to capture your expressions). At this time you can enjoy each other’s reactions, share gifts or letters and just relish in the intimacy of the moment. After a few minutes your photographer will ask if you are ready to start some portraits of the two of you. If all goes well and you finish those portraits quickly you can move on to portraits with your wedding party.
For most people, when you started dreaming of your wedding day, you thought about seeing your partner from the end of the aisle and the look on their face when they finally see you! So many people get attached to that emotionally charged moment! And why wouldn’t you? It is such a special part of your wedding day! But what if I told you, that rather than each of you having that moment separated by 30 feet and 50 people watching, you could SHARE that moment together- intimately, just the 2 of you? If you share in that moment then you can actually tell each other the emotions, joy and excitement you are feeling about how you look and the adventure you’re beginning together.
When you see each other at opposing ends of the aisle, by the time you actually get to talk to each other about those “moment we saw each other” feelings, ALOT has happened(YOU GOT MARRIED) and there are SOO many other feelings to talk about! Those first feelings have been dwarfed a little bit. What if you could give that “moment you see each other” feeling it’s own occasion to celebrate? I promise that a first look and seeing each other then will NOT take away from the excitement of walking down the aisle! A first look just gives you 2 distinct exciting stages of the day!
Quite frequently on a wedding day, this time of doing a first look could be your only alone time during the day. For most of a wedding day, you are surrounded by friends and family and well wishers. Of course, that surrounding of love and excitement is so special, but a minute alone time together can also really help settle both of your nerves and allow you to feel like you’re heading into your marriage together.
After you’ve spent some time alone is where the logistical photography benefits of a first look timeline come into play! When you include a first look in your wedding day timeline you can expect to receive at least 25% more portraits on your day because our timeline isn’t as crunched and there aren’t any guests or a wedding coordinator telling us we need to get back to the reception at this time. This is also the perfect opportunity to get portraits done at any special locations that aren’t steps away from the ceremony and reception venue. (Hello more variety in your images)
We can also get all of your wedding party portraits done at this time prior to the ceremony! And do your know who loves being done with portrait responsibilities as soon as the ceremony ends? EVERY SINGLE WEDDING PARTY MEMBER EVER! Ok, but seriously, this is so key for wedding party members who may have other responsibilities at the reception(like MC, or moving decor from ceremony to reception) as well as your little flower girl who may be entirely overwhelmed by the end of the ceremony!
Usually what happens after the ceremony is that we will do your family formals immediately- these can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Once those are done, we will take another 10-15 minutes for a few “just married” portraits at the venue(this is a great time to use a spot at the venue that maybe we couldn’t access pre-ceremony due to guests arriving etc). Then you can head on in to your cocktail hour and enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and champagne and socialize with your guests. I usually recommend that you take this time to say hello to your grandparents and any young kiddos since they may end up leaving earlier in the reception- making this your biggest chance to interact with them.
With the exception of sneaking out during dinner for another 7 minutes of sunset portrait time- your portrait time is DONE!
If you’ve gotten this far- I hope you have a solid understanding of a first look now and have a much better idea if this is a good fit for you!