What exactly is a “First Look?” These days, any wedding photographer will tell you it’s when a couple intentionally sees each other on their wedding day before the ceremony.
Some of you may be gasping at the mere thought of this (it’s against tradition!!) – others might consider the trend old news. But truthfully, whether or not to incorporate a First Look has become one of the most important wedding decisions couples will make. The result is usually a combination of tears and laughter… but always full of emotion.
With all the reasons to have a First Look, it’s not the best decision for every couple. I have heard plenty of arguments both for and against a First Look, and most of the time I am 100% FOR it. Below you’ll find seven of my favorite reasons to have a First Look!
You want to spend as much of your wedding day together as possible. Especially for ceremonies that are later in the day, I always encourage couples to have a First Look early on. Everyone tells you your wedding day will be over before you know it, and – they’re right! If you’re apart until 5 or 6 pm, that’s a large portion of the day you could spend making sweet wedding memories.
This reason has 100% to do with photography. Depending on what time of year you’re getting married, the sun will set anywhere between 4:30 and 8:30pm. Keep in mind that for ceremonies later in the day (or after dark!), if you don’t have a First Look, there won’t be much time for “natural light” photos of you and your partner. What does this mean? No gorgeous greenery, no fall colors, no sunshine, no golden hour. Yes, we can take separate solo portraits, family and wedding party photos during daylight, but every single Newlywed photo from your wedding day will be taken with artificial light. If that’s not the aesthetic you’re going for, definitely consider (an earlier ceremony or) having a First Look!
It’s a moment you can enjoy together – ALONE! As the guests of honor you’ll have places to be, and a timeline to (attempt to) keep up with. Yes – your day will be filled with your favorite people, but there won’t be much opportunity for just the two of you together. Having a First Look guarantees a few moments of privacy on your wedding day. Some couples even choose to exchange personal vows during this time (instead of at the ceremony), which always makes for really unique and intimate photos.
Let’s face it: your wedding day is kind of a big deal. There’s a lot going on – the result of months of planning and decision-making. Of course you want it to be perfect! No matter how your emotions may be running, any nerves will melt away the moment you see each other (pinky swear!!). I’ve seen it time and time again. First Looks are one of my favorite things to photograph for this reason.
- More photos!
This might seem like an easy one, but it’s worth mentioning. If you have a First Look you’ll get an extra set of portraits together that wouldn’t exist otherwise.
- Stage fright.
Remember I mentioned how these get emotional? Imagine experiencing that moment in front of 100+ guests with all eyes on YOU. Be prepared to let those emotions run while on display – or not allow yourself to experience them fully. Even if you don’t consider yourself an outwardly emotional person, wedding days can be completely unpredictable (yep – you might cry!). If this does not sound appealing to you I highly recommend a First Look.
Have you been dreaming about the look on your partner’s face as you walk down the aisle, or as they walk toward you? Trust me: that moment will still be REAL and still be emotional. They will be just as excited to see you at that moment whether you’re apart all day or spend it together.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself! Below are several first looks I’ve photographed, and a few ceremony first looks for comparison. Meaning: there’s a mix here of couples who did see each other beforehand and couples who didn’t. See if you can tell the difference!
Featured couples and venues include:
Mary & William, Thalia Hall / Emily & John, Salvage One / Amanda & Rob, Rivers Restaurant / Erica & Eric, River Roast / Melissa & Anand, Room 1520 / Alex & Jason, Lacuna Events / Ben & Carla, Begyle Brewing / Eliza & Patrick, Chicago Athletic Association / Katie & Natalie, Ravenswood Event Center / Dana & Noah, ARIA Minneapolis / Brittany & Dan, Warehouse 109 / Jenn & TJ, Galleria Marchetti / Rachel & Jon, Cozumel, Mexico / Ariel & Aaron, Ignite Glass Studios / Justin & Lani, Cancun, Mexico