It’s important to consider whether or not you would like to do a first look early in the wedding planning process, as this decision will determine the start time of your ceremony and how many hours of photography coverage you need. If your immediate reaction to the idea of doing a first look is absolutely not, you’re not alone. My couples often tell me “no” right away. However, after they learn more about what a first look is—and where the “tradition” of seeing each other for the first time at the altar really comes from—many have ultimately changed their minds!
I’ve photographed more than 150 weddings in destinations ranging from Wisconsin to Switzerland, and I have to tell you…I love photographing first looks and will always recommend them. Here are 6 reasons why I think you should consider saying “I do” to a pre-ceremony sneak peek with your future spouse.
6 Reasons Every Bride Should Consider Doing a First Look
Your hair, makeup, and flowers will be as fresh as possible.
Do you want to look your absolute best in your wedding day images? Then a first look is the way to go. Taking portraits prior to the ceremony ensures that your hair, makeup, and flowers will be as fresh as possible in pictures. No touch-ups required!
Doing a first look calms nerves.
It can be intimidating to have all eyes on you, but several brides have told me that seeing their fiancé prior to the ceremony helped them feel less nervous about their walk down the aisle. Taking portraits after your ceremony can be distracting since you’ll be focused on getting to your reception and celebrating with guests. Doing a first look earlier in the day will help you to remain fully present.
You get to go to your cocktail hour earlier and spend more time with guests.
Your wedding day shouldn’t be all about taking photos. You want to be able to spend time with guests, too! Keep in mind that if you don’t do a first look, you’ll need to set aside at least an hour and 15 minutes after the ceremony to take family photos, group bridal party pictures, and bride and groom portraits. Brides who forgo a first look often start to feel stressed out, as post-ceremony pictures can take quite a bit of time away from being with guests. By contrast, if you do a first look, you’ll be able to attend your cocktail hour and mingle with guests.
Doing a first look does not break tradition.
Did you know that the real reason brides and grooms were kept from seeing each other until after the ceremony is because, back in the day, the bride’s family did not want to risk a groom breaking off the wedding if he didn’t like the way she looked? Yikes! The true roots of this custom aren’t quite as romantic as we thought. My advice: Pick another “something old” to incorporate into your wedding day. This is one tradition worth tossing!
First looks make for truly emotional photos.
While some grooms tear up at the altar, this isn’t always the case—especially if nerves have kicked in. A first look is private and intimate, giving you the opportunity to experience the moment together without the pressure of everybody watching you. Without anyone present to anticipate your reactions, genuine emotions are able to shine through. And yes—I’ve still seen grooms have a tearful reaction during the ceremony after previously doing a first look.
You’ll provide a better guest experience for your loved ones.
Last but not least, adding a first look to your timeline will also allow your family and wedding party to enjoy the cocktail hour you’ve planned. They’ve been by your side every step of the way, and providing them with an amazing guest experience is the perfect way to show your gratitude. The best news? From experience, I truly believe that doing a first look will give you the best possible wedding day experience, too.
To see an example of a wedding photography timeline that incorporates a first look.