At the beginning of my career as a photographer, the First Look was not a thing. Every couple waited to see each other until the long-awaited walk down the aisle, just like every couple had for decades before them. Then this thing, that became known as the “First Look” began to gain traction. At first, I left the decision entirely in the hands of my couples. It wasn’t a decision for me to make or even have any influence in.
But over time I was able to witness how vastly different a wedding was with a First Look vs. a wedding without, and how much happier and less stressed my couples were when they chose to do so.
It turned out, what I once considered a trend had actually become a wonderful, meaningful new tradition that was allowing couples to get so much more enjoyment and far less stress from their wedding day. I’d love to share why every single one of my couples that chooses to see each other prior to their ceremony is elated that they chose to do so.
First, a little bit about what the First Look is:
Typically it’s in a beautiful, quiet location (chosen by you or your photographer) where the two of you may start your day together with a private moment (that may be unobtrusively photographed by your photographer if you choose). Doing a First Look does not mean giving up that magical moment when you see each other for the first time. You’re simply doing it in a different way. A way that actually lets you soak up that moment for longer. The walk down the aisle happens so fast and in front of everyone but the First Look can last as long as you like and gives the two of you the time to really take it all in. When you finally do walk down the aisle, it’s just as good because it still comes with the weight and excitement of the commitment you’re about to make.
Here are six reasons why couples love seeing each other prior to their ceremony:
1. More time together.
Most weddings I photograph hold their ceremonies around 5pm. It seems ironic that on a day that is solely dedicated to two people in love, those two people don’t get to be together until the sun has nearly set. Then, once you are together, you’re sharing your time with 100, 200 or more other people. With a First Look, you’re not only spending more of your wedding day together but you’re carving out a piece of the day for just the two of you.
2. More time with your people.
I think most of us can agree that one of the best parts of a wedding is getting to be in a room with all of your most favorite people in the world. How many times in your life will both of your families and all of your friends come together again to celebrate YOU?! So why would you give up your cocktail hour to take photos when you could get those out of the way before the ceremony? With a First Look, I can complete Bride & Groom portraits, immediate family photos and bridal party photos all before the ceremony has begun. This leaves cocktail hour yours to enjoy! I always tell my brides, if spending the maximum amount of time with family and friends is of utmost importance to you, do a First Look!
3. A more relaxed pace.
It’s much easier to dedicate an hour to photos prior to the ceremony than after the ceremony. When doing photos before the ceremony, you’re simply enjoying the moment. The only ones around are your bridal party and immediate family. It’s like a little private party before the big party gets started. Once the festivities begin, there is a lot going on and a lot to take in. At that point, I want you to be able to just soak it all in. With a First Look, portraits are 90-100% complete.
4. More cooperation.
One of the biggest challenges I face at every wedding is cooperation from the bridal party and sometimes the family too. “I’m so excited to have my picture taken” said no wedding guest, ever. With a First Look giving me the opportunity to complete portraits before the ceremony, I’m not keeping anyone from socializing. Everyone is so much more cooperative pre-ceremony and I’m rarely waiting on people that keep wandering off to the bar and the bathroom.
5. More photos.
A First Look not only leaves you free to enjoy cocktail hour but also allows me the time to capture more photographs than just your portraits. I have plenty of time to get wonderful candids of your friends and family as well as casual group shots at your request.
6. Keeps logistics simple (eliminates panic).
Whether you’re transporting to your wedding in a gondola, car or walk thru the woods, it’s so much more fun doing it together. It’s also WAY easier not trying to plan out how to keep the two of you out of sight from one another. And with nerves and emotions already running high, it makes for a much calmer lead up to the ceremony when everyone isn’t in a panic about the two of you crossing paths.
If you would love to do a First Look but your fiancé or parents aren’t convinced, pass this along to them to give them an idea of what the First Look is all about and all the perks that come along with it!
Hi there! I’m Michele, owner of ONCE WEST. I photograph weddings and families in Idaho & Colorado with a mission to create authentic, joy-filled photographs that honor the simple fact that we never get the same moment twice. When I’m not working you’re most likely to find me camping or flying with my husband (and bff) somewhere around the Mountain West.