A question I often receive from couples planning out their wedding day is "What's this whole 'first look' thing? Is it just some trendy fad we're going to regret later? Are there any advantages to scheduling a first look into our day?" For those of you in that position: you are not alone! Here are four great reasons to go for a first look, if that's something you and your partner are considering.
1. Chance to enjoy a (mostly) private moment with your partner, share in the excitement of the day, and diffuse stress. Let’s be real: there is a lot of pressure put on "seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony” (particularly for heterosexual couples). However, when that moment actually comes, the fact that there is a crowd of people watching you can affect the expression of true emotion (by either stifling it or making it over-the-top performative). With a first look, you get to have some time together (with your photographer snapping quietly in the background) to really soak it in and be in the moment together. In my experience, this doesn't "take away" from the first moment in the ceremony (which is what I think many people worry about) but it actually relieves a little bit of the tightness and stress and allows for people to be purely excited in the ceremony vs excited and nervous and self-conscious about how they are reacting, etc. I describe it as getting a two-for-one deal: you get the pure joy and stress relief of seeing each other beforehand, sharing a kiss or hug or squeeze and maybe a tear or two without having to worry about people watching you AND you get the joy and excitement of seeing each other at the ceremony, but are able to be a little more relaxed and present!
2. More time in the day spent with your partner. With a first look, you get to spend more time on your wedding day together, and that is awesome. You only get one wedding day! Almost every couple who does a first look remarks about how happy they are that they were able to spend a little more time together during the day, because it goes by so fast!
3. Better schedule flow (and actually going to cocktail hour). If you opt for a first look, you can also get lots of the formal photos out of the way before the ceremony even starts, like family groupings or wedding party shots with everyone in them. Without a first look, pre-ceremony photos are usually person one + their family / person one + their side of the wedding party and then person two + their family / person two + their side of the wedding party, but after the ceremony you have to call everyone together again to do shots with everyone together. With a first look, afterwards you can do whole wedding party shots in addition to the separate ones, the couple with each person’s family, etc. That means that between the ceremony and reception, you can spend some time with your photographer taking photos of the two of you and then you can actually go enjoy your cocktail hour.
4. Guaranteed good light and good angles for your photos. Because your photographer will help you choose a spot for a first look, you are guaranteed beautiful light and nice photos of the moment. With the first-moment-walking-down-the-aisle scenario, because weddings are uncontrolled events, there's always a chance that the light will look less-than-ideal, or that someone will jump in front of your photographer, or something else will go awry that will detract from your photos. With a first look, you get up-close and lovely photos of that very special moment without having to worry about things outside of your (or your photographer’s) control.
*Ultimately, doing a first look or not is at the discretion of each couple, and any decision that reflects your wishes is a choice well-made. This list is meant to be a resource for couples considering doing a first look but who aren’t aware of the benefits.