Ah yes, this might be one of the most common questions I get as wedding photographer. "Should my partner and I have a first look?" For someone as sentimental as I am, it's a tough question to answer. And after photographing many weddings that featured first looks and the traditional ceremony looks (is that what you call them?), there still is no good answer I can give. But I've compiled some pros and cons to having a first look, and for those of you in the throws of wedding planning, hopefully this helps a little bit!
Pros to a First Look
- Scheduling: A first look often helps ease the stress of scheduling a wedding day. Since you're seeing each other before the ceremony, you can also take care of bridal party photos and family photos so that right after the ceremony, all that's left is final couple photos before the party. It makes things so much less stressful and helps you relax and take in the day, rather than running around, being worried about whether or not you'll be able to get everything photographed in time
- Quiet moment: Similarly, a first look allows you to breathe. It's gives you a quiet moment with you and your partner, to just be together, to bask in everything that has led up to this point, and everything that will follow. It gives you a little calm before the storm of getting in front of a crowd of people--because it's scary! It allows you to share in all the nervousness and apprehension and excitement that you're feeling, and to relax.
Cons to a First Look
- Timing: While a first look does give you more freedom around your schedule, oftentimes the first look then falls during the time of day when the light is pretty bad (the sun is directly overhead, causing harsh shadows). Between 9-11am is usually fine, and 2pm on is good as well, but it's that "high-noon" timing that is less than photogenic. But your photographer will have already scoped out a good shaded area for you two, so maybe this isn't much of a con at all. I'm just a sucker for that beautiful golden hour / morning light.
- Tradition: There's a lot of outdated wedding traditions, some traditions that are strange and weird, but there are some that are oh so beautiful. It's a matter of opinion, but I think the whole "don't see each other before the ceremony" idea is the height of romantic. In case anyone is curious, this is why my husband and I didn't have a first look, and instead opted to see each other first at the altar (and also because we would have had to do an off-site first look due to our venue being unavailable in the morning). The moments leading up to walking down the aisle were so nerve wracking (honestly, this might have been the most nervous I've ever been in my life), but as soon as we saw each other, everything melted away and it was just the two of us, there, finally after all our years together.
Granted, you get those same emotions from a first look. Okay, maybe there aren't any cons. I have read some articles saying that a potential con to a first look is the idea that you won't get the same rush of emotion when walking down the aisle, but honestly I don't think that's true. After all you've been through as a couple, and with every moment leading up to this day, it's all so beautiful that you'll feel emotional all throughout the day.
And if you are wanting to get a super emotional response from your spouse, don't sweat it. Let the emotions show themselves naturally. Don't worry about how the photos will turn out, because no matter what you choose, it will be amazing. After all, you're getting married!
Feel free to also check out my post about wedding day timelines here. And you are always free to contact me with questions, even if I'm not your photographer/videographer! The engagement season is shorter than you think, and should be fun, not stressful. It's gonna be the best day ever.