Spoiler Alert, I’m pro first look. Steve and I didn’t do a first look at our wedding, and it’s actually the one thing I would change if I could go back! Let’s talk about it, shall we? I’ll lay out how a wedding day looks with and without a first look, as well as some of the things I’ve learned as a wedding photographer.
With a first look, most of your formal photos take place before the wedding. You’ll get dressed, then go meet your partner for the first look! You’ll get to talk and hug and maybe shed a few happy tears with your favorite human. We’ll do some portraits of the two of you, then eventually will meet up with the wedding party and get those photos done. During the ceremony, I will be focused on the person coming down the aisle, while the second shooter is focused on the person standing at the altar. Most of the time, the reaction is just as sweet during the wedding. That only leaves family photos for after the ceremony, so you can join the reception quickly after your wedding!
So here’s why I like a first look:
- My husband is my person and the steady presence in my life. I know I would have been much more relaxed going into my own wedding if I had been able to talk to him that morning.
- Along those lines, the wedding day goes so fast, and a first look gives you an hour of time together with no one else competing for your attention. You’ll also end up with way more portraits because we won’t be rushing to get to the reception. Portrait time tends to be the first thing cut when something else runs late. I can do a lot with 20 minutes, but I can be much more creative with a relaxed hour.
- The timeline generally flows better – you can head to the reception immediately after family photos and get the party going 😀
The main reason to not do a first look is if you like the tradition seeing your partner for the first time at the altar. If that’s special to you, none of the rest of it really matters. It’s your day, so definitely stick with what feels true to you. Many couples choose to exchange gifts or letters before the ceremony without actually seeing each other, and this can be very sweet!
In this timeline, after getting ready we’ll do separate wedding party photos. Generally speaking, I will work with one of the nearlyweds and my second shooter will be with the other. We are in frequent communication and coordinate to make sure there are no accidental sightings. My ceremony process is actually the same, regardless of whether there is a first look. I will be focused on the person coming down the aisle, while the second shooter is focused on the person standing at the altar. Following the ceremony, we’ll do family photos, a couple of quick shots of the full wedding party, and your just married portraits. This generally takes about an hour, but I’ll take extra time when I can get it 😀
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