First looks are getting to be pretty common in weddings these days, but if you've never heard of it (a lot of grooms still haven't), it's basically when the bride and groom choose to see each other before the wedding ceremony. It's usually a private moment where they can hug and kiss, she can show him her dress, and they can both get their nerves out of the way.
The decision of whether or not to do a first look is totally up to my clients, but I always want to make sure that they understand how a first look can change their wedding day. Here are some of the advantages to doing a first look.
- The couple can enjoy at least part of cocktail hour because they only have to do family pictures after the ceremony. So they can enjoy those yummy appetizers, get the party started, or just take off those painful shoes!
- They don't feel nervous before the ceremony, because they're together instead of essentially locked in a room until 'go' time. I've heard many nervous brides say "Once I see him, I'll be ok."
- The schedule has more buffer time in case something runs late, which keeps the bride and groom from stressing out.
- He has a chance to tell her how beautiful she looks. He can't do that while the officiant is talking.
- The couple has a private moment to themselves on their wedding day. They probably won't be alone together for the rest of the day! This is their chance to breath and just be together before the events of the day really get going.
- Less of a time crunch during portrait time. (But this doesn't mean that we spend hours and hours taking portraits either!)
- Doing all the bridal party photos before the wedding has a couple of advantages: The bridal party isn't tired, hot, or hungry yet, and after the ceremony, they can enjoy cocktail hour.
- Sunset time usually isn't a factor. Most venues choose their ceremony times based on what time the sun sets, and early spring and fall weddings may have less portrait time because it gets dark much earlier in the day. Doing some of the portraits before the ceremony (typically bride & groom and bridal party) usually keeps that from being a problem.
- The couple doesn't have to keep guests waiting in order to get all the photos they want.
- If the couple wants a lot of portraits or wants to use more than one location, we can plan time to accommodate for that. We can also set aside 15-20 minutes right before sunset for portraits.
- The couple actually spends more of their wedding day together. The first look is usually about 2 hours before the ceremony, so that's more time they can be together.
- We are able to photograph the guests mingling at cocktail hour, which is much more flattering than when they're eating dinner. (And since not all guests are big dancers, this is a great way to get more candid photos of the guests.)
When the couple decides not to see each other before the ceremony, post-ceremony photo time is a flurry of activity. It's delicate balance to get all the pictures the bride and groom want without making them feel rushed or stressed. But in spite of all these advantages that I've listed, a first look is not the right choice for every couple. It's their wedding day, and I don't want them to have any regrets.