After shooting a wedding or 2 (Okay close to 150 at this point!) the question of "are you doing a first look?!" is always one of the first things I ask when helping my couple plan the photo timeline of their big day. Some hold true to the tradition of seeing each other for the first time when the bride walks down the aisle to her husband to be, and those who choose to do a first look really value having ample time for photos and having a more relaxed day.
If you're having trouble deciding which option is right for you, i'm here to help with a few pros and cons that I have observed over the years!
More Photos of The Two of You - Without a doubt, I always end up delivering more photos of the bride and groom if they decide to do a first look. We just simply have more time to create and even go to multiple locations. Having that time built in to the schedule allows you to spend as much time as you want taking photos together, which brings me to my next point...
You Won't Feel As Rushed - We will work together to create a photo timeline no matter what you decide so your day flows as smoothly as possible. Where you really save time in between the ceremony and reception is getting all the bridal party and bride and groom portraits done before your guests even arrive. I always save the family portraits for immediately after the ceremony (because all family members are at the same place at the same time) and then additional portraits of the bride and groom with whatever leftover time we have!
You Won't Keep Your Guests Waiting For As Long In Between the Ceremony and Reception - We've all been there, waiting for what seems like FOREVER for the bride and groom to come back to the reception so the party can start. I NEVER want to be the photographer responsible for your guests getting bored after one too many trips to the fruit and cheese appetizer table. This is your big day that you invited your favorite people to share with you, I want to make sure you have as much time with them as possible!
Nerves are Eased Before the Ceremony - Sometimes walking down the aisle to your groom can be nerve racking with hundreds of people watching. Seeing each other before can give you both a sense of comfort when you remove the extra element of suspense seeing each other for the first time in that aisle. You are also free to express yourself however you naturally would during a first look, whether that's a squeal, hug, squeeze, or kiss.
Breaking Tradition - Some people believe it's bad luck to see each other before the ceremony, others just want to hold on to that special moment, which I totally understand! I've captured some pretty epic moments of the groom losing it when seeing his bride for the first time. It's something that while the first look can closely imitate, it's just not quite the same!
You Might Need To Start Your Day Earlier - By doing photos before the ceremony we'd need to make sure we have 1 and a half - 2 hours for the first look, bride and groom portraits, bridesmaids, and groomsmen photos. If you've hired your photographer for a shorter amount of time, maybe squeezing in the portraits between the ceremony and the reception is the way to go. I still like to do the bridesmaids and groomsmen photos separately before the ceremony if time allows, that saves us at least half an hour of photo time between the ceremony and the reception!
Another option is to pray, or read each other letters before the ceremony without seeing each other! It's a good way to have a special intimate moment and calm your nerves, but still keep the suprise of the groom seeing the bride for the first time walking down the aisle.
Whatever you decide, I'm here to help you make the best of it! Neither one is the right or wrong way to do it. It's your big day and you're gonna get some killer photos regardless. Plus the best photos are usually the candid unplanned ones anyways. ;)
I'd love to hear from you! If you're married, did you do a first look? Are you glad you did? Let me know in the comments below!