Throughout the wedding planning process, there are a ton of decisions that need to be made. Should we get married in the mountains or the city? Do we hire a DJ or a band? What should we serve for dinner? Which song will we play for our first dance? But one question you may not have considered yet is “should we do a first look?”
For those who aren’t familiar, a “first look” (also known as a “reveal”) is a private moment between the bride and groom before the ceremony. Instead of seeing each other for the first time in the aisle, you’ll come together in a more intimate setting beforehand.
So why is this a thing? Good question. The first look has become increasingly popular with couples over the past few years. Roughly half of our brides and grooms this past wedding season opted for the first look. Here’s why:
You can do portraits before the ceremony
Everybody likes cocktail hour. I like cocktail hour. Hell, I like it so much, I wish it was cocktail hour-and-a-half. So why would you want to miss your own cocktail hour by taking photos the whole time? If you do a first look, you’ll be able to get some of your bride and groom portraits done ahead of time so you can enjoy a drink with your friends and family after the ceremony. Yes, there will inevitably still be some photos to do after the ceremony, but it will go a lot faster.
Bonus tip: keep your family photo list short and sweet and you’ll be sippin’ on that Stranhattan in no time!
It calms the nerves
Weddings can be stressful and, if you’re like me, you might feel a bit anxious before your ceremony. But doing a first look can help to ease some of that tension. There’s just something about going to a private, photogenic location and seeing your husband- or wife-to-be for the first time that makes the nerves melt away. Now you can take a deep breath and head over to the ceremony site relaxed and ready to do this thing.
You’ll get some awesome photos
Regardless of whether you do a first look, you’re going to get great shots of yourself walking down the aisle and your groom watching with bated breath. But if you do do a first look, you’ll receive those photos in addition. That means another location, another candid moment, and possibly another set of portraits that you won’t receive if you decide not to do a first look.
Okay. So now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why in the hell wouldn’t I do a first look?” Fair question. Couples decide not to do a first look for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they prefer a more traditional wedding in which the groom sees the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. Other couples aren’t very sentimental and doing a first look just isn’t that important to them. And sometimes, the bride and/or groom is running late and there simply isn’t enough time for the first look. Whatever the case, if you don’t do a first look, the wedding will still be amazing and your photographer will still get all the beautiful shots you’ve been dreaming of.
I should mention here that there is a sort of in-between option for those of you on the fence. If you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, but would still like a few private images from this part of the day, you can always do some “anticipation” photos. This is where you come together and say hello, or read private vows, or say a prayer, etc., but you don’t actually see one another. It has the same calming effect as the first look, but at the same time allows you to keep things more traditional.
So should we do a first look or not? If you’re asking me, the wedding photographer, my answer is yes, absolutely. But ultimately the choice is yours, as it is with the venue and the music and the food and everything else involved with your wedding day. Don’t worry about what you’re “supposed” to do. It’s your personal choices that will make your wedding unique, so go with your gut. There are no wrong answers.