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More and more of my clients are having a wedding day first look. It has become popular for a number of reasons. I will cover those reasons here and share my thoughts on why, in general, I advocate for one.
What exactly is a “first look”? Quite simply, it is a designated time during the day before the ceremony that the bride and groom see each other for the first time. It is always set up and almost always by the wedding photographer since they would be documenting this moment (and an extremely important moment, at that.) Here are some main reasons why I believe that the couple seeing each other before the ceremony is advantageous.
First, it is more intimate. A first look is usually set up where the bride and groom can have a private moment. As your wedding photographer, I make sure that the first look is in a location that will give me the best possible light and vantage point. You can also have your wedding party and/or parents take part by watching from a distance or in the background. As a groom myself back in 2014, I can tell you that your wedding day is full of emotion. And the height of the emotion for me was seeing my beautiful bride for the first time. If a groom is going to emote, he is more apt to do so when there is no one around (as opposed to a hundred or more guests at the ceremony).
Secondly, you can get all of the obligatory wedding day pictures taken care of before the ceremony. You can then have more time to enjoy the wedding reception with your guests. “Posed” pictures, or the formal documentation of participants (immediate family, extended family, bridal party etc.), is taken care of beforehand. This is also a great benefit to me because I usually have more time for pictures overall. The day is less rushed and we generally end up with more pictures (what could be better than that?! 🙂 )
Lastly, it makes time between the ceremony and reception much shorter. This makes things more convenient for your wedding guests. Typically, there needs to be a minimum of 2 hours after the ceremony to get traditional pictures on the altar and any creative images that you may want to do on location. And this is AFTER the receiving line (if you have one) and all of the guests are out of the ceremony location. As I mentioned, normally, when you have a first look, you can join the guests for cocktail hour immediately after the ceremony concludes. If you choose, you can also do even more creative pictures (a favorite option of mine 😉 ).
I should mention that the majority of bridal couples maintain the wedding tradition of not seeing each other until the wedding ceremony. I am all for this. It’s a tradition, especially in the midwest. Anything that makes my clients day the day of their dreams I am all for. But if my clients are receptive, I will advocate for a first look and the timeline that it entails.
There are a lot of great benefits to having a wedding day first look. It’s more intimate. You can get all of your required wedding day pictures completed. And, you have more time with your guests. You can skip the first look and approach your day like most clients, but you will have a much tighter time line. And some cultures require it . Either way, make sure that you have the best day of your life and you get an experienced wedding photographer to document it all.
Here is a good article on wedding day first looks WeddingWire that goes over the pros and cons of a wedding day first look and another one that asks brides about it on Brides.com