First Look Wedding Photos: Pros, Cons & Insider Tips!

Many “wedding rules/traditions” have been broken over the years and some for good reason! Our wedding photographers have been thrilled to welcome many of the changes in the wedding world like the legalization of same-sex marriage for instance! Because of this historical change and re-evaluation of what a “married couple” should be, we’ve had the amazing honor of capturing hundreds of same-sex weddings! While the introduction of modern wedding traditions like cakeless weddings and choreographed dances can’t compare to the serious cause of supporting equality for the LGBTQ+ community, the changes taking place in the wedding world speaks volumes to why couples should choose what works for them when it comes to their big day!

One of the decisions many couples face for their big day is whether or not to do a first look. As a matter of tradition, historically, couples would spend the night before the wedding separately (many couples who are already living together still follow this tradition) and see each other for the first time when the Bride walks down the aisle. However, studies show that nowadays about 50% of couples are choosing to forgo tradition and do a first look.

So what exactly is a first look and how does it work? Well a first look is literally the first “look” or the first time that the couple is seeing each other on the wedding day. As far as logistics is concerned with first look wedding photos & video, one spouse (typically the groom) will be set up facing the opposite direction that the other spouse is entering from. The spouse that is “revealing themselves (typically the bride) will then walk up, tap their fiance on the shoulder, he turns around and VIOLA!, the first look takes place. Of course during this process, our photographers are capturing every moment, especially the look on the couples faces as they see each other for the first time.

While some couples know from the beginning of their wedding planning process that they plan to do a first look, others are on the fence about whether or not they should. Our wedding photographers have captured hundreds of weddings with first look and just as many of couples that followed tradition and chose to wait to see each other, and their take is, there is no right or wrong way to do it.

However, there is a list of pros and cons to consider when making the decision on whether or not to have a first look on your wedding day!

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You get to attend cocktail hour!
All those delicious appetizers you chose for cocktail hour are often missed by the newlyweds because they are busy doing photos during cocktail hour. By doing a first look, you can attend cocktail hour and enjoy those cute mini sliders and cocktail shrimp cups you paid for!

Your couple portraits are less rushed
Our wedding photographers will tell you first hand, the big day flies by quicker than you think! If you don’t do a first look, the time for couple portraits will be much more limited (newlywed photos are usually done during cocktail hour in this case). By doing a first look, you can decide how early to start and how much time you want to spend on couple portraits with no rush!

It’s a great way to spend some time alone before the wedding
Once your guests start arriving your main focus will be to make sure your friends and family are entertained. Between organizing the wedding party, taking family photos and trying to stay on schedule, the two of you will barely have a moment alone. Doing a first look is a great way to have some quiet time alone before the day gets started.

You have to start earlier
Depending on the start time for your ceremony, and how big your wedding party is, doing a first look could mean starting several hours earlier than you had planned. This may not work for couples who want to relax the morning of their wedding and move at a slower pace.

The “first look at the altar isn’t really a first look
Many brides dream of the look on their husbands face when they see them at the altar for the first time and enjoy sharing that genuine moment with their loved ones. By doing a first look, the “look” at the altar may not be as dramatic as you may hope for being that you have already seen each other earlier in the day.

Insider Tips

Our wedding photographers and video team have been capturing weddings for well over a decade and have great tips on how to make your day go smoother especially if you choose to do a first look.

Tip #1
Keep it intimate
Our photographers suggest keeping the first look intimate. While it can be fun for your wedding party to be involved, the more intimate the better for a genuine reaction. Nerves are typically high on the wedding day and having the first look serves as a romantic moment just for the two of you before the big day gets started.

Tip #2
Double the fun
We suggest having a first look with your parents as well. The father of the bride seeing his daughter for the first time in her dress is always an emotional moment and great for photos! Even a first look with the bridesmaids is fun!

Tip #3
Do family photos before the ceremony as well
If you choose to do a first look, factor in time to go ahead and knock out your family photos as well. This way, once the ceremony is over you can have some time alone or choose to attend cocktail (one of the benefits of a first look)

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