To (First) Look, Or Not To (First) Look?

A debate many photographers have likely experienced with their clients is whether or not they’d like to d a “first look”.

What is a first look?

If you are unfamiliar with the term, a “first look” is when the photographer plans to capture the first look the groom gets of the bride. This is often done BEFORE the ceremony, which is why there is some debate over it. It’s not the traditional way of doing things, and some superstitious people tend to believe that the groom seeing the bride before the ceremony is bad luck. This is definitely a more recent development in wedding trends, and is becoming very popular for a number of reasons. Of course, as with anything, it has it’s down sides too. 

Are you stuck on deciding what to do?

The Pros. 

First and foremost, it’s just practical! 

If you decide that saving yourselves some time on the big day is important to you, and you might actually like to make it to your own cocktail hour, then a first look may be for you. After the ceremony, everything kind of becomes a whirlwind. The wedding has officially begun, and trying to squeeze pictures in between the ceremony and reception has the potential of getting delayed for lots of different reasons. Because of that, you can sometimes find the bridal party finally trickling in at the end of the cocktail hour and rushing to line up to be announced into the reception hall. It can feel rushed, and that might make it difficult to savor the moments. 

Practicality may also come into play depending on the season of your wedding too. In the wintertime, you are going to lose natural light a lot earlier in the evening, so outdoor pictures AFTER the ceremony might be tough to accommodate. If the first look is done, you can go ahead and get all of your pictures out of the way, assuming time allows, and the lighting will be just about perfect. 

You get a moment of privacy before the wedding begins! 

Once things get started, you are surrounded by every single person who is important to you, and it can be very difficult to take a moment to JUST be with your significant other. Everyone wants to talk to you, hug you, congratulate you; and rightfully so! You are the star of the show! 

A first look can give you the chance to take an intimate moment to reflect BEFORE the craziness begins. Your photographer can capture it, and then give you a moment. It might end up being your favorite moment of the day! 

Not to mention, you will be TOGETHER in these photos! That won’t be the case when you’re walking down the aisle. 

The Cons. 

It strays from tradition. 

If you are a stickler for traditional practices, the first look may not be for you. Many couples decide they want that moment you always see in the movies and on TV; the bride walking down the aisle, the groom glowing with delight and maybe some choked back tears, and all of your guests getting to witness that reaction. A first look is definitely a real and tender moment, but there’s just something magical about the traditional way too. 

It means you need an earlier start to your day. 

Usually, a first look needs to be completed well before guests start arriving, so that can mean you need to allow a couple of hours even BEFORE the ceremony. Get ready to set those alarm clocks! This means the couple and bridal party will need to be ready earlier in the day, and that might just not work for some people. As we know, it takes time to get ready! Plus, it’s a special time for the bride and groom to spend with the bridal parties. They may not want to feel rushed. 

Earlier start time means harsher lighting. 

There’s a reason they call the later afternoon into early evening the “Golden Hour” in photography. It’s the best kind of lighting to capture photos in! If you have a very bright and sunny day, and you are outside taking photos in the early afternoon, your lighting may be less than ideal. 

What it comes down to is what is most important to you, and that will be different for every couple. Weigh out the pros and cons, and go with whichever feels right!