First-look wedding photos may not be the newest trend in wedding photography, but they’re still a hot topic. As your big day approaches, you’re probably wondering whether you want first-look wedding photos—or whether you want to wait until you walk down the aisle for your big reveal.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re sure to have seen the trend of having a highly anticipated “first look” moment. We see an anxious bride sneaking up behind her groom, tapping the back of his shoulder, and the reveal of the groom’s emotional reaction to his beautiful bride. It seems like a fairytale, and it looks even more like everyone is doing it these days.
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While the first look has been a rising trend, there’s still a fair share of couples that stick to tradition (or superstition) and save that special moment for the Altar.
So, why do it? Or why not do it? We’ll walk you through the pros and cons and let YOU decide.
What Is a First Look?
A First Look is a moment during the wedding day when the Bride and Groom plan to see each other for the first time. It allows couples to share this particular moment in a more private setting, unlike traditional weddings, where they plan to see each other during the ceremony. The first look is when a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day. This intimate moment typically makes for an emotional photo opportunity.
Traditionally, couples will wait until the ceremony before seeing each other for the first time. However, it’s becoming more and more popular to see each other just before the ceremony for some reasons.
The Pros of First-Look Wedding Photos
Couples should consider the first look for more than just the practicality of timing. It’s an excellent decision for couples who want to spend some quiet time together before the ceremony.
A First Look Will Allow More Time for Photos and Therefore, More Photos Overall
Usually, photos are taken during the cocktail hour between your ceremony and reception without a first look. That means you’re more pressed for time since you’re working on a tight timeline and your guests are waiting on you. But if you have a first look before your ceremony, you can allow for hours ahead of time to get all those perfect shots you’ve envisioned.
You’ll Have More Time to Enjoy Your Wedding.
Having a first look and taking all (or most) of your wedding photos beforehand means you’ll get to mingle and enjoy yourself among your guests during cocktail hour!
It Will Settles Your and Your Fiancé’s Nerves Before the Ceremony
On the day of, there’s a lot of buildup to the ceremony – you know you’re going to have to speak in front of a crowd of people, all eyes will be on you, you’ll be on camera, and you want everything to go perfectly. So it’s normal to have jitters! Seeing your fiancé before everything goes down should help you feel more comfortable and reassure yourselves that you’re in it together.
A First Look Will Be More Private and Intimate Than the Ceremony
Okay, considering your photographer and possibly some of your wedding party will be within sight for your first look, it won’t be completely private. But, a lot fewer people will be watching you, and your fiancé has that moment than if you have it in front of your entire guest count at the ceremony.
Doesn’t “ruin” Anything.
A first look does not spoil the ceremony. You’ll be overwhelmed with emotion no matter what, so if you want to see your partner, don’t skip it.
If You’re Worried About Crying, a First Look Might Get That Out of the Way
And if you do cry, you’ll be able to fix your makeup before the ceremony! A wedding is an intimate, emotional experience, and a first look means capturing a couple together at that moment. Yes, walking down the aisle is moving, too, but you’re not together in those photographs.
The Cons of First-Look Wedding Photos
Not sure you want a first look? Good news: You could wait to decide. Remember that you can always change your mind—even on the day of your wedding!—and opt for a first look if you decide you need to see your partner. A skilled photographer will be able to adapt and help you make that moment happen.
You’ll Have to Get Ready Earlier.
If you’re having a ceremony earlier in the day, a first look will mean you have to be ready even earlier than you’d planned, which means you have to start getting ready earlier, too. Starting the photography process before the ceremony means you’ll need to get an early start on your entire day. This means there will be less time in the day for you to get your hair and makeup regime completed, for everyone in the wedding party to get dressed and ready, etc.
Your Wedding Party and Family Might Get Bored During Pre-Wedding Photos
If you spend several hours beforehand taking photos, your family and wedding party will have to pay a lot of that time just standing around. You and your fiancé will be swept away to take ‘sweetheart’ photos, but the rest of the group will be left since they won’t be in all of the images, of course.
Lighting May Not Be Ideal
[First looks] usually happen during the day, when lighting is harsh. You’ll probably need to take more photos after the ceremony, anyway.
It Takes Away That “special Moment” at the Altar
The first time you and your fiancé see each other on the day of your wedding will be unique, regardless. But if you want that moment to happen at the aisle/altar, then a first look will take that away from you.
But while you may lose that special feeling at the ceremony, it’s not like your guests will feel any different. Your guests don’t have to know that you took pictures together beforehand! For all they know, that moment IS the first time you see each other, and they’ll feel the magic anyways.
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Or, it Could Be Awkward.
With your photographer and videographer documenting you, you might feel a little staged and uncomfortable in what is supposed to be a candid moment. Seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, instead, means you don’t need to worry about how you react or what you say when seeing your fiancé.
Your Dress or Your Bouquet Could Take a Beating
If you take a lot of your photos outside in the sun, your bouquet or boutonnieres could end up looking a tad dry and wilted when it’s time for the ceremony. More likely, the bottom of your wedding dress could pick up some dust and dirt…and then you’ll have to feature that as you walk down the aisle.
A Few Tips to Make the Most of Your First Look
Breaking the old tradition that the groom is not to see the bride before she walks down the aisle, some couples opt to have a private moment to greet one another pre-nuptials. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Limit Your Audience
It’s true; your moms may want to witness the first look. While we don’t discourage this, we encourage you to keep the viewing audience to a minimum. Moms, dads, and bridal parties are fine (and maybe only after you’ve had a moment to treasure alone). A first look might not be the best place to invite your grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles, though. With too many people, the intimacy of the moment is quickly lost.
Give Yourself Time
The actual first look may only take a matter of minutes, but giving yourself enough time to enjoy each other truly is crucial. A good wedding planner will account for this, giving you, your partner, and your photographer plenty of time to capture those special moments.
Use This Time for Formal Photos
The idea of taking formal photos (think: bride/groom with extended family, bridal party, parents, etc.) after the ceremony stems from the fact that the bride and groom will not see each other until they’re saying I Do. If you’ve opted for a first look, take advantage of the pre-ceremony time to get those formal photos out of the way. Save 15-20 minutes post-ceremony to wrap up any other images you’d like to take (i.e. one with your officiant or the fussy ring bearer who needed a nap before the I Dos). Keeping the post-nuptial photos to a minimum will allow you to enjoy your Cocktail Hour with your guests!
Allow Time for Touch Ups
If you’re seeing your groom for the first time, chances are there are going to be kisses, embraces, and a few tears. If you’re lucky enough to have your first look outside mid-summer, you also may be blessed with a few beads of sweat – how fun! Account for this in your timeline and use the other moments before your ceremony to dry your eyes, reapply lipstick, and for grooms, change your undershirt (trust us, having an extra tee beneath your suit shirt is clutch to feeling fresh!).
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Reasons WHY You Should Do A First Look On Your Wedding Day
It Calms the Nerves
If you’re the type of person that gets nervous around crowds, doesn’t like to be the centre of attention or gets anxious relatively quickly, then this is an excellent option for you. We’ve found that most clients are super nervous just before the ceremony, and those that thought they wouldn’t suddenly get a little freaked out. Let’s face it; your wedding is probably one of the biggest days of your life.
Depending on how involved you are in the process and your personality type, there can be a lot of internal stress built up to that moment of seeing each other for the first time. Don’t let me freak you out, though; you can get through it. However, doing a First Look will give you peace of mind knowing that your significant other will be there for you to help calm those nerves.
Time and time again, we see the stress fly away just after the bride sees the groom for the first time. It’s almost like a weight is lifted off their shoulder, and the rest of the wedding day activities are a breeze.
Way Less Risky
Is the reward worth the risk? Try to think more logically and less emotionally about your wedding day.
The reality is a wedding day only happens once. You set a date, pick a venue, and you’re set. Whatever happens, happens. Your wedding day is not guaranteed to fall perfectly into place. There are a lot of moving parts that you can’t control. Like bad weather, people running late, traffic jams, missing rings, a setting sun, etc. The list goes on and on for the potential of what could go wrong. So instead of betting against the odds, try planning things out with as little risk as possible. Plan for the worst and your day might end up being surprisingly pleasant. If you decide to do a first look, it means you can get all your pictures done and out of the way.
Seeing each other before the ceremony lets you finish all your bride & groom portraits, bridal party portraits and family portraits. So after the wedding, all you have to think about is attending your cocktail hour and mingling with guests who are eager to congratulate you. It also provides you with a backup time slot to finish your portraits just if something kept you held up earlier in the day. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.
The Feelings Don’t Go Away.
So you’ve been dreaming about your wedding day since the day you were born. Right? You’ve been thinking about how precious that one moment is going to be when you see each other for the first time. Right? Well, what if it’s not everything it was cracked up to be? What if it was special but just not THAT special. I don’t mean to be cynical here; I just want to lower the expectation level so you don’t have super high expectations for something that might not be exactly what you imagine. Mind you; I’ve seen some AMAZING moments because the couple opted out from doing the First Look. Times so sweet, I even thought maybe I should stop trying to convince everyone to do a First Look.
But at the same time, I’ve seen incredible moments at the ceremony just moments after doing a First Look. If the emotions are there, they are going to come out regardless of what you do. Seeing each other privately before the ceremony is much different than seeing each other in “Let’s Do This” mode as all your best friends and closest family members are watching. Here is a shot of a groom that did a first look moments before the ceremony. Trust me, and I have plenty more to prove it.
If you’re the type who doesn’t want to hear about a First Look, don’t do it. But if you’re the type that is a little open-minded and wants to know more, then a First Look might be right for you.
More Opportunities for Pictures
This one is probably our favourite because let’s face it; we want you to have more opportunities for great pictures. All that’s left is the photography to look back on. When Brides were asked (in two separate surveys) after their wedding, they wished they spent more money on 21% of brides wished they spent more on photography, according to these articles found on the Huffington Post and Shutterfly, which happened to be more than any other single item on the list.
Regardless of how you decide to use your MONEY, make better use of your TIME. This doesn’t mean you need to hire a photographer for 12hrs. You can be creative with structuring your wedding day timeline for optimal use. It is possible to have plenty of time for pictures and relaxation without killing the bank. Getting your photos taken on a wedding day shouldn’t be an exhausting process. For us, we only need about 1-2hrs total (for all portraits) depending on how many people you have in the family and bridal party. To see exactly how much time to allocate for your wedding, I’d encourage you again to look at this wedding day photography timeline. It will give you a much closer look at what your wedding day’s flow could look like.
In the meantime, think about this for a sec: You spent all year long at work on Pinterest, pinning those nice, bright, naturally lit wedding pictures. But you have a 5 p.m. ceremony time, and the sun is setting at 6:30 p.m. sharp, which means you still have about 15 minutes of available light before things start getting too dark for natural light. It sounds like enough time, but what happens if the ceremony doesn’t begin until 5:30 p.m. (which is pretty standard). That leaves you with 30 minutes for the ceremony and 30 minutes for family portraits, bridal party portraits and bride/groom portraits – Talk about a rush!
Now that isn’t always the case. You could certainly plan for an earlier ceremony time, do your bridal party portraits separately (bridesmaids with bride & groomsmen with the groom) before the ceremony, and give yourself a more little cushion after the ceremony focus on family portraits and bride/groom portraits. But you have to be okay with possibly missing your cocktail hour and having only one opportunity for bride & groom shots. Also, you have to hope that the lighting and weather during that golden hour will be nice to you. This approach works out just fine for most weddings, but if you’re not the type to take any chances, please save yourself the headache and do the first look.
Be Present at Your Wedding
This isn’t an overstatement. There are so much activity and things to accomplish on your wedding day that sometimes takes it all in isn’t possible—even more reason to have a photographer capturing those unseen moments right before you. Try thinking like this when planning your wedding: For every tradition, location or moment in my wedding day, something extra is required from either me or my day. So if that tradition of seeing each other at the ceremony is precious to you, other things have to be appropriately moved around to accommodate for both. There is only so much time in one day. Unless you have all the money in the world, let’s be realistic about your day but creatively plan so that you can have the best of both worlds.
Still unsure what to do or need to compromise with your fiancé? Consider a ‘first touch’ – you’ll even get that moment of being with each other before all the craziness sets in without ruining the surprise-factor at the aisle! You could hold hands around opposite sides of a corner or even just put some blindfolds on while you talk, pray, or have some peace together.
You could also consider doing a first look with someone other than your partner! Set up a reveal in front of your wedding party! Or, ask the photographer to snap some photos of the first time your parents see you. These “first looks” can often be just as raw and emotional as they look between couples. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
There’s no right or wrong answer. As we said, that moment that you and your fiancé see each other for the first time on your big day together will be unique and memorable, regardless!