Is a 'First Look' the right decision for your wedding?
'First Looks' have become quite a popular choice over the last few years for wedding couples. They've replaced trends like 'trash the dress sessions' (which were SUPER popular when I was getting married over a decade ago) and the couple not seeing each other before they meet on the aisle. Personally and for many reasons, I LOVE first looks as a photographer. Below, I'll share with you 5 reasons why you might want to go this route for your big day, and 5 reasons why you may not want to do this. These were compiled by polling my instagram followers about why they decided for or against it. What it ultimately comes down to is knowing what's important to YOU on your big day and letting that lead your decision.
Team 'First Look'
If you have a timeline worked out for your day that consists of a ton of family portraits that need to be taken after the ceremony, you may want to consider doing a first look with some wedding portraits incorporated into them. When I've attended weddings with several (dozens) of family group photos, it's left little-to-no time for the couple to have their portraits taken. If your timeline is super tight once the procession starts, think about what photos will matter most to you. If it's photos of just the two of you together, a first look may be the best option.
Get the jitters out of the way
If you know that your nerves can get the best of you sometimes, it may be a good choice to get them out of the way in private with your spouse before being in front of everyone. A first look can be a make-or-break for those who suffer from social anxiety (hey, me too) especially on occasions where they are the center of attention. Seeing your future-spouse first, taking a few moments to breath, laugh, or cry together before you need to be in front of everyone can save you from the fear of having it all spill out while you're walking down the aisle.
A Moment to Connect Before The Chaos
If you are super private about your feelings or emotions and would rather share them in a moment with only your partner, a first look is a way to make that happen. Wedding days can often be a whirlwind of emotions and go by so fast you don't even have time to look at each other for very long. Taking time before everything ignites means you get to connect and be present together. You have an opportunity to remind each other to be intentional about the day and remember that this is about the two of you.
Don't Keep Your Guests Waiting to hangout after the ceremony
I had several people respond to my questions about first looks saying that the main reason they did one was because they didn't want to keep their guests waiting during cocktail hour while they went and did hours of photos. A lot of people choose to do a 'first look' so they could hangout and enjoy their glorious guests after the ceremony and get straight to partying!
Winter Weddings require daylight for photos
If you decide to have a wedding in the winter, you'll likely need to do a first-look for your bridal portraits as there is a limited amount of daylight to work with. Take this into consideration when planning your timeline. I had a couple who were getting married on New Years Eve and thought they could do a first-look at 5pm. When I let them know the sun sets at 4:45pm at that time of year, they quickly realized they would need to move their day around if they wanted any photos in the daylight.
Team 'I'll Meet You At The Aisle'
High Value on Tradition
If tradition is something you value and honour, not seeing each other before walking down the aisle will likely be the option you choose. It is a long held tradition that some people adhere to simply for the sake of tradition, and that's totally cool! If you are planning a more traditional wedding, not seeing each other beforehand will be part of your day.
Want Everyone to See Your Reactions
If you want to share in the experience of seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day, and you want all your guests to see your reactions, meet each other at the alter. I have had several couples who wanted their partners reaction to them walk down the aisle captured.
Needing time away from guests after ceremony
Some couples prefer to sneak off by themselves after the ceremony, and take in the moment of being married while their photographer documents it. Whether it's a location right at your venue or you've planned to go and take photos somewhere else, sometimes a wedding couple needs those few hours to themselves before rejoining their guests and getting into the party/celebration mode.
Having to get ready SUPER early
If you want to be able to take your time while getting ready, sip mimosas with your girls, or play a round of golf with your boys, it will likely not leave you enough time for a first look. One of the cons to doing a first look is the need to start getting ready at the crack of dawn in order to have everyone at the designated location in time. If you're not an early bird, meeting at the aisle is going to be of great benefit and avoid any unwanted crankiness from having to wake up before you were ready to. Some of us just need our beauty sleep, mmmkay?
Parent/child first look instead
I have had couples opt for a parent & child first (ie bride & her father, groom & his father) look instead of the wedding couple. Those photos are incredibly touching and bring a different perspective to a first look. If you want to maintain the tradition of meeting at the aisle AND also incorporate a first look, this is a wonderful option.