Deciding on a first look is sometimes a very straightforward decision. Some couples know they want one, some know that they don’t. But for many other couples, deciding on a first look is sometimes a pretty difficult decision. Honestly, I’m not biased one way or the other. I’ve seen some incredible first look reactions and I’ve seen some beautiful moments when a couple waits until the ceremony to see each other. The decision should really be based on what's important and what’s best for you. But I wanted to provide some information regarding first looks which can help you decide if you should consider doing one on your wedding day and what to expect.
First, what is a first look? A first look, or reveal, is when the couple take a moment before the ceremony to see each other. Typically, if you’re choosing to do a first look, you’re also doing all of the portraits before the ceremony. (Bride and Groom Portraits, Family Portraits, Bridal Party Portraits).
Let’s talk about a few of the things to take into consideration when deciding if you’re going to do a first look.
When will be the first time we see each other?
- With a first look, the ceremony will not be the first time you see each other. If seeing each other for the first time in the ceremony is something meaningful to you, don’t compromise and don’t do a first look.
- If you’d rather take a bit of the nervousness away or you want your first glimpse of each other to be more intimate, and the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony is not a factor, consider doing a first look. You’ll most likely see each other for the first time about two hours before your ceremony.
Will we be at our cocktail hour?
- This depends on a few factors. If you’re having all your wedding events in one location, (specifically if your ceremony will happen at yoir venue) without a first look, a very good chance that you WILL NOT be at your cocktail hour. This is because in this scenario, your cocktail hour is the only time we’ll have for pictures. If your ceremony and reception are in different locations, you could technically space them out so that you have time for pictures and time to join your cocktail hour all between your ceremony and reception. If you’re choosing to do a first look and all portraits are done before the ceremony, then you’ll have your cocktail hour free to either spend with your guest, or relax and unwind in your bridal suite at that venue.
When will I have to be ready?
- I usually recommend that the bride get into her dress 45-60 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Whether you’re doing a first look or not, we’d want to get you into the dress about 45-60 minutes before you’re scheduled to leave to that way we’ve allowed enough time to get all the images we need during the preparation part of the day and we’re still on time for the next event. For the guys, we’d want to get you dressed about 30-45 minutes before you’re scheduled to leave to the next location It’s very similar to the bride prep in that we want to get some detail shot, some candids and some individual portraits of you all before heading to the next location.
How much time will I have for portraits?
- If you don’t have a first look. And If your ceremony and reception are in the same location, most likely you’ll be limited to 60 minutes for ALL portraits. This is usually during your cocktail hour and this sometimes get shortened if there are any delays in the beginning part of the day for example if your ceremony starts late for any reason. This may mean less images during the portrait section of the day. If you’re doing your ceremony in a different location, or if you do a first look, again, you can build in time based on your preferences and have the opportunity for more portrait images.
So Should we?
My first recommendation is that you don’t compromise what you want. If you’re set on seeing each other for the first time during your ceremony, don’t compromise that moment. Although we may not have as much time for portraits which does mean less pictures, we’ll still have an opportunity to make beautiful images.
My second recommendation is mainly based on the setup for the wedding day. If you’re already set on doing a first look or if you are having your ceremony and reception at different locations, you can build in as much time as you’d like for portraits. But if you’re having all events at one location, consider a first look since your portrait time will be limited. If you have specific questions while deciding if you’re doing a first look, feel free to reach out to me anytime!