One of the first questions I ask my couples when we are going over the timeline of their day is, “are you interested in a first look?” So many things determine whether a first look is beneficial, and while at the end of the day it’s always your decision, I’m going to share some reasons you should consider this tradition-breaker.
What is a ‘first look’?
Traditionally, the first time a couple sees one another is at the ceremony, as one of them is walking down the aisle. A first look bucks tradition, and the couple sees one another before the ceremony, allowing time for portraits and some valuable alone time.
When is a First Look a good idea?
In my opinion, they’re always a good idea. Weddings are fast paced, and you don’t usually realize it until the day is over. A first look allows you and your future husband/wife to have a few minutes of alone time, just the two of you, before the craziness of the day really begins. Because let me tell you, once you say “I do”, you won’t be left alone for the rest of the night!
In reality, a first look is a good idea practically for a few reasons. First, if you are getting married in the winter months, the sun sets crazy early, which means less time for portraits around sunset. Unless, of course, you’re having an early ceremony.
Second, it allows us to get ALL your portraits done before the ceremony. Not just the couple’s portraits, but all photos involving bridal party and family as well. This is beneficial because you don’t have to worry about your dad (it’s almost always the dad) wandering off after the ceremony and putting us behind schedule for other photos.
Finally, if you want to be present for your cocktail hour, you’ll need to really consider a first look. Family photos, bridal party photos, AND couple’s portraits will take a minimum of 45 minutes (and that’s if we are FLYING through them and being super efficient). There goes most of your cocktail hour!
What if it’s just not for us?
That’s totally fine! No one can make this decision but you and your fiance. Work with your planner and photographer on timeline options that will allow you to maximize your schedule and get the photos you’ve been dreaming of! Speaking of timelines….
The biggest thing to consider when thinking about a first look is the time of your ceremony. Like I mentioned above, if you’re getting married during the winter months, you’ll be hard pressed for time before the sun goes down, unless you’re having an early ceremony.
Below are two timelines for a wedding that is happening in December, when the sun sets around 5:30, and it’s totally dark by 5:45ish. We’ll assume the reception ends at 10, which is pretty common. Again, every wedding is totally different, but this should give you a pretty good idea!
With a First Look
- 2:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos with Partner A
- 2:30 Second photographer gets getting ready photos with Partner B
- 3:00 Both partners get dressed
- 3:30 first look and couple’s photos
- 4:15 Bridal Party photos (Individual and whole group)
- 4:30 Family Photos
- 4:45 Everyone hides away before the ceremony; rest, touch up hair and makeup, etc.
- 5:00 get married as the sun is setting
- 5:30 Optional sunset photos, then enjoy the rest of the night!
- 10:00 Reception and photography service ends
Without a First Look
- 1:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos with Partner A
- 1:30 Second photographer gets getting ready photos with Partner B
- 2:00 Both partners get dressed
- 2:30 Partner A photos with bridal party
- 2:45 Partner A photos with family
- 3:00 Partner B photos with bridal party
- 3:15 Partner B photos with family
- 3:30 hide away for ceremony; rest, touch up hair and makeup, etc
- 3:45 get married!
- 4:15 Finish family photos
- 4:30 Finish bridal party photos
- 4:45 Couple’s portraits during cocktail hour
- 5:15 Reception begins
- 9:00 photography ends
- 10:00 End of reception
Alternate ‘first looks’
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how adorable it is to have a first look with your parents. Some of my favorite images are of mother’s seeing their sons for the first time (#boymom). And how adorable are these photos of Danielle and her dad? WORTH IT!