We’re not the first photographers to write about the pros and cons of doing a first look. And we won’t be the last! But we wanted to share a little bit about them from our perspective, since we did one at our wedding and LOVED it!! We’ll also share some hesitations we’ve heard and why so many of our couples have chosen to do a first look!
If you don’t know, a first look is when the bride and groom choose to see each other in an emotional private reveal before the ceremony, rather than waiting until the she walks down the aisle.
We know, we know… This totally breaks with tradition!
But for most couples, the benefits totally outweigh their desire to follow every single tradition on their wedding day. So let’s talk about why!
First of all, it makes your day so much more relaxed.
Our TOP priority for you two is making sure you have the most relaxed, stress-free wedding day possible! We want you to enjoy every beautiful second of it together! And a first look is one of the best ways to make this happen.
A first look allows you to get the majority of your portraits out of the way before the ceremony. This means we won’t be rushing through the portraits trying to get you to the reception before cocktail hour ends! You’ll be able to do your romantic portraits, bridal party portraits, and in the best cases even the family portraits, done before the ceremony! Then, all that’s left is to capture a few epic “just married” sunset photos… And you’ll be free to enjoy the party together with your family and friends!
It gives you two chances to get the shot!
A first look is basically an insurance policy for your wedding day. It means that we have TWO chances to get amazing photos of the two of you!
For example, if the morning runs a little behind, any photos we didn’t have time for before the ceremony, we’ll still have time for afterwards!
Or if you’re having a winter wedding and the sun will be gone by the time your ceremony is done, we’ll already have tons of gorgeous daylight portraits to fill your gallery!
Or if it downpours after the ceremony (as it sometimes does – hello, Florida weather!) and we can’t take any photos outside, we know we’ve already taken plenty before the ceremony!
It only ADDS to your wedding day!
We’ve heard so many people say that doing a first look takes away from the magic of the bride walking down the aisle. In our personal opinion, this is absolutely not true!
First of all, doing a first look doesn’t mean you skip the aisle moment. You will still have to walk down the aisle toward your handsome almost-husband in front of all your friends and family!
Second of all, the two moments are totally different experiences, so one can’t take away from the other!
A first look is private, just between the two of you. Since your guests aren’t watching, and you don’t have to move right into the ceremony… You actually have time to tell each other how awesome you look! You have the chance to laugh, cry, and maybe even pray together or exchange private vows.
But that moment when you’re walking down the aisle? It’s still SO powerful! The music swells. All your friends and family are watching and wiping away tears. You lock eyes with the love of your life, and time seems to stop.
(P.S. You can totally wow him with two different looks by skipping the veil for the first look, and then adding it for the ceremony! A veil changes everything!)
If he’s gonna cry, he’ll cry.
We’ve had some brides tell us that they’re scared to do a first look because they really want to see their future-hubby cry when they walk down the aisle.
We always tell them to be careful with this expectation! Some guys are just not emotional like that. And if she’s rarely seen him cry before, it’s unfair to place that expectation on him! Especially during the ceremony when there will be so many people watching him!
If anything, doing a first look gives you the absolute BEST chance at seeing your man shed a tear or two, because there are TWO chances to do it!
Some guys will cry during the first look, but not during the ceremony, because they feel more comfortable expressing those emotions in private with their love. Some guys won’t cry until the ceremony, because the music and the magic of the moment brings their emotions out!
But we’ve actually found that MANY guys (including Chris!) will cry both times. In fact, we both bawled during the first look AND that special aisle moment!
So don’t skip a first look just because you’re afraid your future husband won’t get emotional. If he’s going to be emotional, he will, and if he’s not, he won’t. Just know that he thinks you’re the most STUNNING bride on the planet, no matter what!
You get to enjoy cocktail hour!
This is one of the number one reasons why our couples LOVE first looks.
Guys, you’re planning an awesome cocktail hour for your family friends, and without a first look, you won’t even get to SEE it! You might not even taste all the yummy hors-d’oevres you’ve chosen, or get to have one of your signature drinks!
Plus, your cocktail hour will probably have to be more like cocktail two-hours if you still want any portraits together. All your photos will have to be done after the ceremony, and an hour is usually just not enough!
But not only that…
Our C&M couples are the kind of people who absolutely LOVE their family and friends. They have the sweetest family and the best support systems ever! And they want plenty of time to hang out with all the people they invited!
So how do they get more time to make sure they get to hug all their amazing guests?
They do a first look, so they can get their post-ceremony photos done in a snap and start enjoying the party!
The saddest reason: Sometimes guests with smartphones ruin your aisle moment.
Normally we can work around it, and we promise that you’ll always still get good photos of that moment…
But sometimes guests are so excited about your wedding that they step into the aisle and get in the way of our photos!
And maybe the aisle is too short, so we can’t jump in front of them to get that picture perfect moment.
Or even worse – a guest will jump in front of YOU, and you won’t be able to see your fiancé because someone is standing in the way trying to get their perfect shot for instagram stories!
Your moment will still be captured, and it will still be a beautiful photo! But what should be a clean, uncluttered photo focused on you and your fiancé… Will be filled with distractions that draw the eye away from your flawlessness and towards people’s cell phones.
We can’t entirely control how many phones pop into your ceremony photos, but we can absolutely make sure you have great photos of the time you first laid eyes on each other for the first look.
And the best reason: You get so much more time together!
I had heard photographers say that doing a first look “extends your wedding day by several hours,” but I never fully understood what they meant until it happened to us.
The morning of our wedding was SO hectic and stressful for both of us, and we couldn’t wait to see each other! Because we had a first look, we didn’t have to wait until the ceremony (what would have felt like the entire day since our ceremony wasn’t until almost dinnertime!). The whole day was supposed to be about us celebrating our love, but without a first look we would have barely gotten to see each other all day! What’s the point of that?!
Instead, we got to see each other not long after lunch, and then be together almost every second for the rest of the day!!
That moment during our first look, when we got to see each other and wrap each other in the biggest hug ever, was the moment all our stress disappeared. It was the first time we got to truly relax all day and just enjoy being in each other’s arms! And to think we might have had to feel that stress for several more hours… That would have been awful!
That’s when we finally understood our FAVORITE benefit of the first look.
A first look gives you more time to just hold each other and be together on your wedding day.
And that reason alone is why we will never regret choosing to do a first look <3
Are there any cons?
There aren’t very many cons to doing a first look, but these are the ones we can think of:
- It breaks tradition, and for some people, tradition is really important. You may have to have a difficult discussion with parents who don’t love the idea of a first look!
- You’ll need to begin getting ready earlier in the morning to take photos before the ceremony!
- You may need to retouch your makeup before the ceremony (but we always budget time for this in our couples’ timelines whether they do a first look or not!).
- Your flowers will be outside earlier, which means more potential for wilting pre-ceremony. Just put them in water between the first look and the ceremony and they should perk up! And ask your florist which flowers are liable to wilt (e.g. stay FAR away from hydrangeas, and from any greenery like “dusty miller” that has super soft fuzzy leaves! We always see those wilting first!)
- Depending on the logistics, sometimes a first look will mean adding extra time to your wedding day timeline. This can potentially mean paying your vendors for additional time (which mainly happens when your wedding has multiple venues or photo locations. We always recommend trying to book a venue where you can do everything on the same property! For examples, check out our favorite South Florida estate venues!).
So first look: yes or no?
Listen, we LOVE first looks. We wholeheartedly believe that they relieve SO much pressure on a wedding day! They allow our couples to be present and enjoy their day.
Weddings are stressful enough, so ultimately our dream is for you to have the most relaxed day possible. We want you to be able to spend every possible second with each other! This is what we believe (and know from personal experience) that first looks can do for our couples!
But it’s your wedding day, and we would never force you to do something that isn’t a fit for you. Whether you do a first look or not, we will work our magic to capture the unique, wonderful amazingness of every single moment! And you will have the absolute best day <3
July 16, 2019