Updated: Feb 17
After shooting weddings for a few years now, Laura and I have noticed some trends. We have seen couples who value their reception more than their ceremony. These couples really enjoy partying and spending more time with family than a formalized event. We have seen it the opposite way too. We see weddings that have an hour-plus wedding ceremony and rush through the reception. We have seen some couples who put a huge emphasis on their cocktail hour, with more food stations than a normal person can eat through. We have seen some couples not even attend their cocktail hour. And this leads us in to the single most divisive trend we have seen during weddings. And that is this: should you or should you not do a first look?
We have talked to many couples who have had opinions in both directions. Some couples like to have a more formalized approach, where the first time the groom sees the bride is walking down the aisle. Other couples enjoy doing a first look. These are the five reasons why we think you should do a first look.
1. The Couple Gets to Enjoy Their Cocktail Hour
Wedding day goes by really fast. Cocktail hour is a great opportunity for a couple to talk with all their guests. This is the one moment where you can mingle and greet everybody and where you’re not on center stage. You also planned out what you want served during your cocktail hour, so wouldn’t you like to be a part of that experience? Who wouldn’t want to enjoy some fried mac and cheese or fried calamari after running around all day?
2. More Time for Couple’s Photos
If a couple doesn’t do a first look, this would mean any photos taken of the couple together, along with family photos, wouldn’t get taken until after the ceremony. In many instances, a couple has both the ceremony and reception in the same location. Typically, right after the ceremony we move in to cocktail hour, and then in to the reception. This doesn’t give much time to get these photos done. This would leave cocktail hour as the only time to get all the photos taken and it gets more difficult to pull family away as they're eating.
3. Hair, Makeup, and Flowers Will Be as Fresh as Possible
Wedding day goes by fast, and you’re going to be moving from one moment to the next. You will typically spend a few hours in the morning getting your hair and makeup done to make sure you look great for your big day. As the day goes on, the flowers will begin to wilt after getting passed around and hair and makeup will start to wear with the weather. Doing a first look earlier in the day will insure that everything is looking its best in all your photos.
4. Doing a First Look Calms the Nerves
Your wedding day is, of course, going to be all about you. You’ll have eyes on you from the moment you start getting ready to the last song of your reception. Seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day is a big moment, and that moment can feel like a lot of pressure. Being able to do that separately from reciting your wedding vows and saying "I do" can help ease the nerves a little bit in both situations.
5. Truly Emotional Photos
Lastly, tying into the last point, stage fright is a real thing. Walking down the aisle and with all eyes on you can do some magic to the nerves. Having the opportunity to see each other alone can really pull out the most natural emotions. This also gives the couple the chance to have a moment for themselves. You share so much of the day in the spotlight with others. This is your time to focus on each other and have a moment that is unique to both of you.
At the end of the day, we value any decision a couple has towards whether or not to do a first look. We love being there when a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day, regardless of where and how it happens. What do you think? Is a first look the way to go?