First Look

Ah, Wedding Traditions…  With so many, it’s hard for some Couples to figure out what to keep and what to change according to their modern-day preferences.  I normally do not stick my big nose in my Couples’ choices because it is their day, and they should have it as close to their visions as humanly possible.  However, this is something I feel quite strongly about, and when I spoke to some of my already Hitched Couples and Favorite Photographers, they happened to agree, so I decided to write about it.

Should you have a First Look, or should you wait until the Walk Down the Aisle to see each other for the very first time on your wedding day?

The resounding answer from experienced folks and from Couples from both sides of the debate is…(drum roll)…FIRST LOOK, ALL THE WAY!

Here are the Top 4 Reasons why you should do a First Look with your Love:

1. It Reduces Anxiety: You live together.  You say tender words to one another constantly.  But if you do not see each other until the latter part of the day, separated from each other’s sight since the night before, your heart will feel like it is beating out of your chest!  You will feel nausea.  You will be sweaty (pronounced:  shhh-wet-ee).  The long and the short of it:  You will be a mess!  In fact, Traci of Traci Burke Photography  writes, “If you cry, [during a First Look, at least] it allows time for makeup touchups…enough said!”  Have no fear, if you have a first look, there is still that tingly-butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling, but it is shared just between the two of you, and not for the whole audience to witness.  Plus, it is more along the lines of “excitement” than it is “anxiety.”  There is a huge difference.  You have no idea how many Partners — male and female — I’ve had to revive with smelling salts because they passed out from the bundle of nerves taking them over.  Is it worth it, for a tradition that is completely outdated?!  If you and your Love hang out all day, taking photos with each other, when it is time to walk down that aisle, you guys are totally fine!  And it becomes more enjoyable because it is excitement rather than anxiety.

2. You Get to Enjoy the Day TOGETHER! Mary of Key Moment Films  writes, “The First Look itself gets some really special emotional photos and videos! Sometimes it’s the favorite moment of the day.”  Your wedding ceremony is set to begin at what time?  5:00PM?  Later?  So…what exactly are you doing all day, then?  Not seeing your beloved?!  How insane is that?!  Think about it!  It is YOUR day to share TOGETHER, yet you are not even going to see each other until the evening?!  Madness, I tell you!

Traci of Traci Burke Photography writes, “You [and your love] get to actually have a conversation! When you see each other for the first time walking down the isle, all you can mutter is ‘you look nice, etc.’ and then the ceremony carries on. Being able to say what you want to say when you see each other is a huge plus.  [And] it will be the ONLY time you two are alone, until the end of the night…If there is no First Look, [you will] have to spend [the] whole day entertaining guests, greeting people, etc. and never actually get to have a moment alone with one another.”

Your wedding day is so super short, and it goes by even quicker than that, so savor every moment with one another, and begin the celebration of your love early in the day!  You get to share tender moments together, in private and with your Bridal Party, which allows for more candid shots from your photographer, without the pesky obstacles that a Ceremony usually produces — other people, chairs, cramped spaces, etc., as Mary of Key Moment Films claims.  Laughter, hugs, tears of joy, kisses, can all be caught on film!  Without stress, without worry.  And you will enjoy your DAY, not just the night, together!

3. Best Lighting for Photos?  Daylight, of Course! Traci of Traci Burke Photography  agrees, “Daylight is always better for photos, so missing the correct lighting can be disappointing for everyone!”  If for some reason you do not begin the ceremony on time, which happens way more often than you would think, the sun waits for no one, and you will be left in the dark…literally!  In fact, Julia of Darling Juliet Photography  writes,   “I’ve never photographed a wedding that actually started on time, and late starts on portraits when the sun is going down can often times bring a lot of unnecessary stress on a wedding day, and your wedding day should be anything but stressful!”  Without a First Look, and if the sun has set, your wedding photos will look like your grandmother took them with her 1987 Nikon Camera with a blinding flash!  Just awful!  However, for some professionals, like Nicki of Vitalic Photo, the First Look is based on your timeline. “Some ceremonies that are early would [actually] be way too bright for a First Look. Usually the winter months after the time change, when it gets dark early, is when we recommend them.”

Unless you are the exception, most ceremonies begin in the evening, so make the most of the gorgeous venue you selected after countless visits with others! Your photographer will be able to find all the beautiful nooks and crannies around the venue to deliver the most beautiful, magazine-photo shoot-like pictures ever! If not, your contrived, rushed photos will be shot…in the dark.  As Julia says to her Couples, “Better to be safe than sorry!”

4. Enjoy Cocktail Hour with Friends and Family: Don’t Miss it!  If you wait until the walk down the aisle, then that means you have to take a giant chunk of your photos during the Cocktail Hour!  Traci of Traci Burke Photography  writes, “Leaving everything for during the cocktail hour can make the photo process seemed rushed and not as fun…It also allows for wiggle room in the schedule to make up any missed photos during the cocktail hour (grandma didn’t show up in time for family photos, etc.) and It allows us to be able to capture the reception space untouched while the couple enjoys the cocktail hour. It also allows for an additional portrait session for the couple if they choose to do so.”

So, not only can you sample all the fab food you paid good money for, but you get a chance to mingle with the people you love most in this world, and grab any shots that may have been missed.  This also cuts the amount of trips you make around the reception room that night, thanking everyone and saying, “hello.”  If you spend the entire night doing that, your wedding will be over in a flash, and you will hardly have had a chance to get down and bring it on the dance floor.  Again, I cannot stress this enough: Your wedding day goes by so quickly, so the more precious time you can savor, the better!  You will have no regrets, and you get to enjoy it all: the people, the food, the music…everything you wanted and paid good money for!

Hey, look, it’s your day, and you should do what you want, but sometimes my Couple’s vision and practicality do not always coincide.  Just like every decision for your special day, weigh the pros and cons, and see how you feel.  When you think about it logically, however, doing a First Look with your photographer is a much better option than waiting until the walk down the aisle. There are so many benefits to having a First Look, Julia “could seriously write you an entire essay on the subject!”

A huge “Thank You!” to some of my absolute favorite photographers, in alphabetical order, who happen to agree with me and helped me with this advice column:



One thought on “First Look”

  1. I absolutely love the breakdown here. You are absolutely right, I think it will ease the tension so much. My groom and I will be doing this for sure, along with family portraits before everyone’s make up gets ruined with the ceremony. Wise words, thank you.

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