To Do or Not Do a Wedding Day ‘First Look’ – Five Points to Consider

Over the last few years, First Looks have developed as a wedding day photography/videography option for couples.  Couples have opposing views on the subject.  Those against doing a First Look fear it will lessen the incredible moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time at the ceremony.  Other couples focus on the benefits of doing a First Look.

We tend to favor doing a First Look for several reasons.  Let us tell you why –

1. A Private Moment For the Bride and Groom to Connect with Each Other

Seeing each other first, privately (except for the photographer/videographer) allows time for a more intimate connection and exchange.  This may be the only time for this without the presence of the other guests.  The wedding day schedule is very busy with ceremony, family, friends, guests, reception and photographs.  So often we see the bride and groom kiss at the end of the ceremony, and then be whisked away into a whirlwind of scheduled activities, never even having a moment to share love and connection with each other.  The First Look allows for this one last special moment.

2. The Benefits of a First Look to the Wedding Day Schedule

Doing a First Look has huge advantages to the wedding day timeline.  Now, bridal party photos and family formal portraits can happen before the ceremony, rather than after it.

In the traditional format, all of the bridal party photos, family formal photos and couple portraits have to be taken after the ceremony.  Depending on the size of the bridal party and families, this typically takes 1 – 1 ½ hours.  Meanwhile, the guests are waiting; the reception can’t start until the bride and groom arrive.  Guests who are elderly or guests with young children are especially affected by the long wait.

Additionally, we find the couple’s photos tend to suffer the most.  The bride and groom have been posing in all the various photographs for at least an hour.  They are worn out and stressed knowing that everyone is waiting for them.  That stress is starting to show on their faces and it affects the quality of expressions in their pictures.  We have even had couples cut their photo shoot short due to feeling the pressure of needing to receive their guests.  This is one of the most important days of their lives, and a huge sacrifice to make!

Another huge benefit for the newly united couple is being able to immediately join their guests at the reception.  Instead of rushing to get there, they arrive at their reception relaxed and ready to enjoy, not worn down by hours of photographs. Start the celebration!

3.  More Couple’s Photos – Better Couple’s Photos

Doing a First Look provides the bride and groom with many more couple’s photos. Because of the extra time and less pressure, the photos tend to be more romantic, more expressive and more genuine.  The photographer/videographer will have more time to take the couple to different mini scenes and different lighting scenarios at the venue to lend more variety to the photos.

Most couples underestimate how long bridal party and family formals will really take. Bridal party and family wander off—to sit down, get a beverage, tend to a child, catch up with relatives, etc. Rounding them all up for the shoot at their specific time can be difficult, and result in the photos taking twice as long as planned—further wearing down the bride and groom.  The larger the bridal party and families, the longer it takes.

Another issue we have to deal with, is “everyone is a photographer”.  Family and guests will be asking the photographer to do multiple small group poses with special people for their cell phone photos, adding time far beyond what the professional photographer/videographer is requiring.

Bride and groom fatigue is something we see at most weddings.  The couple was up late with the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, didn’t sleep well mentally going over details,  had gotten up early and is basically running on adrenaline.

Once the ceremony is over, instead of being able to finally relax, the couple has a long, grueling photo session ahead of them. Those beautiful, romantic wedding couple photographs carefully pinned on Pinterest and earmarked in bridal magazines often get thrown by the wayside after a lengthy photo session with the bridal party.

After hiring a professional photographer/videographer, every opportunity should be made toy to create the beautiful, artistic images envisioned by the bride and groom.  The results should illustrate the love between the two, not merely the obligatory documentary photos of the wedding day.

4. Will a First Look Spoil the “Coming Down the Aisle” Excitement?  

Our brides and grooms who have done a First Look tell us it did not at all diminish the excitement and depth of emotion they felt coming down the aisle.  Knowing they were about to make a lifelong commitment to each other in front of family and friends made it totally a unique event. Their First Look experience was more about love, connection and private admiration of each other.  By doing a First Look, they actually received two experiences instead of one.  One experience was public, and the other was far more personal.

5. Are there drawbacks to doing a First Look?

While not necessarily a drawback to doing a First Look, it is imperative that all bridal party and family be informed all photos will be taken prior to the ceremony, and advised of exactly when they need to be there.

For some couples, religious or cultural beliefs speak against the concept of a First Look, and they want to honor those traditions and prescriptions.  But we also have some ideas on how to observe these beliefs and still take advantage of a non-traditional “First Look”.
The Decision

Whether or not to do a wedding day First Look is a personal decision for each couple to make. We hope we’ve been able to provide some points to consider in reaching a well-informed decision, and what will be best for the couple’s special day.

Article courtesy of Photographic Artistry and Images, Laurie, MO.