Should we do a first look? How should we decide between a first look and traditional walking down the aisle? What are the top reasons to do a first look? If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place!
Over the course of this blog post we’ll explain exactly what a first look is and our top reasons why you should do a first look on your wedding day.
Historically, couples have avoided seeing each other on the wedding day prior to the ceremony due to a common superstition that it was bad luck. In recent years, it’s become far more common for couples to share a “First Look”, in which they see each other all dressed up in their wedding attire prior to the ceremony, usually in a private moment away from family and friends.
Many couples are interested in doing a First Look for a variety of reasons. Spending more time during cocktail hour, simplifying the timeline, more privacy during such an intimate moment, the list of reasons to do a first look is lengthy. Some couples dismiss the idea, however, feeling it’s too non-traditional or that it might somehow lessen the impact of that “walking-down-the-aisle” moment.
We totally get that. When we got married we decided not to do a first look, largely because we were so excited for the moment Lacey walked down the aisle and for Lee’s reaction to seeing her for the first time. But the truth is, after experiencing our own wedding and photographing dozens and dozens of others over the past 5 years, we would probably do things differently now if we could.
If we could go back in time and tell ourselves what we know now, we’d try to convince ourselves that we actually SHOULD do a first look, even though that walking-down-the-aisle moment was SO important to us.
So without further ado, here are our top 10 reasons to do a First Look.
The biggest objection we hear from couples who don’t want to do a First Look is that they don’t want to run the risk that anything will distract away from that “walking-down-the-aisle” moment. It’s a moment they’ve looked forward to for such a long time, so the impulse to protect it is very understandable. In our experience, though, the private first look doesn’t take anything away from that moment, it ADDS to it.
Think of it like watching your favorite movie. Sometimes you want to see your favorite movie on the big screen, sharing that experience with hundreds of other people. Other times, you want to curl up on the couch and watch your favorite movie with just one other person: your best friend and soul mate. Both of these are great ways to watch your favorite movie, but the two experiences are very different from each other.
The same is true of seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day. The way you’ll feel when you see them in a private setting is likely to be VERY different from how you feel when you see them during the ceremony. One moment is intimate, quiet, tender. The other is joyful, ecstatic and celebratory.
Both are powerful, and yet different. And so both can have a place on your wedding day without somehow taking from each other.
I can’t tell you how many couples we’ve seen pulled through their wedding day like red carpet celebrities being whisked from moment to moment, person to person, shot to shot. In some ways you should be treated like a celebrity, after all this is YOUR wedding day!
But on the other hand, you probably don’t want to spend your wedding day SO busy that you can’t take some time to connect with your partner, soak up the joy and truly celebrate the start of your marriage together.
This desire for a moment alone together is the reason why so many couples search for creative new ways to share some quality time on the wedding day. In addition to sharing a First Look, many couples also share a private meal together before their grand entrance, which is a a wonderful new trend we’ve seen become more and more commonplace the last few years.
The point is, every moment you can find to share with each other on the wedding day is a precious thing worth protecting, and sharing a First Look can be a great way to add one more to the list.
Everyone knows that wedding days are a bit stressful. The whole day is about the two of you. It’s time to look your best, be on time and there are so many moving parts. Which side does the boutonniere go on? Did anyone remember to steam the dress? Does anyone know how to tie a bowtie? The tension grows and grows.
Next thing you know it’s almost ceremony time and you’re waiting alone in a little room, and the coordinator tells you the time has come. The nerves build and build, and now 80 – 300 people look at you when you walk into the room. The gravity of this moment can be overwhelming for some people, especially if you feel as though the room is measuring your reaction to seeing your partner for the first time.
How much more present and in-the-moment would you feel if you had already shared a first look together? How much more would you be able to focus on each other instead of the other 100 people in the room? When the nerves are gone, it’s so much easier to express authentic emotions and really be present, which is a true gift on a day as important as this.
Many couples elect to skip the First Look because they want THE Reaction. You know what I’m talking about: the surprise, the tears, the relief that the moment is FINALLY here!
We LOVE an emotional reaction to seeing each other as much as the next photographer, which is why we think First Looks are so important! Most couples have a much easier time allowing that authentic emotion to come forward when they aren’t being watched by a few hundred people.
And honestly, this tends to be especially true for men. Even men who don’t usually struggle to emote in front of others may find it difficult to be that vulnerable in front of a crowd, especially if you’re like Lee and once the water works start it becomes VERY hard to get them to shut back off again.
In short, if getting THE Reaction is important to you, a private First Look may help create an environment where that genuine emotion is on display.
Non-first look wedding days tend to have less time for couple portraits by the simple nature of the fact that we aren’t able to take photos of the couple until after the ceremony. If your ceremony is starting near sunset or you want cocktail hour to be limited to a true 60 minutes, this means we may struggle to find even 15 or 20 minutes to take photos of the two of you together on your wedding day.
Some of you may say, well isn’t 15 or 20 minutes enough? And the truth is, we can accomplish a LOT in just 15 minutes of couple portraits, but remember that on wedding days we always want to have a little bit of worst-case-scenario buffer built in, and that DEFINITELY applies to your couple portraits too.
What happens if family portraits takes longer than expected? Or if transportation challenges delay your arrival at the reception venue and the sun has already set? What if a thunderstorm comes out of nowhere and it’s suddenly pouring down rain during the only 15 minute time period we have set aside for portraits?Doing a first look allows us to have at least two separate blocks of time in your timeline to capture couple portraits (once before the ceremony and once after the ceremony).
Now we have insurance. Even in a worst-case-scenario situation where something happens to impact your post-ceremony couples portraits, we still have portraits from earlier in the wedding day, which means you’ll still have beautiful images of you and your person to hang on your walls and print in your wedding album when all is said and done.
One of the greatest benefits of a First Look is that it unlocks the logistics of your wedding day. Once you and your partner share a First Look, we no longer need to keep you separate from each other, which has huge timeline advantages.
Instead of waiting to do all of your family portraits or wedding party portraits during cocktail hour, we can do those prior to the start of the ceremony before guests start to arrive. Not only can this be a huge time saver for you and your loved ones, it can also create space for your photography team to capture other details of the wedding day.
Cocktail hour candids and reception details are two categories of wedding day images that may be under-photographed (or in the worst of cases, not captured at all) if a packed wedding day timeline doesn’t make the space needed. By shifting portrait time earlier in the day we can spend more of cocktail hour capturing your guests and the beautiful reception details you curated for them.
Family Portraits are some of the most meaningful and cherished images captured on the wedding day, so it’s understandable to want every loved one to be included. However, most couples don’t realize how much of their cocktail hour can quickly be eaten up (pun intended) by family portraits.
Did you know that conventional wisdom dictates that for every each family portrait combination with more than 5 people, it takes about 5 minutes to correctly capture? That may seem overly long, but remember that we need to gather the family members, move them to the correct location, pose them, take the photos, release them and then repeat the process. For larger groups this can become quite time consuming, even with the most attentive and responsive family members.
We only say this to help paint a picture of what you can expect if capturing family portraits with aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family members is important to you or your parents. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that if you have more than one grouping of extended family members you want to include in your family portraits, you should strongly consider doing a first look to help make time for those combinations. You’ll thank us later!
Take back your cocktail hour! By doing a first look, you drastically reduce the weight of portraits on your cocktail hour, sometimes down to zero. Imagine you share your first kiss, then walk out of the ceremony to cheers and applause. You celebrate with your wedding party and other loved ones, and breath a sigh of relief.
Now, instead of going back to the altar for 30 minutes of family portraits, your wedding planner hands you a cocktail and tells you that for the next 45 minutes you can simply spend time with your guests and enjoy your wedding day. How great would that be? This dream-come-true cocktail hour experience can be the reality if you choose a First Look!
One of the often-overlooked advantages to doing a private First Look, is that it gives your photographer the ability to choose where this incredibly meaningful moment happens. This means we can decide what location will work in terms of giving you and your partner the privacy you need, but we can also choose a place with ideal lighting to help capture the moment beautifully.
If getting that perfect shot of THE reaction is important to you, doing a First Look will do SO MUCH to help ensure your photographer can choose the right location with the right light and position themselves at the right angle to get you the images you’ve been imagining.
Lastly, doing a private first look can allow you and your partner to bring some creativity to the moment you see each other on the wedding day. Some couples take this opportunity to read vows to each other that would be too intimate to share in front of their guests. Other couples exchange gifts or pray together.
Regardless of what you choose to do, this is a great opportunity to connect with your partner in the way that feels right to the two of you. Be creative, and celebrate the fact that soon you’ll be married!
We hope this list of top 10 reasons you should do a First Look has helped answer the question, “should we do a First Look”? The truth is, the First Look can create a variety of huge advantages on your wedding day, and it can be a real source of joy, connection and intimacy for couples on such a special day.
It’s worth noting that despite all the great advantages listed above, we do NOT require our couples do a First Look. We understand that every couple is different just as every wedding is different, and we want to create space for couples to design the wedding day that fits their unique vision and goals.
But if we could go back in time and share this list with ourselves we would, because sharing a First Look would have been so special and meaningful. And that’s what we want for our couples – the best wedding day they can possibly imagine!
With all the love,
If you enjoyed this list of top reasons to do a First Look, make sure to check out our post with the How to Choose the Perfect Ceremony Start Time. Are you interested in booking your own wedding or an intimate engagement session with your person? Click here to get in touch!
Lacey + Lee Photography is a wife-husband photography team based in Austin, Texas who specialize in creating bright, romantic and timeless, wedding and engagement photography. Within the Austin Area they serve South Congress, East 6th, South Lamar, The Seaholm District, Mueller, Dripping Springs, Kyle, Hutto, Georgetown, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Bastrop. They also serve San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Waco, Dallas, Houston, and any State or National Park you get to by plane, train or automobile. They are available for destination weddings, proposals, elopements and micro weddings.
Get in touch today for more detailed pricing!