Something I discuss with all of my couple’s when working on their timeline is whether or not they are interested in doing a first look. First looks have become increasingly popular in recent years. About half of my couples opt for a adding one to their special day, so I wanted to explain the benefits of a first look, and how it effects the rest of your wedding timeline.
What is a First Look?
A first look is when a couple sees each other before the wedding ceremony.
A lot of people are unsure after hearing this description. How could you possibly see your fiance the day of your wedding before you walk down the aisle?The traditional way is equally as emotional and beautiful, this blog is simply meant to explain why first looks are so popular and to help couple’s on the fence decide whether or not the benefits are worth deterring from ‘tradition’. As a note, I do not influence my clients decision on whether or not they include a first look as part of their wedding day.It’s not my day, it’s yours!
Pros of a First Look
Helps with Nerves: It is super natural to feel some nerves about walking down the aisle. Everyone will be looking at you and watching a very intimate and special moment between you and your soon to be spouse. A first look is a way to take some pressure off of that moment and often helps settle the wedding jitters.
Alone Time with your Fiance: While your wedding is all about the couple, they often get little or no time alone together during the duration of the wedding day. The entire event can feel like a blur. A first look is a quiet and private moment for the couple to truly take in how great the other one looks and allow them a moment to chat, hug, and take a deep breath before the ceremony.
Photographs Beautifully:A big bonus from a photographer’s perspective is that when clients opt for a first look we are able to pick the spot and make sure the lighting and backdrop are ideal to capture everything perfectly. We have much less control of lighting/timing/placement when you have that moment coming down the aisle.
Time to Touch Up: If you are a crier (no shame in that!) having a private first look allows you to be emotional and have time to touch up any running makeup or red eyes before your ceremony.
Extra Time for Portraits:As a photographer, this may be my favorite part of first looks. You are able to do some portraits while you are fresh from hair/makeup (and pre-sweat if you in Texas). You also will have different lighting situations for first look portraits and the ones you take after your ceremony, which is a great way to add variety to your gallery!
Wedding Timelines & First Looks
A first look means you can take care of the majority of your photos pre-ceremony and allows the couple to get to their reception quicker. Since the bride & groom have already seen each other, I suggest knocking out full & individual bridal parties along with a portion of the bride/groom portraits. This means after the ceremony the only photos necessary before the reception is family and the remaining bride/groom portraits.
You can also knock out your immediate family portraits pre-ceremony if you want to front load the photos as much as possible. Here are some of my favorite examples of first looks I have photographed for reference.
First Look Alternatives
First Touch:If you want a moment with your significant other without them seeing your full look before the ceremony, a first touch might be for you! In this case your photographer will place you on either side of a door or divider of some kind (where you can’t see each other), and allow you to hold hands and have a talk privately for as long as you like. Additions to this could be praying together, exchanging letters, having a friend sage you both, or exchanging gifts.
Exchange Letters: This is a great way to tell your special someone how special they are and is a great wedding keepsake. I love the emotional and kind things my couple’s have written to each other over the years. You can have a bridal party member deliver your letters to each other, or your photographer should be happy to as well. We definitely want to capture when you each read your letters anyways! Pro tip: If you have a videographer, have them record you reading the letter out loud for you to enjoy later or to use in your wedding video.
Have Your Person Wait to See You: While having your spouse see you as soon as you make your entrance to the ceremony is amazing, some couple’s have the person who is waiting at the end of the aisle turn their back as the bride/groom makes their way down the aisle.They turn around once they get a little closer so they can take in all the details at once. Can make for a particularly emotional moment! This is also helpful if you have a long walk from your venue doors to the actual aisle and you want to be close before they take in how amazing you look.
Hope this helps you decide if a first look, or a first look alternative, is a good fit for your nuptials! Regardless of how you choose to see your soon to be spouse the first time, I am sure it will be magical!
Need more wedding planning inspiration/tips? Check out a few of my other favorites below!
Haley Katherine Photography is a Dallas Wedding Photographer specializing in weddings, elopements, destination weddings, and engagement sessions for couples seeking authentic, timeless, and cheerful imagery. If you would like to see more of my work, please visit my portfolio.