First of all, I respect the final decision of every couple. I will not pressure you to go one way or the other. I am fully transparent and honest with you on how your day will go based on your decision. Another thing I want to point out is this is how I handle the first look/no first look discussion. Other photographers may look at vastly different than I do!

WHAT IS A FIRST LOOK?

A first look, in its simplest terms, is seeing each other prior to your ceremony, privately, with just the two of you and no one else. The traditional first look, is when your spouse sees you for the first time as you’re walking down the aisle.  

SO WHY PICK ONE OVER THE OTHER?

This decision will dictate how your day will go. When I meet up with my couples to talk about their day, I create a custom timeline for each couple. The first question I ask is: “are you doing a first look?”. 

Here’s the deal. First looks can help your day go a bit smoother so you can enjoy your party with your friends and family while also obtaining the photographs that you want. Doing a first look will allow you to get bridesmaids, groomsmen, party, couple, and possibly even family photos done prior to your ceremony, so that afterwards, you can enjoy your reception without any concerns. It also doesn’t force guests to wait roughly 60-90 minutes for you to finish taking photographs. This is the main reason why people choose to do a first look.  And to be honest with you, I have never had a single couple say they regretted doing a first look. A lot of times, during the day they exclaim how glad they are that they did a first look.

OTHER PROS WITH DOING A FIRST LOOK:

 You are able to go to multiple locations with your party for photos and you won’t be restricted to your venue location (unless we are out in the middle of the country, then the odds of us leaving for photos elsewhere is pretty nil). You can hire a party bus, pregame, and go take some photos at your favorite places! I usually encourage limiting it to two spots! I also can help you pick out spots!

You get to see each other privately. Wedding days are CRAZY. You are interacting with people all day and this is a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to have a moment to yourselves with no one else around. It’s a rare opportunity to have during the day. 

I will still get that reaction when you walk down the aisle. You walking down the aisle is still an emotional moment. You’re walking down the aisle to meet the love of your life to marry them. Just because they saw you before doesn’t make this moment any less significant. Below is an example from a wedding where they opted for a first look, but still showed two vastly different emotions when their spouse walked down the aisle.

NOW, LET’S SAY YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO A FIRST LOOK

It seems to be a consistent trend that ceremony times happen between 4-5:30. It still can be done! I do not want you to feel like you have to do a first look. The one thing I encourage every couple to be mindful of is your ceremony time in regards to sunset time that day. It’s extremely easy to find out sunset time for your day. Just google: “’your date’ sunset time”. At the bare minimum, you want your ceremony to be at least 3 hours prior to sunset time just in case the weather decides to have different plans. With a traditional first look, I schedule in about 90 minutes of photo taking time after your ceremony. It breaks down like this: 30 minutes for family photos, 30 minutes for full party, and 30 minutes for couple portraits. Does it take the entire 90 minutes? Not always. But I tend to schedule more time than needed just in case events don’t go exactly according to plan.

I also encourage couples to always add on a second photographer if they decide not to do a first look. There’s multiple reasons why I encourage this! There’s the opportunity to have bridesmaids/groomsmen photos done prior to your ceremony with a second shooter so we hopefully don’t have to spend too much time taking photos after the ceremony. If we aren’t able to accomplish bridesmaids/groomsmen photos before the ceremony, we can still split up and take those shots simultaneously and save us some time! 

Unfortunately for daylight savings weddings (any wedding from November to March), you are almost pushed into doing a first look if you have a late ceremony time since your sunset time is around 5:00. We do not want to be doing photos in the dark!

ATTENTION TO CATHOLIC WEDDING COUPLES!

Let’s say you are having a Catholic wedding. There is an expectation for Catholic weddings to start early and have a party later. Since your ceremony is so early in the day, then there’s plenty of time for photos and the ability to get to your reception the same time your guests do. So your guests are already expecting a gap in time. It almost always follows the timeline of a first look. If you still want that private moment to yourselves, then you still can do a first look before heading to your ceremony!

GUESS WHAT! THERE ARE MORE VERSIONS OF A FIRST LOOK THAT YOU CAN DO.

You don’t have to do a first look with just your future spouse. Do you know who always is gonna have a great reaction when they first see you in your dress? Your bridal party. Getting dressed privately with your mother or sister, and then having a reveal with your bridesmaids is a great way to get you pumped to start your day.

Another ultra popular decision is having a first look with your dad. Dad first looks usually happen before seeing your future spouse and oh man they can be emotional. But don’t feel limited it to just being your dad! Have another ultra important person in your life that you want a special moment with? You can have a first look with them too.

HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS REGARDING A FIRST LOOK? PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK ME! AGAIN, I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH THAT WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO DO, WE WILL MAKE IT WORK! I WANT TO BE ENTIRELY FLEXIBLE TO MAKE YOUR WEDDING DAY THE DAY YOU WANT IT TO BE, AND I PROMISE TO BE HONEST WITH YOU ON HOW BEST TO SCHEDULE YOUR TIMELINE!