The First Look.

If you are in the process of planning a wedding you’ve most likely come accross this phrase.  Even if you are not sure exactly what this means in a wedding context, this pairing of words itself is somehow rich with symbolism.

The First Look is when you and your future spouse see each other before the ceremony in an agreed upon location.  Your wedding photographer will capture this emotional meeting from a slight distance to give you some privacy (and some amazingly emotional resulting images!)  Then you will move onto the portraits portion of the photography all before the ceremony begins.  This allows for you to actually attend your own wedding (novel idea, no?)

This post is most definitely in favor of First Looks but the most important thing to remember is that it’s your wedding and whatever you decide should make you and your sweetie happy.

I love First Looks.  From a photography and planning perspective the First Look can cut out so much stress and the couples who opt to do a first look get so many more beautiful and emotional photos of just the two of them.  I also find that when couples choose not to do a first look the first thing that gets cut into if the bride arrives late from her hair appointment to her getting ready time, ceremony runs over, or weather takes a bad turn is that magical portrait time between the two of you.  It always breaks my heart a bit when that hour or so of special portrait time in that perfect light after the ceremony turns into fifteen minutes because of those little bits of lateness earlier in the day.

You are spending a lot of money on your wedding photography.  Whether or not you choose to do a first look make sure to defend that photography time.  It’s just a tiny sliver of time in the most important 24 hours of your life.  I get it, you love your friends and family and want to celebrate with them.  You may have a ‘hangry’ (hungry & angry) maid-of-honor who just wants to get to the cocktail hour or maybe your Uncle Jim really wants you to meet his new girlfriend.  Let them wait a few more minutes.  You won’t regret it.  It’s your wedding day.  When else in your life are you going to get all dressed up in your wedding clothes and have the chance to be photographed with the love of your life?

I didn’t know about the first look at our own wedding.  Had I been in the know I think I would have done it-especially considering we had a ketubah signing before the ceremony which meant we saw each other before the ceremony anyway…

Here is a sample timeline with a First Look:(modified from the timeline suggested by Katelyn James)

12:45ish Arielle begins with details and the bride getting ready!1:30 The Dress is on, take a few fun bridal shots:)2:15 First Look privately! and then the B&G’s romantic portraits!3:00 All bridal party portraits3:30 Groomsmen usher early guest / bride touches up makeup and goes into hiding!4pm Ceremony4:40 Family formals5:15 A few more romantic portraits for the newlyweds!5:30-6ish, The Party Begins and the B&G can be introduced immediately!


Timeline without first look:

2:00 Arielle starts with details and then gets “getting ready shots”3:00 Dress on!3:15 Bride with Bridesmaids for a few portraits3:30 Groomsmen usher early guest / bride touches up makeup and goes into hiding!4pm Ceremony4:40 Family formals5:15 Bridal Party Portraits5:45 Romantic portraits of the bride and groom… as many as we can do in 20mins!6:15 Lineup for introductions6:30ish party begins!!!!

I’d say about 70% of my couples decide on doing a first look and you know what?  They are all so glad that they did it!  Most of them say to me how glad they were to have that little bit of time to see each other alone before all of the madness took over.  I promise you, it will still be special when you have that walk down the aisle.  It will be huge, immense even-because you are participating in something so much larger than the two of you and you’re doing it in front of all your favorite people. 

But the most important thing to remember is that it’s your wedding day and it should be just the way you want it to be.  Have you dreamed your entire life of having your spouse see you for the first time as you walk down the aisle?  Then go for it.  But just keep in mind that your wedding day timeline may have to be slightly altered in order to give you the very best photographs possible and you may miss most of that cocktail hour.

Here are a couple of shots from some lovely first looks that I think communicate well how emotional and meaningful this special time on a wedding day can be:


And another favorite first look…