Should you do a First Look on your Wedding day?

First looks are becoming increasingly popular in the wedding industry. So chances are, if you are planning a wedding, you have come across this topic before. In fact, wedding photographers report about 90% of couples are choosing to have a First Look. Surprised by how high these numbers are?

Maybe you never attended a wedding that had a First Look. Or maybe you just didn’t know it happened. Unless you were part of the bridal party, there is no way to know if the weddings you have been to had a First Look or not. Maybe you were mesmerized by the quality of the portraits of the bride and groom, the raw emotion of their expression, and wondered how on earth they managed to take those incredible photos while you were sipping a cocktail. Furthermore, where were those photos taken? You can’t place the location in the wedding venue. These are classic signs of a First Look you never knew took place.

If, on the other hand, you have been part of a First Look yourself, then you know the magic result of those photographs had everything to do with the planning done by the photographer and the time they had alone with the bride and groom. You probably cherish that First Look as much as the ceremony itself, as it was an intimate moment you got to spend with the couple on their wedding day.

What is a First Look?

If you just began wedding planning and you are not yet familiar with the term First Look, here’s the gist of it. A First Look is a planned moment, before the wedding ceremony when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day. It is an intimate moment that usually provides emotional photo opportunities.

But why are couples deciding to break tradition on their wedding day? The idea of the bride and groom first seeing each other when the bride is walking down the aisle has been engraved in our minds not only in every wedding we have been a part of growing up, but also every wedding scene in movies and tv-shows. The bride approaches, the groom weeps, they exchange few to no words, but the sentiment is implicit.

Meanwhile, during this once-in-a-lifetime moment, which involves several people moving, and emotionally reacting to each other, the wedding photographer moves as quickly as possible, trying to not miss one teary smile. We created a notion of sanctity behind the first glance the bride and groom share in front of dozens of guests, and we let ourselves believe it is both intimate and private. But the first look that the bride and groom share during the wedding ceremony is far from being either intimate or private, there are multiple faces focused on their every reaction. Which can be overwhelming.

The realization of how exposed they are during the ceremony has been one of the motivators for couples to get a First Look experience, a moment they can enjoy together, away from prying eyes. It’s just them and the photographer, capturing the special private moment.

Why are couples getting First Look wedding photos?

If the chance to get some alone time on their wedding day wasn’t reason enough to have a First Look, there are two other factors guiding couples towards this route – the financial investment and the quality of the photos.

Hiring a professional photographer to document your special day is a must, but as you may be aware by now, it comes with the need for a significant financial investment. The word investment truly suits the situation, as you want to have the best possible photos of your special day to hang around the house, show your children, and leave them behind for generations to come.

Wedding photographers have concluded that weddings with a First Look have on average 40% more portraits of the bride and groom. An impressive and important number to take into consideration when making a decision whether or not to have one, since the more portraits you have the better the chance of falling in love with several of them. This comes in handy when sharing them with your loved ones and prevents you from having to look at the same photo on your mantelpiece, your parents’, and your in-laws’.

When it comes to the quality of the photos, a First Look, being prepared in advance and shot in private, tends to better capture the essence of the emotions experienced by the bride and groom when they first see each other. In addition, the location is chosen in advance, with lighting in mind. Your movements are coordinated so the camera won’t miss anything.

Looking at your spouse-to-be for the first time on your wedding day can be emotionally overwhelming. So more and more couples are wondering – why not do it in privacy? Why not have a moment that is just yours? A First Look allows you to share an emotional moment without having all eyes on you. You don’t need to worry about the face you make when crying or whether you can or cannot touch your loved one. You can do as your heart desires and let your emotions guide you. The result: incredible photographs.

Does a First Look take away from your aisle moment?

This is a question only you, and your fiancee can answer. It is a deeply personal decision, that once made you can’t reverse. If you decide to have a First Look you will never know how you would feel about seeing your significant other for the first time down the aisle. It is equally true that if you don’t have it you can’t go back in time and have that intimate one on one moment.

One of the great advantages of having a First Look versus a traditional down-the-aisle experience is that the tension on the bride and groom and the emotion that they can or cannot show is gone. Your reaction is much more candid. You can take photographs that are truly intimate and not influenced by how many eyes you have upon you.

Couples that had a First Look have commented on how it helped ease their nerves before the wedding. It was the only alone time they had on their wedding day and they admit to feeling more relaxed after. They could react to how each other looked, talk, and touch each other. The need to see your significant other can be so overwhelming, some couples who want to keep tradition change their minds just before the wedding ceremony and decide to have a First Look after all.

How does a First Look affect your wedding timeline?

It might seem like a First Look is yet another thing to add to an already overbooked day. But in reality, it creates a more flexible wedding timeline. How? Instead of taking all your formal wedding photos after the ceremony, you will have taken your portraits and bridal party photos before. This means you will actually get to enjoy cocktail hour at your wedding and spend time with your guests.

The First Look is an extension to your wedding day, it happens before your guests start arriving and allow you an intimate moment with both your significant other and your bridal party, which is difficult to have during the ceremony and the reception. Overall, you will have more time to be present and interact with your guests, without the weight of the formal wedding photos hanging over you, and your guests won’t have to wait around for the reception for as long.

How do you plan a First Look?

The first thing to do is reaching out to your wedding photographer. They will scout your wedding venue a find the most beautiful and well-lit location for the First Look to take place. Not only that, they will coordinate who stands where and in which way the groom should turn when the bride reaches him. Usually, portraits are a bit rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to get a romantic feel, but thanks to the intimate nature of the First Look that won’t be a problem.

After capturing the moment the couple first sees each other and taking the portraits, enhanced by the lighting and scenery, the photographer and/or wedding planner will bring the rest of the wedding party. Both bride and groom can spend time with their respective parties and take their formal wedding photos. The bride then has time to retouch her make-up before finally walking down the aisle.

If you are considering a First Look, let your photographer and wedding planner know as soon as possible, because it will require the wedding event to begin earlier. You will have to get ready before the First Look, which involves moving up hair and make-up, and your bridal party’s arrival.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, make sure all those memories are captured.