I feel like the words ‘first look’ are still a bit of a no-go for so many couples getting married. That all important first look coming down the aisle still holds strong for so many people (especially a lot of grooms it seems!). But I’m such a big fan of the non-traditional first look and here’s why
We all know weddings come with nerves – it happens to everyone. With a first look, you can have this first moment without the audience and dispel some of that nervous energy.
It’s intimate, it’s emotional, and you can take your time taking in your future spouse.
If you’re already seeing each other before the ceremony, there is absolutely NO reason why you can’t get your portraits done before either! Not only can you get your couple portraits done, but you can also do your wedding party group shots and family formals. This not only leaves some time for good light (especially if you’re having a ceremony late in the afternoon or a winter wedding where it gets dark earlier) but you also get to go and actually enjoy time with your guests after you’ve said I Do! Canapé hour never tasted so good (because you know, you’ll actually be there to eat the canapés!).
When I had my wedding, people told us that getting ready together would ruin the ‘walking down the aisle moment’. Guess what? It didn’t! We both felt that same feeling as everyone else does. Being in front of all of our friends and family – it was a different moment than our quiet, intimate reveal with just ourselves.
The nervousness, the excitement, the emotions – they were still there.
It’s super common for couples to want to get back to their reception as soon as possible and this means a lot of them cut back on their allocated time for their portrait session. When you’ve had that first look before your ceremony, what may have taken an hour before, can be shortened to 15-20 minutes because you’ll already have some of that variety.
Another thing you won’t have to rush to is that beautiful golden hour light. This is especially problematic when your ceremony is late afternoon or a winter wedding – where the sun starts setting at 4:30. Add in the ceremony (probably) going overtime because someone decided to do an impromptu speech or your celebrant got carried away, your time can be even shorter.
It’s not fun trying to cram in an entire session into 5 minutes!
With a first look, you won’t have to stress about having your portraits done in daylight hours – because they’ll already be done!
Sometimes, we can hold back our emotions when we have an audience. When you’re standing in front of 70+ people and seeing each other for the first time, it could be something that makes you wary of expressing yourselves fully to each other – this is especially something to think about with couples who are a little more introverted, shy or ND couples. Having that moment in private (with only a photographer or videographer there) can really allow you to express yourself in a more authentic, expressive way.
If you choose to wear wakeup on your day, you’ll know that hairstyles come undone, curls drop and makeup rubs off as you go through your day. The best way to have that fresh faced hair and makeup look in your photos is to have them taken as early on in the day as possible.
We all know that some guests at weddings love to get loose with the drinks. Sometimes, this starts earlier in the day and by the time the ceremony is done, the wobbly’s have well and truly hit. I have in fact had rogue groomsman at one wedding have a few too many beers and had to take a nap halfway through the wedding party portraits because he got too drunk. He not only missed the portraits session but also a large chunk of the reception celebrations too.
So two things :
One, having a first look followed closely by group photos guarantees that your wedding party and family members can stay standing in their photos. Two, make sure your wedding party knows when to switch to water!
You know at the end of Toy Story 2 when Barbie complains about her cheeks hurt from smiling so much?
“Are they gone? Is everybody gone? Good! Oh my gosh my cheeks are killing me! I can’t keep smiling like this, it’s exhausting!” – This will most likely be you.
Photo fatigue is a real thing. You will be like two Hollywood movie stars that everyone is taking photos of constantly ALL THE TIME. Some people love that – which is awesome! Soak up the attention queens!
But for some couples, it really takes a toll on their fatigue levels. It can be exhausting smiling and being ‘on’ for the camera for so long. With a first look and portrait session, you won’t feel over it and will have more of a sparkle in your eye 😉
This is a day about you both right? So why not spend as much time as you possibly can being together? A first look gives you some of that time back – which is why you’re marrying each other right? To spend time with each other
Of course it’s up to you what you want to do. For some couples, that first look at the ceremony is super important to them – and that’s okay! I’m not going to push you to do something that’s not right for you. This is YOUR wedding and it needs to be done the way that you have envisioned it.
BUT as a photographer, I think having that extra time together and capturing those intimate moments can make for some really BEAUTIFUL imagery. On top of that, having that extra time for couple portraits will give you more variety in your final images (and who doesn’t love more options?!)
If you’re feeling on the fence, I’m going to say that having a first look is awesome. And