To First Look or Not To First Look?

February 6, 2020

This is a question I’m always being asked by couples. I’ve decided to break down the pros/cons of each, giving soon to be couples the answers they need to decide what option works best for them!

First Look

It helps settle your nerves.
As a former bride, I can say that seeing my husband before the ceremony really did calm me down! While yes, it is normal to be nervous on a day as important as this, seeing your partner really does take away that added level of nerves and give you the confidence you need to carry on throughout the day.
You have a moment together before guests/family arrive.
Once you’re over the initial reaction of seeing your smoking-hot-soon-to-be-spouse standing right in front of you, you have a chance to connect and have a private moment before the wedding day bliss/chaos begins. This is exceptionally important because it is your day after all! Take a moment to yourselves and enjoy all the good things that lie ahead. Some couples even use this time to share a special note or gift they’ve prepared for their partner! Yay gifts!
You’ll have more photos together + more time with your guests.
As a photographer, I love when couples have a first look because it creates a smoother timeline for the day and you get more photos with your lovey AND more photos of you and your bridal party! Doing more photos earlier allows the photographer to capture more candid moments throughout the evening as you’re able to interact with your guests instead of worrying about photos!
Here’s a timeline example of what I mean.

First Look
12:00 – First look
12:15 – portraits of couple
12:45 – bridal party photos
1:30 – hide away for ceremony

No First Look
12:00 – Photos of Bride/Bridesmaids
12:45 – Photos of Groom/Groomsmen
1:30 – Hide away for ceremony
2:00 – ceremony
2:30 – Entire Bridal Party Photos away from guests
3:00 – portraits of couple if time allows

Non – Traditional
A first look just isn’t the traditional way. It’s a relatively new concept and it’s not the way our parents did it.
You *might
* lose the special reaction at the altar.
Emphasis on might. Just because you had a first look before the ceremony doesn’t mean it will take away from the emotion of the actual ceremony! But there is still a risk.
Might have to start the day earlier.
Depending on your timeline, you might have to start the day earlier than if you didn’t have a first look. That means you’re done with photos sooner though!

Olivia’s First Look Tips

  • Find somewhere PRIVATE to have your first look. Bridal party and parents LOVE to think they get to be a part of this special moment, but it’s only for you two (& hopefully your photographer).

  • Be Yourself. Allow yourself to feel and be emotional. You’re getting married! I have Kleenex in my bag at the ready.

  • Ditch the Bouquet. I am a firm believer that your husband does not care about your flowers, so when he first sees you, you probably don’t need to be holding them. You can often have the 2nd photographer hold them so they’re ready for portraits!

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No First Look

The emotional reaction down the aisle.
Choosing to not have a first look allows you to keep your emotions stored away until you see your life partner waiting for you at the end of the aisle. It makes for such a special moment to see them waiting there for you, and it makes for some really beautiful photos!
Your dress will be pristine for the ceremony.
Okay I’m not saying if you have a first look your dress will be trashed – that is absolutely NOT the case! I work really hard to make sure your dress stays clean and only pose you in clean places! However, if you were to not have a first look you could wait longer to put your dress on. You could even wait until 10 minutes before the ceremony and it would have no wrinkles or creases anywhere!

Sometimes you can appear tense in photos.
If you’re not doing a first look, the photos that are taken before seeing your partner can come off awkward or tense if you’re nervous. Of COURSE I will pose you in a way that hopefully hides all of your nerves, but sometimes we can’t help but show emotion through our faces.
Less Photos Together / Less Time With Guests
As mentioned above, no first look means less photos together in your final gallery and less time with your friends and family throughout the day. Of course you’ll get to see all of your favorite people that came to celebrate you, but you might not be able to visit during cocktail hour due to the photography schedule.

So what’s the verdict?

Both of these options are great and unique in their own way. You must pick the option that works for you as a couple, and honors any traditions or beliefs you may or may not have. I’ve shot both types of days and they always work out. No matter which you choose, it will be uniquely yours and PERFECT!