As wedding tradition goes, sweethearts are not supposed to see each other until the magical walk down the aisle. But more and more couples are opting to forego superstition and have a more intimate “first look” on their wedding day. If you are on the fence about which way to go, I’m going to break down the pros and cons for you!
Let’s start with the First Look.
Pros: Most couples that I have worked with chose to do a first look because it helps with the wedding-day jitters. It’s a great way to get the nerves out ahead of time so you can fully enjoy and be more present during your ceremony. Many couples feel like they are more comfortable expressing their emotions in this more intimate setting than in front of all their friends and family. In addition, working with your photographer to find the perfect spot for your first look can make for some really gorgeous photos which will have more variety and visual impact than the few shots you will get walking down the aisle.
A first-look can also help with your timeline. Usually the moment is followed by 20-30 minutes of couple portraits, which means that you don’t need to do as many photos after the ceremony. And once you’ve seen each other, there’s no reason not to get some of those family and bridal party portraits off the list as well. A shorter shot list after the nuptials means that you might actually get to enjoy those yummy appetizers and greet some of your guests at your cocktail hour!
Cons: Scheduling a first-look will probably mean getting ready earlier. You are shifting a big chunk of your photography to an earlier portion of the day so you will need to be fully dressed and made-up earlier. You should allow about an hour for the first look and portraits afterwards.
When you plan the bulk of your couple portraits for earlier in the day, you and your photographer will need to think more about lighting. It’s likely that you may end up doing photos at high noon, which is the worst time of day to take out-door photos. You can work around this by planning a first look spot in a location with a lot of shade. If your venue doesn’t fit that description, look around for parks nearby that will have lots of trees. And if you don’t want to miss out on those gorgeous golden hour images, ask your planner to build in some time about 30 minutes before sunset where you can sneak away with your photographer to do a few sunset photos.
Now let’s talk about doing things the traditional way.
Pros: Couples who choose to keep tradition alive say that they want their spouse to have a genuine reaction when they see each other during the aisle walk. How can you argue with that? It’s a great reason to do things the old-fashioned way! It’s a magical thing to build up anticipation throughout the day with everything leading to that big moment. It’s very romantic.
Photography-wise, most of the time doing things this way means that the portrait session ends up perfect timing with the oh-so-special golden hour. You should be able to take photos just about anywhere you’d like. You will definitely want to discuss this with your photographer and find out the best time to begin portraits.
Cons: Timing will be everything. In my experience, couples usually build in about an hour between the end of the ceremony and their grand entrance to the reception. In that amount of time, we typically need to accomplish family photos, bridal party photos and couple portraits. If at any point in the day the timeline starts to run late, you run the risk of shortening that amount of time. Sometimes is not a big deal and you just need to ask your planner to push back the grand entrance. But depending on the time of day, your photographer might actually be losing light. Night time photos can be beautiful, but you probably don’t want all of them to be in the dark. Try to add a photo buffer of 3o extra minutes to your timeline if you can just in case, and make sure you know the sunset time.
When trying to decide which option is for you, think about what will be important to you throughout the day. If you want more of a relaxing, laid back vibe, the first-look may be the way to go. But if you are all about the excitement and anticipation, then by all means keep the romance alive and wait for that big reveal as you walk down the aisle!