One of the biggest questions when it comes to planning a photography timeline is centered around the famous question: “Should I do a first look?” There is a lot to consider when thinking about doing a first look or going traditional, and I’m here to lay it all out for you. I believe whatever you choose, you should make an educated decision and know your “why” behind what you choose. This is your wedding day, and it should be planned with purpose, and planned the way you want it to be. Let’s talk about the 3 things to consider when debating a first look!
This is always the first and biggest factor to consider. Usually, this is what hangs most of the guys up on the whole “first look” idea. They have dreamt of seeing their bride for the first time walking down the aisle. While they may not grow up dreaming of their wedding from the time they were 5 years old like us women, men care a lot about their wedding day, and more specifically, the first time they will get to see their bride. If your man is absolutely set on keeping to tradition, that’s great! Similarly, some women dream of what their groom’s reaction will be as she walks down the aisle. It’s a moment you watch over and over in the movies and dream of when you picture your wedding day.
This one sometimes goes without being talked about, but I think it is so important to consider when thinking about first looks. One of the huge differences between choosing a traditional walk down the aisle or choosing a first look is that one happens in front of a large audience, and the other happens with just the two of you (and your photographer/videographer…but I promise to give you your space!) Personally, I chose to do a first look for my wedding, and it was one of my favorite moments of the whole day because it was a moment I got to enjoy alone with my husband to be. Getting to see him before the ceremony eased my anxiety. When it’s your wedding day, all eyes are on you. That’s pretty nerve-wracking! Choosing to do a first look allows you to get rid of those nerves, and enjoy a moment alone. Most of the wedding day, people will be waiting in line to talk to you, congratulate you, and celebrate you! And while that is so much fun, it’s important to make time for just the two of you on your wedding day, and choosing to do a first look automatically builds that in for you. It allows for an intimate moment together to talk, maybe a cry a little, and express your excitement for the day!
Side note: David had already seen me at our first look and portraits, and he still cried when I walked down the aisle. So if you’re worried about a first look removing your groom’s emotion…believe me when I say it will not!
When it comes to timeline, there are some major timeline changes that need to be made when you are choosing to forgo a first look (I feel like Chris Harrison from the Bachelor saying: “Should you choose to forgo your individual rooms tonight,” Ha!). Choosing to do a first look allows you to finish a large majority of photos before the ceremony even begins. You knock out your bride & groom portraits, bridal party portraits, and maybe even family portraits all before the ceremony begins. That means when the ceremony ends, it’s time to party! There aren’t any more photos to worry about or places to be. It’s just time to enjoy your reception.
When you choose to forgo a first look however, the only photos that can really happen before the ceremony are photos with the bride and her bridesmaids, and the groom with his groomsmen. That leaves both bride and groom portraits and family photos to be done after the ceremony. Typically, for a timeline with no first look, I recommend doing a 90 minute cocktail hour in order to get in 15 mins of the entire bridal party together, 30 minutes of family photos, and 45 mins of bride & groom portraits . I have done this numerous times in the past and it works great! It’s just important to make sure that guests have some light food, drinks, and entertainment to enjoy while they are waiting at cocktail hour.
Whatever you choose to do, I believe that it’s your wedding day, and it’s all about you. That’s the beautiful thing, isn’t it? You get to decide what you want, and at the end of the day that is the most important thing. Do what is going to make you happy and make your wedding day one of the most joyous, memorable days to look back on. If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like 5 Tips for Managing your Wedding Guest List, 5 Reasons Why Wedding Albums are Worth the Investment, and 5 Reasons Why I Became a Wedding Photographer. Thanks for reading along! 🙂