What is a First Look?
A first look usually takes place just before the ceremony and is the first time a couple sees one another on their wedding day. The choice over the first look session is one that I help each of my couple’s navigate as we plan their perfect destination wedding. When developing their wedding day timeline, couples carefully consider every second as they work to create a memorable experience for both them and their guests.
Ultimately, the decision to see each other before the ceremony (or not!) comes down to a personal choice. Couples should take their personal values, the flow of their day, and their priorities into consideration as they’re deciding what is most important for them to experience on their wedding day.
Your Personal Values
The first look can be a very special time for couples. Well planned and prepared for, your photographer will be waiting to capture your reactions as you see each other for the first time in a private, intimate moment. Having that time away from your guests and without having to move right along into your vows, you will be able to completely focus on each other and embrace the moment while you take in every detail.
If you go the more traditionalist route and choose to forego the first look session, you’ll get to hold on to the feeling of anticipation throughout your preparations. By the time you’re ready to walk down the aisle, you’ll be giddy with suspense (and maybe a few butterflies). The feeling of seeing each other for the first time at the end of the aisle, surrounded by your loved ones to witness your reactions, is a unique moment that is hard to recreate.
No matter what you choose, your photographer will catch every tear, kiss, and embrace of that moment so that you’ll be able to remember it forever.
The Flow of the Day
Couples that decide to have a first look benefit from more time – time for a private moment together before they say “I do,” time to venture to an off-venue location for more adventurous wedding day photos, and time to enjoy your reception without being pulled away for photos.
After those first few moments together, your photographer will work to capture as many of your wedding portraits as possible before the reception begins. Depending on the length of time you allocate for the first look session, you may have time for the wedding party and family portraits or even time to escape the venue for photos at a unique, off-site location.
Some of the most stunning photos I’ve seen are those that are captured in the extra time built into the schedule during a first look. These photos from Brooklyn + Ryan’s wedding are just one example of the truly unique and dramatic portraits from a generously-planned first look session.
However, you don’t have to depend on a first look session for your timeline to allow for both beautiful portraits and plenty of time to celebrate.
When you opt against a first look, your photographer will pull you away after the ceremony (at a time you establish together with your planner) to get the majority of your portraits. While this means you’ll miss out on a small piece of the celebration with your guests, it also means that your photographer will likely be shooting during the golden hour – that magical time around sunset when the sky is the prettiest and the sun casts perfect light. You won’t have to worry about squinty eyes or harsh shadows and the resulting photographs will be breathtaking.
Regardless of your choice, your planner and photographer will work together to help you create an itinerary that includes ample time for plenty of portraits, private time for you and your spouse, and time for celebrations!
Your Wedding Day Priorities
Ultimately, your planner and your photographer are here to help you create and capture your dream destination wedding. With that, it’s important to consider your priorities when planning your wedding day, as these will often help dictate whether a first look session is right for you.
Do you want to experience an off-site locale? Are you looking for more exotic, adventurous photos? Do you want to spend as much time as possible at your reception with your friends and family? If so, then a first look is probably a great option for you!
Or, do you want to preserve the traditional element of surprise when walking down the aisle? Are you happy to stay at the venue for your photos? Do you not mind ducking out of party to get your portraits? If so, then you may not need a first look!
Wedding planners (like myself!) are experts in wedding-day time management and can offer tips and suggestions for you to get the most out of every minute, no matter what you decide! It’s your day and it’s your decision to make. My job is to help you evaluate your options and work out a timeline that accomplishes all of your goals.