Many couples book their wedding photographer second only to their wedding date and wedding venue, so naturally they are early on in their wedding plans and have questions about the timeline of their big day. Sometimes, as a wedding photographer I even help create the timeline, so I've seen my share of trends come and go, but one I know is here to stay is the 'first look' or 'first glance'. I see it at a lot of weddings here in Seattle, and it happens to be one of my favorite things to photograph during the day's events - it's private, it's emotional, and it makes for great wedding photos! But that being said, I am not saying that every couple needs to have one! I'm just as happy to photograph the emotion of the bride seeing the groom at the altar for the first time - it's just a different moment that can add to your day's busy events and is for just the two of you. So...should you have a first look? Here are some things to consider:
1. Do you want to take portraits in the first part of the day before guests arrive?
I can't stress enough that the more portraits you do pre-ceremony, the less stress you will have after the ceremony. Plus, you won't have to make time for portraits in between the ceremony and cocktail hour or dinner, and you'll get to enjoy more time with your guests. So if you have a few free hours between venue set up and the ceremony, and you can get your portraits done while your hair and makeup are freshly done and looking great, then go for it! After the first look you can take all of your bride and groom portraits privately, or you can choose to involve family members, or your bridal party in the moment too!
2. Do you want to have a private reveal?
First looks can take a lot of pressure off of the wedding ceremony, when all eyes are going to be on you. If you think you might be overwhelmed with emotion at seeing your wife or husband to be for the first time in the aisle, a first look might be a great way to take the edge off. Also, if you want to share private vows, have a special moment or activity for just the two of you, having a first look is a great way to do that.
3. Who are you most excited to celebrate with on your wedding day?
First looks aren't just for the bride and groom. You can share a first look with your parents, children, or any special person in your life. I'm a strong believer that family is chosen as much as created, so I encourage my couples to personalize their day. The photos of you enjoying yourself authentically with your loved ones always make the best memories.
4. Is tradition important to you or your family?
Weddings are full of cultural and family traditions, some of which are very important to you or your close family members, and as a wedding photographer I'm very respectful of that. If you want to save all of that emotion and excitement for the ceremony, then a first look might not be for you. Or, one of your parents might feel very strongly about not seeing each other before the ceremony. My best advice is to try and see everyone's perspective on this. Even though your wedding is YOUR day, keep in mind that your parents and loved ones are also emotionally invested in their ideas and want the best for you.