To first look or not first look, that is the question.
First of all, first look isn't a verb so that sentence doesn't even make sense and second of all, it is a deeply (okay it ain't that deep) personal question that really only you can know the answer to.
Guys, I dusted off my calculator for this topic to let you know how many of my couples opt for a first look. And the answer was exactly the same for the past two years. Which is kind of crazy because it is an oddly specific number. And that number is 21%.
21% of the weddings I have photographed in both 2018 + 2019 have gone the route of a first look.
So now that you have the stat(s). Here are some more tidbits of wisdom to think about before making your decision.
I have taken it upon myself to compile an extensive list of pros and cons. And by extensive I mean basically everything that Google + I could come up with.
So here it is. In point form. Because point form is king of the forms.
- Get the jitters out. Yo, your wedding day is a big deal and it is normal to be nervous. I would go so far as to say you are a weirdo if you don't get nervous. Seeing your significant other before you walk down the aisle calms the nerves in 10/10 people (that is not an official stat don't @ me)
- Instead of taking your couple photos post-ceremony during cocktail hour, you get to enjoy this time with your family + friends. Unless you don't like the people you invited to your wedding then in that case, definitely skip cocktail hour.
- Guest experience is elevated (and if Four Weddings taught me anything, guest experience is key to a great wedding) because you can shorten the amount of time needed between your ceremony and reception because you don't need 3 hours of photo time.
- If you are planning a winter wedding, a first look is almost necessary if you still want natural light in your photos. Which, as someone who lives and breathes natural light, I would highly suggest.
- First look pictures are just dang cute. If you want an emotional groom reaction (because in my experience grooms can freeze up and not show emotion in front of a crowd), you're gonna want to go for a first look.
- You get to choose where your first look takes place. It can be anywhere. In front of a waterfall, in a forest, at the top of the CN Tower. I mean really, the possibilities are endless. Also, your photographer (hi, hello!) can help you choose an area and angle with the best lighting which will create beautiful, flattering images which doesn't always happen at your ceremony.
- Often times you will have more time for couple photos if you plan to do some before your ceremony. The whole timeline is less rushed when a first look is in the plan.
- You and your groom get to have that coveted and precious alone time which, for a day that is supposed to be all about the two of you, you kind of don't have a lot of time to connect, just the two of you.
- And last but not least, the photos are broken up so you don't have 3 straight hours of smiling. Okay no, photos don't take three hours. But lumping family photos, wedding party photos and couple photos into sequence can be A LOT. So having the option to get some photos done before the ceremony is just peachy.
- You will absolutely not have the traditional moment of seeing your groom for the first time walking down the aisle. If this tradition is something that is super important to you, skip the first look and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
- You may have to touch up your hair and makeup before your ceremony. Outdoor pictures (heck, pictures in general) have a tendancy to make your makeup fade and your hair to fall.
- The bottom of your dress may get slightly dirty. I'm not talking full on caked in mud dirty, but again, if the photos are outside, there is a chance that the train may have collected some leaves or dirt in the picture process.
If you're not feeling totally convinced one way or the other, there are a few compromises. Having a 'first look' where you don't actually see eachother is an option. Hand holding around a corner/door and praying with eachother beforehand are a few really sweet options that I have seen before. But get creative if these aren't your jam!
So the bottom line with whether or not to have a first look is if you are comfortable with it. As you can see, there are a lot of pros to doing one, but there are also a few significant cons.
What I can't stress enough is that it is your wedding day. YOU ARE IN CHARGE. Not your Mom, not your best friend and definitely not your photographer (although I mean hey, take it easy on me I'm just trying to help OKAY?!).
That's it that's all.
If you have any questions for me, leave a comment below/email me/slide into my DMs. I am here to help!
Until next time,