We're Daniel and Bethany. Husband and wife photographers and videographers based in Dallas, TX. We hope you will sit down with some coffee and enjoy viewing our latest work, browsing resources for brides, and catching a glimpse of our lives and adventures!
We are big fans of first looks. If you aren’t familiar with what a first look is, let us explain. A first look is a moment that a bride and groom may choose to have where they see each other all dressed up before their wedding ceremony. Is this something you are considering doing? To help you decide, we are talking about the pros and cons of doing a first look.
If you really value spending time with your guests on your wedding day, then the cocktail hour is the easiest time to do that. By having a first look you can get almost all of your photos done before the ceremony. These photos can include bride and groom portraits, bridal party, and family portraits. This will free up your schedule after the ceremony so that you can attend most of your cocktail hour.
This point is actually a really good one to consider. If you have a first look, you can take most of your posed photos earlier in the day. Your hair and makeup will be looking it’s best at this point. This is especially true if you will end up crying during your ceremony. The same is true for your bridesmaids.
There are numerous reasons that your wedding day timeline can fall behind schedule. Sometimes you have a really verbose officiant. Or maybe your ceremony itself starts late. While your ceremony might end later than scheduled, that doesn’t mean that your reception timeline is going to get pushed back. Most venues and planners will still want to stick to the original reception time. (This is to ensure that the food is fresh.)
Cocktail hour will be shortened and so will your portrait time. Without a first look, the cocktail hour is when couples’ portraits, bridal party photos, and family portraits are taken. This time will also be shortened, meaning that it will end up being rushed. If you have a first look, you don’t have to worry about being rushed, because you will already have completed most, or all, of your portraits already!
Couple’s portraits are usually taken right at the end of cocktail hour without a first look. This is because bridal party and family portraits will need to be fit into that hour too. That usually means that you will have less than 30 mixtures for photos of just the two of you. This is especially true if you have a large family or bridal party.
With a first look (and good planning), you can have at least 45 minutes of extra portrait time. This is in addition to the portraits that you would have taken of the two of you right after your first look. With first looks, we usually use the time right after the first look to take more traditional portraits of the two of you. And if you really value portraits, we will have more fun and have the flexibility to be a little more adventurous/creative for post ceremony portraits. We can have a little more fun with portraits after the ceremony because we aren’t as concerned about keeping you both spotless.
This is a really important pro to consider if you really value photos and want a lot of portraits of the two of you together on your wedding day.
Your wedding party will be thrilled for multiple reasons. At the beginning of the day your bridesmaids and groomsmen are going to be the most enthusiastic and cooperative. They won’t be tired and your bridesmaids feet won’t be hurting yet either. This will lead to the wedding party photos being more fun and (especially the guys) being more cooperative so that you can get the photos you really want.
Every time we our couples have a first look, we see how excited the bridesmaids and groomsmen are when we tell them that they aren’t needed for photos and are free to join cocktail hour.
You can ride the high of your ceremony emotions during cocktail hour if you choose to do a first look. Having to go strait to portraits (especially the craziness that often goes on during family portraits) after the ceremony will definitely put a dampener on those post ceremony vibes. It really is so great to be able to enjoy those highs with your new spouse and friends instead.
If you are weighing the pros and cons of doing a first look, don’t forget to consider this point. When you have a first look, you will get to have a moment just between the two of you to see each other for the first time without having an audience.
A lot of our couples that opt to have a first look say after wards that this was their favorite moment of their wedding day. Having this time alone together will also help calm your nerves. And for those of you concerned about getting emotional (grooms especially), you can do so without worrying about people watching.
We have heard the concern that having a first look will lessen the magic of walking down the aisle. The opposite seems to be the case though. Many couples say that they were more in the moment and could better appreciate the moment because they weren’t in shock or fighting nerves.
The first look will lead to scheduling one or two hours of portraits before the ceremony. This will mean that your wedding day hair and makeup will need to start that much earlier to accommodate the first look. This can be especially less than ideal if you have an earlier ceremony. Some of our noon ceremony brides have had to start getting ready as early as 6am.
We touched on this just a little bit earlier in this blog post. Our couples that have done first looks still exhibit plenty of emotions on the aisle. But this is still something to consider for yourself. Especially if you have always dreamed of that magical moment when you see each other for the first time while walking down the aisle.
A first look is not traditional (especially in the western culture). If tradition is really important to you, than this is definitely a con to doing a first look. You may want to decide against it if it just doesn’t feel right, even if you do love all of the pros.
We are big fans of the first look. They are amazing for couples’ portraits the timeline, and stress levels. But we never want to push anyone to do something they aren’t comfortable with. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of doing a first look and decide for yourselves if it’s right for you.
If you are still on the fence, think about what you value most for your wedding day. Is it spending time with your guests? Keeping with tradition? Portraits? Let that help guide you in your decision making and do what will make you happy.