How to Decide If a First Look Is Right for You (According to Two Pro Photographers)

There are lots of decisions you have to make during the wedding planning process and (not to add one to your already long list, but…) choosing whether or not to do a first look is one of them. The decision is a personal one and, over the years, we have worked with couples who have come to the conclusion that it was right for them and others who decided it was not.

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As photographers, our main responsibility is to capture all of the moments on your wedding day; not to persuade you to choose one thing over another. But, if deciding whether or not to do a first look on your wedding day is something you are debating, there are a couple things you should consider.

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When we get asked about first looks by couples, there are a couple of questions we ask them. What does the day-of timeline look like? How big (or small) is their wedding party? Are there specific shots they want? Do they want to attend their cocktail hour? These are some of the logistical factors that come into play (from the photographer’s perspective) that we always discuss with couples.

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For example, if they have a large guest count or a really large family, photos after the ceremony will take more time. This means there is less time for couple’s portraits; in which case, doing a first look would be helpful. Also, if they are getting married in the summer months when sunset isn’t until 8:00pm, we always suggest doing some sunset photos. So, during the summer months, it’s not really necessary to do a first look since there is already time scheduled for portraits. And every once in a while we work with a couple who really wants to jump straight from the ceremony into the cocktail hour. So, those party animals usually do a first look.


Reasons why you should consider doing a first look at your wedding

1. It’s intimate. A lot more intimate then seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle in front of lots of people.

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2. It is usually the only quiet time the two of you will get all day. The couples we work with often say it’s nice to have that moment alone before the day gets busy.

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3. You guys can be goofy! And take pictures that might be awkward in front of your family.

4. You’ll end up with more time for photos. On average we get about an extra 20-30 minutes of time with couples for portraits when they choose to do a first look.

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5. Your make-up and hair is super fresh for the photos.

6. It’s an opportunity to get the jitters out.

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7. You’ll get to spend more time with your wedding guests (think cocktail hour).

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Reasons Why Doing a First Look Might Not Be For You

1. There is something special about seeing your soon to be spouse for the first time walking down the aisle. It’s a tradition a lot of people like to keep.

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2. Sometimes the only time that a first look fits into the timeline is in the middle of the day. And usually, it’s not the best lighting for photos.

3. In order to have the time for a first look, you will probably have to start hair and make-up earlier in the day. This means you’ll be wearing you dress or suit for a longer period of time; which might not be that fun in the summer months when it tends to be warm

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Regardless of your decision to do a first look at your wedding or not, there are tons of private and special moments to capture. We understand that you wedding day is something you want to remember forever and we always plan ahead with our couples to make sure that all of the bases are covered because in the end, your wedding day isn’t about all the little details. It’s about celebrating your love and new family!

All photos via Shane and Lauren Photography

Want more big day photography ideas?

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