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It’s one of the biggest questions we get asked by couples planning their wedding day.  Should we do a first look?  Our answer is that it really depends.  We don’t always recommend that you do one, for the purposes of photography, but it might be right for you guys anyway.  So let’s talk about the benefits and drawbacks of the first look, and when you should consider doing one.

WHAT’S A FIRST LOOK?

A first look, simply, is where the couple chooses to see each other before the ceremony.  We keep you guys separate while you’re getting ready, and then once you are both dressed up and ready for your ceremony, we find a few minutes to sneak you both to a private place where you guys can see each other for the first time.  It can be as low-key or as dramatic as you want it to be.  Some couples want their parents to be there.  Some couples like it to be just themselves.  And some couples like to do a dramatic reveal, while other couples are really casual about it.  Most often, the groom turns his back, as the bride steps in, and once the bride is ready, she tells him to turn around, and there it is–the first look. It can work just about any way you want, but the point is that it’s when you guys see each other for the first time on your wedding day.  It’s just you two, or maybe you and your closest loved ones, instead of a sea of wedding guests.  We’ve even had some couples decide to take it a step further, and just get ready together.

BENEFITS OF A FIRST-LOOK

There are some great benefits to doing the first look:

1. Most couples, when they get to have this few moments alone, actually end up enjoying the rest of their wedding day more.  There can be a lot of anxiety built into wedding days.  You’ve been planning this day for a really long time, and no matter how relaxed you’ve tried to make the event, there’s always some anxiety that starts to build.  Staying separated from each other for so long, on a day that is supposed to be about the two of you can artificially and needlessly increase the amount of anxiety.  We’ve found that couples who choose to do a first look and spend a few moments alone together before their ceremony end up a lot more relaxed, and may actually have a better time at their wedding.

2. It allows us the most flexibility for portraits.  We always want to take your couple portraits in the last hour before sunset whenever possible.  Depending on your ceremony time, this can get really tricky, especially at winter weddings.  If you have a 5:00 ceremony in January, there’s not much time between your ceremony’s end and the sunset at 5:45.   Doing a first look allows us to get all of your family portraits and wedding party portraits done ahead of your ceremony, so the only thing to do right at the end of the evening is your couple portraits.

3. Often, because it’s just the two of you, the entire thing is more genuine.  You have a few moments to embrace, to say things to each other, to be a couple. And there aren’t a hundred or so people staring at you through the lens of an iPhone.   It’s a quiet moment just for the two of you.

4. If we do some or all of the family portraits ahead of the wedding, it allows you to get to your reception quicker and doesn’t leave your guests to entertain themselves for quite as long.

SHOULD WE DO A FIRST LOOK?

We’re mostly first-look neutral.  Which means most of the time we don’t have a photography-related opinion on first looks.  If there is time, we’re happy to do all of your portraiture after your ceremony, and in a lot of cases that’s what we’ll recommend anyway, because the light is at its most beautiful then.  However from our experience with 100+ weddings, we’d say you might consider doing a first look regardless of your portrait list.  We see so many couples who choose to do them, who just relax and enjoy their wedding more.  If we were getting married today, we’d do a first look.

We strongly recommend you do a first look if you have a very long family portrait list, or if your ceremony is going to end less than an hour before sunset.

As we start to talk about your wedding in detail, we’ll be able to recommend if we think a first look is right for you, from a photography perspective.

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