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Wedding First Looks? The Pros & Cons of Having A First Look At Your Wedding Or Elopement

If you’re recently engaged and in the midst of wedding planning, you’ve probably come across the topic of first looks, and you might be torn about whether to have one or not. Hey, I get it! It’s a big decision.
If you don’t know what a first look is, let me explain. A first look is a time before the ceremony when you and your partner have the opportunity to enjoy being alone for a period of time before you tie the knot. There are lots of reasons for and against first looks, but let’s discuss some of the pros and cons so you have the best reasons at hand and can make an educated decision that’s right for you and your partner.

Pros of a wedding first look:

Controlled Alone Time

The most important purpose of a first look is to be alone with your partner. Think about it: you’re not going to be alone at any other point of the day. You’re both going to be pulled in so many different directions from friends and family who have traveled far that you’ll hardly have time to enjoy each other’s presence on a very big day in your lives. Having just a few minutes to enjoy each other in a controlled environment without anyone else except your photographer and videographer will be refreshing for you both and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Photo Benefits

The only people that should be with you at your first look are your photographer and videographer. It’s amazing the depth of emotion and candid shots I (the photographer) get during this time. It’s like a switch where the couple let down their guards and just allow themselves to be in the moment, be with each other, and be themselves…and that’s where the most beautiful shots come from.

Peace of Mind

If there’s one thing couples always say after having a first look at their wedding, it’s that that they were so much more relaxed going into the ceremony. Whether that’s from getting the tears out beforehand, reassuring each other’s nerves, or taking a few moments to laugh with each other, having a first look lets you get all that nervous energy out so you can go into the ceremony with a clear mind and really take in all that is going on around you.

Free Up Your Timeline

It’s amazing how much having a first look can free up your timeline for the rest of the day. If you think about it, when couples choose not to see each other before the ceremony, it severely limits the shots you can take, which leaves them doing most of them in the one-hour window between the ceremony and reception. But once you’ve seen each other, we can now do full bridal party, couple, and even family portraits, and we have lots of time to do it instead of cramming to get them all done in
that one hour. Now post-ceremony, you have options with how to spend your time before the reception. Maybe you want some relaxed time to check your hair and makeup before the big entrance into the reception or you want to mingle with your guests. Hey, you might just want to spend that hour with your partner, eating hors d’oeuvres and celebrating officially being married!

Cons of doing a first look at your wedding:

No Traditional Big Reveal

We all know the big reveal moment: the doors open, the bride walks down the aisle with her father, and her partner’s reaction is overwhelming. I totally get it. It’s an emotional, beautiful moment. If that’s what you’ve always been dreaming of, great. You go for it! But chances are, even if you do decide to have a first look, you and your partner will still be overcome with all the emotion that walking down the aisle brings, and it will still be just as special as if you hadn’t seen each other beforehand.

Have to be Ready Earlier in the Day

Having a first look does require that you be fully ready, in your gown and all, much earlier in the day than if you opted not to do a first look. Think of it this way: because you’re getting all of the pictures done prior to the ceremony so you can have more time mingling or relaxing during the cocktail hour, you, your partner, and all bridal party members and family need to be up and at it much earlier.

You Won’t Actually Be Married For Couple Portraits

Since you would be doing all of your couple portraits before the ceremony, you won’t technically be married when posing for those. But hey, you can pretend, right? After all, you will be married shortly after. You can even still slip the wedding rings on your fingers for the photos if you want to. But I understand if that’s not your thing!

Your Dress Could Get Dirty

Depending on where you decide to do your first look, your dress might get a tad dirty before you walk down the aisle. But this can easily be avoided depending on your venue. If you’re getting married outdoors on a farm and your first look is out in the fields, yeah, it might be a factor. But if your venue is indoors and your first look is in a courtyard or indoor space, your dress will still look pristine for the ceremony.
So, in the end, you’ve got a choice to make, and no matter what kind of wedding you’re planning or what venue you have, consider these pros and cons. I love it when my clients choose to have a first look, and they are always so glad they did, but you have to decide what is right for you. If having the traditional big reveal moment is important, go for it, and the timeline and everything else will work itself out. However, if you like the idea of having a first look with your partner, do it and you’ll have lots of candid and special wedding photos to prove that your day was not any less special because of it.

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