Timing is everything on a wedding day. Anything that can help with the flow of the photography schedule, including the First Look, is beneficial for me but also increases your enjoyment of the day. Traditionally, family formal portraits, posed wedding party portraits and couple portraits all would happen right after the ceremony. While guests are mingling at cocktail hour, the wedding party and family would dutifully wait their turn to line up for these shots. So, rather than miss out on this time with your guests (many of whom you don’t get to see very often) a First Look can allow most if not all of those portraits to be done before the ceremony freeing up extra quality time. Or you can use that extra time for an offsite or additional couple portrait session if that’s your priority. And lastly, don’t forget that outdoor lighting can be a factor for late fall and winter weddings making a first look essential to beat a setting sun.
Not seeing each other before the ceremony is an age-old tradition that’s a steeped in superstition. Times have changed and most marriages (at least the ones I’ve photographed) are not arranged. You can absolutely decide to stick with tradition and hold the surprise for the ceremony, but if fearing bad luck is the only thing holding you back you should reconsider. Having a little extra privacy and time together on what can be an incredibly hectic day is an added bonus. Sometimes the bride (or groom) is shy about crying in front of guests and would rather get that out of her (or his) system before the ceremony. It can help calm anxious nerves to share time together alone beforehand.
The goal is to try to make the moment just as special as seeing each other first while walking down the aisle. Typically, a First Look is arranged to be in a secluded spot…no onlookers. This is your private moment. Let loose with laughter and tears and have some truly meaningful moments that become the best memory of the day.
Once you’ve collected yourself after the big moment, it’s a great time to flow into couple portraits. Wedding party portraits and/or family portraits can then be done after and prior to the ceremony as well. This gets many of the formalities out of the way and leaves the rest of the day for enjoying the event.
For other wedding planning tips to help in how to choose a wedding photographer, you can also check out these posts about wedding group portraits, picking a getting ready space, and how to decide if you need a second photographer.
Stina Booth is a wedding photographer based in northern Vermont available to shoot weddings in Vermont and throughout New England. To inquire about your wedding reach out!