Well, here I am again, with something really important to talk about. You’ve thought about it, I’ve thought about it, we’ve all thought about it. The winner of the age old wedding question is…. have a designated “first look”, or wait till you walk down the aisle?
Just in case you live underground, or have been out of the loop, (or maybe you’re just a dude that hasn’t really kept up on the shenanigans pertaining to all things wedding) a “first look” is that special time you and your honey take before the ceremony. You can pick a super cool (aka photogenic) spot to check each other out, exchange your first wedding day hug, and obviously whisper sweet nothings to each other. Theoretically, this will be the first time the groom will see his blushing bride on their wedding day. Presh.
I’ve actually talked to A LOT of people about whether or not to have a first look. Because this is the first time you see your significant other on your big day, it’s pretty important, but is it better to stay traditional and not sneak a peek before the ceremony? My answer might not seem like an “answer” to you, but it is my professional (and personal) opinion. And it is…
EITHER WAY IS FINE.
In other words, it’s your day, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some photographers will tell you that they strongly suggest a first look. This gives them more time for pictures, and can be a little less pressure on their job. Other photographers won’t say anything, but when it comes around time to do the pictures after the ceremony, they take their sweet time getting all the shots they want, instead of remembering you have 300 guests waiting. Kind of a big deal, right? I think so, too.
So what I will do is give you some pros and cons to think about. Maybe I won’t even call them “cons”… just… things to factor in.
If you do a first look, the first time you and your honey see each other (depending on how you plan it), you can be all alone–save the photographer/videographer(s). Our audio engineer, Kevin, and his wife Jenna decided to do a first look, and opted to not have anyone around at all. They knew we’d be able to catch a ton of pictures through out the day, so it was more important to them to have that first look moment on their wedding day to be just them. As special as this day is, you’ve got everyone and their mom buzzing around you. It’s just the way it goes… so 5-10 minutes of privacy for that first look? Not a bad idea. (Note: even if you just have the photographers there, you will hardly notice. This moment happens once in a lifetime, and having someone there to catch the reaction(s) can be a good thing!)
If you can get pictures done prior to the ceremony, you will essentially be done with the “formal” pictures, and can basically head straight to your reception. Usually a general cocktail hour is provided for guests while the bride and groom take family photos, etc. If the bride and groom have already gotten pictures out of the way, this gives you an extra hour (or two!) to be with your guests, instead of making them wait!
By skipping a cocktail hour you could end up saving quite a bit of money by not having to entertain or feed your guests during the time that they wait for you to finish up pictures. If you are on a tighter budget, this may be something that could free up some money for something else.
“The Cons” (or reasons you could argue “against” having a first look)
Tradition is a big deal. It’s ingrained in us as humans to follow cultural traditions (and make new ones). While having a first look might be “convenient”, it hasn’t always been the traditional way to do things. Even if tradition isn’t big to you, you may have noticed your family (and even friends) might disagree. While I wouldn’t encourage you to let someone else plan your wedding–unless that’s what you want!– it still is important to keep them in mind. If tradition is important to someone, and this goes for all traditions– not just whether or not to wait to see each other, then consider meeting that wish for them. Especially if it’s a discrepancy between what you and your fiance want to do.
The Surprise Factor.
So in all honesty, I know that someday in the future if I get married, I probably won’t do a first look. (You should by now know that I completely, one hundred percent, endorse your hypothetical decision to go that route, however.) What are my personal reasons? Only that I want that surprise factor. Knowing that my hypothetical fiance has waited all day to see me, and the first time he does is as I walk down the aisle to become his wife. It’s special, and it’s probably what I’ll do if the situation arises. (Don’t quote me on it though, I’m not making any bets.) It is important to preserve the “sanctity” or specialness of whatever moments happen on your wedding day. It happens once, and I promise you the day is going to FLY by. If it’s important, then stick to your guns and go the old fashioned route.
Photography Time is Expected.
If your primary reason to have a first look is to not have to keep your guests waiting post ceremony, that’s valid. However… remember that they have come to celebrate with you on YOUR big day. If you only care about pleasing your guests, you might as well not spend money on a wedding and just buy everyone massages instead. (Kidding!) Everyone assumes a photographer will be there to document the day, so asking them to hang out for an hour afterwards while you take pictures isn’t bizarre or out of this world… it’s expected.
So… that’s what I think. Both Kevin and Micah were married last year, and both decided to do a first look. Neither of them regret this in anyway whatsoever, and would still recommend it. Personally, I may not go that route. Either way… as photographers we’re here to work with you and FOR you. If anyone tells you different, set ‘em straight.
If you have any questions about this don’t be afraid to ask! It isn’t a weird question, in fact I get asked this A LOT. Also, if you’re already married and you went with a first look or the traditional route, leave us some comments. We love feedback, and it may help others figure out what’s best for them!