Should you do a first look // Pros and cons

First off, what is a first look?

A first look is where the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony. I typically encourage couples to only have the photographer, videographer and themselves at the first look. This keeps the experience intimate and personal which can encourage authentic emotions between the Bride & Groom.

Why are they a good idea?

So often I’m asked by potential clients to explain the benefits of doing a first look on a wedding day. The short answer is it helps the day run smoothly by combining most of the portraits into fewer sections, such as: Bride & Groom portraits, posed family portraits, & wedding party portraits. It also helps us get more candid shots & posed portraits of you and your fiancé throughout the day (since you end up spending more of the day together). So, more time together equals more opportunities for photos and memorable moments.

After doing so many, I also started to notice that when we do a first look, we tend to capture more of an authentic reaction from both the Bride & Groom. This happens since, during a first look, you’re sharing a private moment together; whereas during a ceremony, you have 100+ guests watching your reaction. This also tends to help the couple’s stress level (and emotion level).

First look vs no first look

For weddings that do a first look, I typically recommend allowing 45-60 minutes for the first look with Bride & Groom posed pictures following, 30 minutes for wedding party pictures, & 30 minutes for family posed pictures. For weddings not planning to do a first look, I recommend doing an hour for the Bride’s side before the ceremony (including any family pictures with the Bride and pictures with the bridesmaids), as well as an hour for the Groom’s side before the ceremony (all family shots with the Groom and with the groomsmen), and lastly, at least one hour after the ceremony  (it would include 20 minutes for all family shots that include both the Bride & Groom, 10 minutes for whole wedding party shots, and then 30 minutes for just Bride & Groom portraits)… at minimum.

Your ceremony time will play a big role in how this last hour of portraits will turn out. (If possible, it’s best for your ceremony to end at least an hour before sunset.) So, if you aren’t doing a first look and the sunsets at 7:00pm, that would put your ceremony time at 5:30 pm for a 30-minute ceremony. Of course, these are only suggestions, but in my experience this is what works best for pictures.​

Ceremony time isn’t quite as important for weddings doing a first look. However, I do encourage the Bride and Groom to allow at least a few minutes before sunset for extra pictures of the two of them.

There’s more helpful information here for planning a wedding! Let us know if you have any questions!

 

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Hi, I’m April

I'm a wedding photographer based out of Huntsville, Alabama.

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