Today’s post is something that I think is SO important for all couples to consider, so grab a mug of something warm and settle in with me! We’re going to talk all about first looks. For those of you that may be newer to the wedding industry, a first look is a private time for a couple to see each other before their wedding ceremony! It is one of my absolute favorite moments of the day, and I’ve been told by my couples that have done first looks that it was one of their favorite moments too! First looks are something that I encourage ALL of my couples to do.
There are SO many reasons I recommend first looks for my couples… seriously, I think I could list out at least 100 right here and right now, but I’ll spare you from that. Even with all of the positives, I often hear comments and misconceptions about first looks a lot… sometimes the comments ring true, and other times I wish I was able to take some time to clarify a few things… so today? We’re doing just that! Join me as we dive into the most common misconceptions I hear both at weddings and in client communication when it comes to first looks! What we’re talking about may just surprise you!
I hope you find today’s post helpful and encouraging as you work to figure out if a first look is right for you!
First looks are for more than just portraits!
I’ve written about this before, so I’ll keep this point relatively brief! First looks are for FAR more than just additional portrait time. While this point is a HUGE benefit of doing a first look, it definitely isn’t the reason that I recommend first looks to my couples.
I have found that the biggest advantage of a first look is actually the emotional component of it! Think about it… you have been thinking of your wedding day for a very long time. The day arrives, your family and friends are buzzing around town, and you are about to commit to a life long marriage right in front of all of them. You want to look your best… you want the details to be perfect… you want everything to go off without a hitch! Without a first look, chances are good, you’ll be spending your entire day without the human that keeps you levelheaded. This is a perfect way to let your nerves and anxiety build all day long.
When you have a private moment for just the two of you, you’re able to take the time and spend it however you would like! You can laugh and tell each other how good you look… you can share vows or can cry together… you can high five and crack a joke. My point? This is your time and you won’t have the pressure of the eyes of all of your friends and family on you for a certain reaction like you would during your ceremony. You can simply be YOU! Afterwards, you can enjoy spending your wedding day TOGETHER, hanging out with your best friends (AKA your wedding party) instead of waiting to be united at the alter later in the day!
You can’t expect your partner to react a certain way!
I hear this from someone at almost every single wedding: “____ better cry when ____ comes down the aisle!” Ok… the sentiment is sweet, but that just isn’t a fair pressure to place on anyone! The truth here is that your partner is under a lot of pressure, especially if you opt to see each other for the first time at the alter. It is unfair to place expectations on someone during a moment that feels so big! I’ll say here though that, even with a first look, it is unfair to expect a certain reaction from your partner.
Yes, there is a smaller audience and far less pressure, but if you have never seen your partner cry or get emotional, you can’t expect to see tears on your wedding day. Some couples laugh and embrace…. and that’s really sweet. Other couples are extremely emotional and take some time to tear up together… and that’s awesome too! Some couples like to laugh and joke during a situation where they may feel emotional and are trying to hide the tears… and this option is perfect as well! My point? You know who you are as people. You know how you deal with emotions on the daily, and this won’t really change on your wedding day!
Expecting something unrealistic is going to cause disappointment in the end, and that isn’t fair to you or your partner. So…. enjoy your amazing wedding day, and avoid the expectations and pressure. Keep in mind that nerves DO often make it hard for people to truly express their emotions. Your time together on your wedding day is limited and so, so special. Why let unrealistic expectations get in the way of truly enjoying your time together? Give each other the grace and freedom to react NATURALLY to the moment!
Protect your investment.
This is where we have to have a moment of real talk. Planning a wedding? It is an investment. Wedding photography? That’s an investment too! You are hiring your photographer for a specific reason, and that is to take beautiful images of you on your wedding day!
However… what a lot of people don’t realize is that taking beautiful images can take way more time than you realize. When you don’t have a first look and are planning for a 60 minute cocktail hour in between your ceremony and reception, we’ll have to clear your ceremony site of guests (this can take up to 15 minutes!), take photos with your family, photos with your entire wedding party, photos of you as a couple and still need to have the time to prep you and your group for your reception! (Think: bustle, grab a drink, use the restroom, line up for entrances, touch up hair and makeup, etc.) The photography part of this chunk of time can take anywhere from 90 minutes and on, and we’re trying to squeeze it ALL into a window that is way shorter than that.
What comes as a result? Stress & pressure for you on your wedding day and a smaller gallery after the fact! While I do work fast, I’m no miracle worker. 10 minutes of portraits WILL look different than 45 minutes of portraits… it is just a fact. If you are trying to use your time with your wedding photographer MOST efficiently, I highly recommend opting for a first look! You will be SO thankful when you have a minute or two to ENJOY everything you have worked so hard to plan!
Changing gears for just a second: I’ve written about this before, but keep in mind: with late fall and winter weddings, you might need to do a first look to have any light at all for portraits!
Bonus: This will be some of the only alone time you get on your wedding day!
One last thing before I sign off here! Unless a couple has other wishes, I keep all first looks private— no audience, other than me, my second photographer and the video team (when applicable). Family members must stay inside… wedding party members should be tucked away too… all other vendors should be tucked away too. This isn’t because I like to be mean… it is because well, a first look should be a private moment for a couple! My team definitely gives you the space that you need to feel alone during this time too!
As is, you don’t get a lot of alone time on your wedding day. Everyone wants to congratulate you and thinks they should be the first to give you a big hug! While this is so sweet, it can become pretty overwhelming! I always recommend keeping your first look private and intimate for the two of you to enjoy on your own because you deserve some alone time during your wedding day. Your day goes SO fast… you might as well plan some time just for the two of you to enjoy together!
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