As a bride who opted for a first look, it is safe to say I LOVE this new tradition. But a first look isn’t for everyone (and that is totally ok).
As a photographer, I want to make sure my couples only decide to have a first look if it makes the most sense for them and their day.
So how do you know if YOU should have a first look? Here are 6 scenarios that might have your photographer suggesting a first look.
1. It will be dark out when your ceremony ends
If you are getting married in the fall or winter, chances are that the sun will set before we are able to get outside for photos. Sunset can happen as early at 4:30 p.m. in the winter. If you have your heart set on outdoor photos with your husband, a first look might be the only way to get those natural light images if your ceremony time cannot be adjusted.
2. You don’t want to miss cocktail hour
You know that fun little part of the party where you get to hang out with all your amazing friends / family? You might miss this part of your day if there isn’t enough time between your ceremony and reception. I suggest a minimum of 1.5 hours between your ceremony and reception for wedding party, bride and groom and family photos.
If you want to make sure you are at cocktail hour you will want to have 2 hours between the end of your ceremony and your cocktail hour (and even more time if the locations are far apart / you want to stop at different locations for photos).
If you are getting married in the same location as your reception, your cocktail hour will likely happen right after your ceremony, so chances are you will miss almost all of your cocktail hour without a first look.
3. Your timeline doesn’t allow enough time to take all the photos you want during cocktail hour
Cocktail hours are typically 60 minutes. This means we have 55 minutes to get all of your family photos, wedding party photos and your bride + groom photos (and reception details) during this time. If photos are a huge priority for you and you want a lot of group photos, we likely won’t have enough time to get all the combinations you want during your cocktail hour.
By having a first look, you can get all of the group photos done before the ceremony so that after the ceremony you can just celebrate. Or you can break up the photos, and save family photos and / or extended family photos for after the ceremony, so you can enjoy a little bit of cocktail hour.
4. You want to go to multiple locations for photos AND still be at cocktail hour
Do you want to take photos at different locations around Chicago or your wedding venue? If so, it will be tricky to go to multiple spots AND get all the photos of you, your wedding party and your family in less than 55 minutes. If this is the case, a first look might be the perfect answer so you can go to all the locations you want for photos without being rushed.
5. You and / or your fiancé get SUPER nervous in front of a lot of people
If being the center of attention isn’t your thing, a first look might be the perfect way to calm your wedding day nerves. Instead of worrying about everyone staring at you as you walk down the aisle and see each other for the first time all day, you can have this moment in private. You will get to spend the afternoon together and even more time with your wedding party / family together before the ceremony.
6. The light will be better for photos during a different part of the day
Photographers LOVE to shoot portraits as close to golden hour as possible. If you are lusting over that beautiful warm light, your photographer might suggest scheduling your portraits during a time when the light is going to be the best for your photos. This might because it will be dark when your ceremony ends (thus needing to take the photos before the ceremony) or because the light will be better at a specific time.
Seeing each other before the ceremony does not take away from the emotion, excitement, and anticipation of walking down the aisle for your ceremony. I promise you!
I was actually MORE emotional as I walked down the aisle at my ceremony because THE moment was happening!
Still not sure if a first look is for you? Check out the reasons I think first looks are a great addition to a wedding day. And if you are looking for even more wedding advice, pop by the for brides section of this blog for my best tips, tricks, and advice.