Should I do a first look on my wedding day?

Should I do a first look on my wedding day?

That’s a good question.  One that you’re probably asking yourself if you’re planning a wedding.  But first things first, lets start with what a first look is, because some of you might not know.  A first look on a wedding day, is time set aside where the couple sees each other before the ceremony.  There’s a lot of benefits to doing this, which I’ll discuss in this blog.  Although it may make sense for most people, some of these benefits might not apply to you.  I’ll outline the reasons why its helpful to do so and also why it may not matter to you.  Hopefully this helps you decided if a first look on your wedding day is right for you.

First look benefit #1 on your wedding day – Maximizing time with your guests

Doing a first look on your wedding day allows you to take more photos earlier in the day, thus maximizing time with your guests later on.  Because you’ll be seeing each other, you can schedule photos with the wedding party and/or family before the ceremony starts.  This allows you to spend more time with your guests, most of whom will arrive later on.

First look benefit #2 – Allowing your friends and family to have more time to enjoy the party

A traditional wedding schedule will include a cocktail hour in between the ceremony and dinner.  This typically gives guests something to do while the couple is taking care of portraits.  If there is no first look, couples usually do family formal portraits, wedding party portraits and then couple portraits before joining the party.  This means that those in the wedding party and family have to hang around and wait till most of those photos are done before heading to cocktail hour.

By doing a first look and taking care of portraits before the ceremony, you’re allowing those people to have more time to enjoy the party.  They can head to cocktail hour straight away after the ceremony.

Maybe the above benefits don’t apply to you…

If you’re not doing a wedding party or have a very small wedding party this may not matter as much.  Likewise if you have a small group of family portraits this also may not apply.  Its going to take less time to photograph smaller groups of people so the time your saving might be nominal.

General Rules of Thumb about the time it takes for photos:

Family Formals – Plan for about 2.5 minutes per grouping.  For example if you have a list of 10 different groups of family members this will usually take about 25 minutes.  Add more time if you’re doing some groups that are larger than 20 people all together.

Wedding Party Portraits – Plan for at least 30 minutes if you have a wedding party of 4 or more people on each side.  This allows for time to do a group shot of each side of the wedding party, the whole wedding party together, and then individuals of each wedding party member with the bride or groom.

Wedding First look benefit #3 – Having some quiet time together

There is a lot going on a wedding day.  Which is fun and awesome, being able to see all your favorite people and celebrate together.  As fun as that is, you’re also going to be pulled in a bunch of different directions.  Having a first look with your fiance, gives you some quiet time together before all that commotion starts, to just enjoy being with each other for a few moments.

First look benefit #4 – It breaks up photos for the day allowing you to feel more comfortable in front of the camera

Sometimes doing a long block of photos can make you feel tired.  Breaking up the day with some photos early on in the day and some photos after the ceremony gives you more energy for those photos and can make you feel more relaxed.  This can also help allow you to look more comfortable in those portraits too.

First look benefit #5 – It adds more variety to your couple portraits

Doing a mix of couple portraits right after the first look and then some more after the ceremony will allow for a good amount of variety.  Breaking them up some earlier and some later in the day will give you more options for different locations and backgrounds.

Why not to do a wedding first look?

The number one reason my couples don’t do a first look is because they’re traditionalists.  They want that moment when their fiance walks down the aisle to be the first moment they see each other.  Obviously from this blog post you can tell I’m a big proponent for first looks.  I think regardless if you see each other or not before the wedding, that moment the love of your life walks down the aisle is going to be special regardless.

That being said, everyone is different.  And if you value that moment, then waiting to see each other till the ceremony is really important and I completely respect that.  This is your day and as your photographer, what’s important to you is important to me.  My number one priority is serving you in a way that captures the day how you want it to be.

If you’re not doing a first look and have a wedding party…

I would suggest making time to do portraits of each side of the wedding party separately before the ceremony.  This will save time later on.  That way, the only photo you’ll be missing of the wedding party is the whole group together, which you can take care of after the ceremony.

Well, I hope this gives you some fuel for thought.  If you have any questions or would like advice on planning time for your photography, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at, text or call me at (720) 280-9503, or fill out my contact form.  Happy wedding planning!

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May 1, 2019

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