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firstlook

To do the first look or not? That is the question. 

With every wedding photography consultation inevitably, the question arises as to whether or not a first look is necessary. Traditionally, the first time the groom sees the bride is as she is walking down the aisle. The groom, overpowered by the beauty and love for his soon to be wife, slowly sheds tears of pure happiness. At least - this is the ideal situation that every bride has imagined and the most coveted wedding photo of all time. 

As realities of the wedding timeline set-in, couples are increasingly opting for a first-look. The first-look takes place before the ceremony and is a private moment between the bride and groom. Often, the wedding photographer is the only witness of the couple glimpsing each other for the first time. 

Here, we will examine the pros and cons of first-look compared to the time-honored tradition of waiting to see the blushing bride walking down the aisle. 

Before we dive in, after photographing hundreds of weddings, I have concluded that the first-look is a personal choice. I might suggest one way over another, depending on the timeline, but it is YOUR DAY. 

To do the first look or not? That is the question. 

With every wedding photography consultation inevitably, the question arises as to whether or not a first look is necessary. Traditionally, the first time the groom sees the bride is as she is walking down the aisle. The groom, overpowered by the beauty and love for his soon to be wife, slowly sheds tears of pure happiness. At least - this is the ideal situation that every bride has imagined and the most coveted wedding photo of all time. 

As realities of the wedding timeline set-in, couples are increasingly opting for a first-look. The first-look takes place before the ceremony and is a private moment between the bride and groom. Often, the wedding photographer is the only witness of the couple glimpsing each other for the first time. 

Here, we will examine the pros and cons of first-look compared to the time-honored tradition of waiting to see the blushing bride walking down the aisle. 

Before we dive in, after photographing hundreds of weddings, I have concluded that the first-look is a personal choice. I might suggest one way over another, depending on the timeline, but it is YOUR DAY. 

WEDDING FIRST LOOK: THE PROS 

I hate to break it to you - but most people, especially men, don't prefer to cry in public. There are exceptions to every rule, but I have come to find that having a private first-look can ease nerves and allow for a more profound expression of emotion. Not to mention, a first-look might be the only time that you and your partner have privately together on your special day. The first-look offers a rare intimate respite from the whirlwind that will be your wedding day. Carpe diem, as some would say! 

Also, you cannot ignore the pure practicality of this modern trend. If you're all about making it to your cocktail hour, then a first-look cannot be overlooked. It allows for the most crucial photography (family, bridal party, and couple portraits) to be completed before the ceremony leaving nothing but celebration immediately after the service. To all my clients, who are all about the party, take note. 

Finally, if your heart is set on natural light photos and your wedding is in the winter, you might have to have a first-look. The sunset is around 4:30p - 5:30p during the winter, which leaves little to no time to complete all the natural light portraits after the ceremony with enough ambient light. I hate to be the bearer of bad news if you already booked a winter wedding and are vehemently against a first look! 

WEDDING FIRST LOOK: THE CONS

Remember when I said every couple is unique? Well, brace yourself for this one: some people feel more pressure to react a certain way during a first look and end up not emoting at all. The total inverse can be real and leave the bride very disappointed! Keep in mind that you will not be truly alone. Your photographer and videographer will be discrete in the background. If you are hyper-aware of the cameras, then a private first-look might not be the best option. 

A first look should take place roughly 1 - 1.5 hours before the ceremony, so that the wedding party can tuck themselves away before guests arrive. After all, we do want some element of surprise, and everyone is there to see the bride come down the aisle! This timing can cause two potential issues. Firstly, the wedding party must be dressed relatively early, depending on the start of the ceremony. Secondly, it could be tough to get all the necessary family members wrangled and picture ready before the ceremony. 

Finally, nothing beats a good tradition. Historically, it is considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. If you are superstitious or traditional in any way, you might want to stick with the tried and true. 

Either way, a first-look v. more traditional approach can be powerful in its own right. The first time the groom sees the bride is the most emotionally charged moment, and every couple has different reactions. Only you can decide what is best for you emotionally and practically. I am only your wedding photography guide to tell you what is best from experience! 

Happy planning! 

Natalie 

WEDDING FIRST LOOK: THE PROS 

I hate to break it to you - but most people, especially men, don't prefer to cry in public. There are exceptions to every rule, but I have come to find that having a private first-look can ease nerves and allow for a more profound expression of emotion. Not to mention, a first-look might be the only time that you and your partner have privately together on your special day. The first-look offers a rare intimate respite from the whirlwind that will be your wedding day. Carpe diem, as some would say! 

Also, you cannot ignore the pure practicality of this modern trend. If you're all about making it to your cocktail hour, then a first-look cannot be overlooked. It allows for the most crucial photography (family, bridal party, and couple portraits) to be completed before the ceremony leaving nothing but celebration immediately after the service. To all my clients, who are all about the party, take note. 

Finally, if your heart is set on natural light photos and your wedding is in the winter, you might have to have a first-look. The sunset is around 4:30p - 5:30p during the winter, which leaves little to no time to complete all the natural light portraits after the ceremony with enough ambient light. I hate to be the bearer of bad news if you already booked a winter wedding and are vehemently against a first look! 

WEDDING FIRST LOOK: THE CONS

Remember when I said every couple is unique? Well, brace yourself for this one: some people feel more pressure to react a certain way during a first look and end up not emoting at all. The total inverse can be real and leave the bride very disappointed! Keep in mind that you will not be truly alone. Your photographer and videographer will be discrete in the background. If you are hyper-aware of the cameras, then a private first-look might not be the best option. 

A first look should take place roughly 1 - 1.5 hours before the ceremony, so that the wedding party can tuck themselves away before guests arrive. After all, we do want some element of surprise, and everyone is there to see the bride come down the aisle! This timing can cause two potential issues. Firstly, the wedding party must be dressed relatively early, depending on the start of the ceremony. Secondly, it could be tough to get all the necessary family members wrangled and picture ready before the ceremony. 

Finally, nothing beats a good tradition. Historically, it is considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. If you are superstitious or traditional in any way, you might want to stick with the tried and true. 

Either way, a first-look v. more traditional approach can be powerful in its own right. The first time the groom sees the bride is the most emotionally charged moment, and every couple has different reactions. Only you can decide what is best for you emotionally and practically. I am only your wedding photography guide to tell you what is best from experience! 

Happy planning! 

Natalie 

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