Why Should You do a First Look? | Lehigh Valley Wedding Photographer

Are you doing a first look? It's the third question I ask my couples after asking what time their ceremony starts and what time their reception starts. It's the next piece in creating the schedule of their day. I'd say my couples are 50/50 in doing first looks and doing a traditional walk down the aisle. I'm fairly indifferent about the whole thing because I can see both sides of the coin. I was that bride who wanted the traditional walk down the aisle with the groom seeing me for the first time when those church doors opened. It seems so romantic and apart of the fairytale of a wedding day. Plus, most of our parents and grandparents are very traditional and love this. And you want to make your mom and grandma happy, am I right?!

I'll say this, whatever you choose to do on your wedding day, I support and will be there for you. Remember, I didn't do a first look either, so I get it. I'll get all the pictures your heart desires NO matter what. BUT, let's break down why a first look is awesome.

  1. It's not superstition, your marriage will be fine.Are you skipping it because your marriage will be ruined if he sees you before? No. Guys. Come on. If you were to get divorced and blame it on having a first look, please pull out your insurance card and find therapists that are covered, cause ya need one. That's just silly and we all know it. I won't walk under ladders, open umbrellas in my house and loath a black cat crossing my path, but this?? This one just ain't true. :P

  1. It's the only time in the day you get to be alone.Your wedding day is SO busy. The schedule is jam packed. From the time you sit in that chair for your hair and make up to the time the venue is clearing the tables at the strike of midnight, it's a whirlwind. There isn't a minute in the day that you really get to be alone. Yes, you'll get pictures of just the two of you, but it's quick paced. We usually only have 20 minutes or so to do this together, so we're moving and I'm in your face.

    The first look is truly the only quiet, slow, intimate moment you get to have together. I give you directions, tell you what's gonna happen and what you can do, I put my big boy lens on and back away. I let you guys do your thing and be alone. That's it. You get to completely bask in the beauty of being all done up and knowing that in just a little bit, you're committing your life to this person in front of all of your friends and family. That's huge and so special!

  1. You get a set of images of the two of you, you wouldn't otherwise have. You'll get shots of you walking down the aisle and of the groom seeing you, but it's quick. We're talking two main shots. A first look is a full set of images. The moment you walk up to your groom, the second he turns around and sees you for the first time, the tears and smiles you share, him spinning you around and fully taking in your beauty. The embrace and kiss you get to share. It's priceless and a full story told through images you wouldn't otherwise have.

  1. You get to enjoy your party.How much are you spending on this event? How much are you paying for everyone to be there? How many guests are there that you haven't seen in ages? Ask any bride and groom. Any. I guarantee a large percentage of them will talk about how they never got to talk to their Aunt Suzy who flew all the way in from California and spent little time chatting with their cousins who they haven't seen since they were 15.

    Having the opportunity to take all of your pictures before the ceremony gives you the entire cocktail hour to be at your party. To eat. To get a drink. To sit down. To pee. To powder your nose. A full extra hour to enjoy your guests. That's a big deal.

  1. A slower, more relaxed pace to the day. Whether I take all of your pictures before the ceremony or after, we will have about the same amount of time to do your pictures. It's not really that big of a deal. It's not going to make or break your schedule. What it WILL do, though, is create more room in the schedule to breath.

    If you don't do a first look, we are rushing to the ceremony and the SECOND it's over, I'm pulling family for family formals. And then getting them out of there and rushing the bridal party in, then quickly pulling you away to do your bride and groom shots. It's soldier style, "Go, go go! Let's move!". We have 1 hour to get our pictures in and done and then we have to get you lined up for the reception. No time to powder your nose, barely any time to pee, no time for hors d'oeuvres... We gotta keep going.

    With a first look, we have the time to do these shots, and an hour to do all bridal party and bride and groom shots. We have the leeway of deciding if we want to do family formals before the ceremony or after, then we all get to breath during cocktail hour. This simply adds more grace and movement in the day when there's more perceived time to work with. There are breaks between pictures. I tell all of my couples, you are going to HATE having your pictures taken by the end of cocktail hour (if you don't do a first look). You're standing in front of my lens for at least an hour and we are busting out the shots to cram them all in. We're not taking our time, moving around the premises, laughing and chatting. No, we're squeezing out every second of that hour. You don't even really have time to process that you just got married! We just keep moving. This stress is definitely relieved with a first look.

    Either way though, you're getting your pictures. Doing a first look or not certainly isn't going to compromise the quality or amount of pictures you get. It just kinda makes the process feel a little different ;) .

  1. You get to be in the moment when walking down the aisle.I don't remember walking down the aisle. Nope. Like, not even a little. I had all of these day dreams of seeing my husband for the first time, him seeing me, locking eyes and having this romantic moment. Nope. I was so effing nervous I don't remember a damn thing. I know that had we done a first look and had that moment, my nerves would have been a little more settled and I could have really enjoyed the moment and have been IN the moment (and have gotten portraits with my guy in golden hour much, much to my photographer's dismay even 8 years later!). I don't regret things, but there's definitely a part of me that feels I'd do it differently today.


So, to sum things up, if you do a first look, you're likely to get a more stress free feel to your schedule and day (certainly nothing is ever absolute), you get more alone time with your love, you get more pictures of the two of you together, you get to eat appetizers (this right here would sell me), and you get to spend more time with your guests.

With all of that said, do you. Am I gonna be mad if you choose to not do one? Of course not. Are you going to get less photos because of it? No (except for first look photos of course). Are you going to get a stressed out photographer? Nope. This is your day. You do it how you want to do it. But definitely consider how you want your day to go and how you want it to feel. You hold that power. And then I execute it for you ;)

Happy wedding planning!