Wedding Planning Advice: Is the First Look For You?

February 20, 2024

What’s A First Look and Should You Do It?
 

The First Look (or The Reveal) is when couples opt to see each other prior to their wedding ceremony rather than wait for the moment when the bride walks down the aisle. It’s a trend that has gained popularity in recent years, one that stirs up strong opinions about whether it’s a good or bad idea. While some photographers strongly encourage first looks, at Rising Lotus we leave it up to the couple’s discretion. We’ve compiled a list of things to consider so you and your fiancé can make an informed choice as to what’s right for your wedding day experience.
 

The Benefits of a First Look
 

First look on a wedding day, Golden OcalaBride and groom during first look on their wedding day. Image by Rising Lotus Photography, Ocala Wedding PhotographerBride and groom during first look on their wedding day. Image by Rising Lotus Photography Ocala, Florida Golden Ocala

  • Privacy. Wedding days are a beautiful whirlwind of energy, emotion, personalities and timelines. Doing a first look allows you to sneak off with your spouse-to-be and enjoy some quiet moments alone. You’ll have the opportunity to hug, kiss, exchange gifts or love notes and be present with each other before the festivities begin. This is your opportunity to have a special time together. Any hint of nervousness can be soothed away before the ceremony starts.
     

  • Location. You have the option to choose the setting for the first look and that creative freedom can make for beautiful portraits of you and your groom when you plan it out with your photographer.

  • You’ll get to enjoy cocktail hour with guests. One of the big reasons couples choose to do a first look is that they’ll be free to go straight to the cocktail hour after the ceremony and mingle with their guests.
     

  • More time for portraits. Depending on how much time you’ve carved out for the first look, you can opt to have photographs taken at various locations, resulting in a richer collection of images. All formal family portraits can also be completed prior to the ceremony without being pressed for time. If you choose to do portraits after the ceremony and depending on the length of your cocktail hour, you may only have forty minutes to an hour to complete formal family portraits (on both sides) along with your newlywed photos. The commute to the reception venue also factors into how much time you have for post-ceremony portraits.
     

  • You and your fiancé have a large immediate family and/or bridal party. Piggybacking off of the previous point, the more people that need to be included in the formal portraits, the more time your photographer will require to organize and photograph each grouping. You can schedule the first look so that there’s ample time for family and wedding party portraits prior to the ceremony.
     

  • Everyone looks their best during the earlier part of the wedding day. There’s no better time to take pictures than when hair and makeup has been freshly done and clothes look pristine. This is especially true for your wedding party and immediate family members, many of whom do not have a makeup artist on hand to do touch-ups nor access to a dressing room to freshen up before photos taken post-ceremony. By choosing to do portraits before your ceremony there’s a better chance that everyone will look great and be more focused (aka sober).

  • Loss of daylight. If your wedding takes place during the winter months when the sun sets earlier, you may want to consider doing a first look if you love the look of natural light. The First Look provides you with the opportunity to get those magical shots before the ceremony. Discuss this with your photographer beforehand to determine if you’d be okay with the use of artificial light and how he/she approaches photography in low light settings.
     

     

Reasons Why a First Look Might Not Be Right For you
 

Powel Crosley Wedding.Bride and groom take a stroll after their wedding at Powel Crosley, Sarasota. Image by Rising Lotus Photography.Powel Crosley Wedding. Image by Rising Lotus Photography, Ocala Florida Wedding Photographer

  • Tradition is important to you. If you or your fiancé have you hearts set on seeing each for the first time as you walk down the aisle, then do what feels right. Discuss your plans with your photographer so that if there any logistical issues (usually time related) you’ll have a plan in place and realistic expectations.The bride and groom may opt to do a first touch instead where they each stand on opposite sides of a wall or door and hold hands, say a prayer or exchange a gift all without seeing one another.

  • The pressure to create the “perfect” moment. Thanks to Pinterest and wedding blogs, there can be an expectation for the first look to be a grand, emotionally expressive moment. Many couples have a quieter way of moving through the world and may feel like they’re “doing it wrong” if they aren’t reduced to tears during the first look. Remember, it’s your wedding day not someone else’s.
     

  • You will have to get ready earlier. While a first look is a great idea for making the timeline easier, it results in certain events starting at an earlier point in the day. The bride and groom will have to wake up earlier. Hair and makeup have to be done earlier, the wedding party and family members have to arrive and be fully dressed earlier in the day. This may lead to the day feeling longer.

  • You and the wedding party will have to freshen up prior to the ceremony. Are you willing to pay to have your hair and makeup artist stay longer to do touch-ups after the first look? Or you fine with doing it yourself? Will your family and wedding party have access to a dressing area to neaten up before your wedding ceremony? Consider whether this will be an issue during your wedding day.
     
  • Your wedding gown could get dirty. If you want your wedding dress to be in absolute perfect condition when you walk down the aisle, then a first look might not be for you especially if you’re considering taking photos in a garden, along a beach or anywhere outdoors.

  • You perceive it to be a scripted moment. If doing a first look doesn’t feel authentic to you then don’t do it. It’s your wedding day and it should be true reflection of who you and your groom are as a couple.

There is no right or wrong choice, just the best choice for you and your particular circumstances. A good photographer will work with you to make the best of the allotted time and capture every moment beautifully no matter how long or fleeting it may be.
 


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