What is a first look?
A first look is where the wedding couple sees each other before the ceremony. We get the groom set up and bring the bride in. The groom gets to turn around and see the bride for the very first time.
An intimate moment
A first look gives you the opportunity to have some quiet intimate time together before a crazy day. Most of my couple incorporate special touches into their first looks such as special gifts or love letters to each other.
Photos before the ceremony
One huge benefit of a first look is it gives you a more flexible timeline. You can get a good portion of your photos done before the ceremony, giving you the option to enjoy part of your cocktail hour with your guests. Often, first looks are mid day- and not during the best lighting, so I always recommend have sunset photos for the bride and groom on the timeline later in the day.
Here is an example timeline based on a summer wedding where the sun is setting around 8:00PM. You can google what time the sun sets based on your date and location and adjust the time accordingly. Sunset photos will start 20-30 minutes before the sunset time for golden hour.
2:00PM- detail shots
2:30PM- getting ready photos
3:30PM- first look with bride and groom
4:00PM- wedding party photos
4:30PM- some family photos
5:00PM- downtime/final getting ready for ceremony
5:30PM- ceremony start time
6:00PM-7:00PM – cocktail hour. During this time, any remaining formal photos for family + wedding party. Bride and groom can enjoy most of the cocktail party
7:00PM- grand entrance into reception + start of dinner
7:45PM- sunset photos for bride & groom
Enjoy your cocktail hour
I touched on this earlier, but I think it is a huge benefit. With a traditional timeline, you are spending the entire cocktail hour taking formal photos. With a first look, you can get a portion of those photos done before the ceremony. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy half your cocktail hour. Why would you want to do that? During the reception you feel like you need to walk around and talk to every table. If you are at the cocktail hour, you can walk around and greet your guests which takes off some of the pressure to do so during dinner.
Start your time together sooner
For a traditional wedding timeline, you don’t get to see your partner until the ceremony, where you can’t talk to each other. Then, you jump right into ALL your formal photos, the right into a grand entrance where you guests all want to talk to each other. Everything happens so quickly and the first look gives you the opportunity to enjoy more of the day together. Before the ceremony, it is a lot more relaxed because there are no guests there yet. Ask yourself this- it is your wedding day, do you want to spend the max amount of time together enjoying it?
Let’s be honest, we all hope the groom cries. Heck, we want everyone to be crying! During a first look, there is typically more emotion from a groom because there aren’t 100+ people staring at him to see if he’s going to cry. Honestly, your groom is either going to have emotion or not. A first look isn’t going to change that. My husband didn’t and that isn’t uncommon. If your groom is going to be emotional, he will most likely be emotional during both the first look and walking down the aisle.
The couple pictured had their family and wedding party involved in their first look. They did their first look in front of them followed by the reading of their intimate vows. They didn’t want to talk during their ceremony in front of all the guests. So, they left all the talking to their officiant. The first look gave them this intimate time to exchange those meaningful vows with their closest friends and family. I can promise there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
An alternative: try a first touch instead
A first look isn’t for everyone. Some people really want a more traditional timeline. If a first look isn’t your thing, maybe consider a first touch. A first touch is where you don’t actually turn around and see each other, but you get to hold hands and have an intimate moment together. Pictured is one of my couples who did a first touch and stood back to back at the chapel doors. They wrote love letters to each other to read. It was a super sweet moment before their ceremony.