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.
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.
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 have sunset photos for the bride and groom on the timeline.
Here is an example timeline of events with a first look
2:00- Detail Shots
2:30- Getting ready photos
3:30- First look
4:00- Wedding party photos
4:30- Some family photos
5:30- Ceremony start time
6:00-7:00 - Cocktail hour/remaining formal photos (bride and groom can enjoy most of the cocktail party)
7:00- Grand entrance into reception + start of dinner
7:45- Sunset photos for bride and groom
This timeline is based on a summer wedding where the sunset is around 8:00 or later. You can google what time the sun sets based on your date and location and adjust the timeline accordingly. Sunset photos will start 20-30 minutes before sunset time for "golden 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.
For a traditional wedding timeline, you don't get to see your partner until the ceremony, where you can't talk each other. Then, you jump right into ALL of your formal photos, then right into a grand entrance. 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 enjoying it together?
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 this isn't uncommon. If your groom is going to be emotional, he will most likely be emotionally during both the first look and you 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 their 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
If a first look isn't your thing, maybe consider a first touch. A first touch is where you don't actually see each other, but you get to hold hands and have an intimate moment together.
Pictured is one of my couple who did a first touch and stood back to back at the chapel doors. They wrote love letters to each other they read. It was a super sweet moment before their ceremony.