One of the most common questions I get from my couples is: “Should we have a first look or wait to see each other until the aisle?” First off, both are wonderful options! So, how do you make that decision? Here are a few things to consider:
One of the biggest concerns is the timeline. Will you have enough time after the ceremony and before the reception to do family portraits, wedding party portraits, and couple portraits? Depending on the size of your family and wedding party, it can sometimes be time-consuming to wrangle in everyone after the ceremony while guests are enjoying the cocktail hour. If you have a larger time gap between the ceremony and reception, then that makes it easier to save the first look for the aisle. But if you have only an hour or less in between, you may want to consider a first look earlier in the day so you have more than enough time to get all the photos you wanted and enjoy some time with your guests.
Spending More of the Day Together
A lot of couples note that they felt a lot more calm and relaxed on the wedding day after having a first look. Perhaps it’s because they get to enjoy more time together on the wedding day and before the ceremony or maybe it’s just the reassurance that you’re both there and ready! Either way, if you or your fiance tend to get anxious or easily stressed, a first look might be a good way to start the timeline after getting ready.
For those who want to take a moment together but not see each other beforehand, another great option is to do a gift or letter exchange while standing on either side of a door or wall. This way, you can still take a moment before the ceremony but not see each other until the aisle!
At some venues, having the couple stay separated before the ceremony is difficult. As a photographer, I always do a check before leading the bride or groom into any room before the ceremony if the couple wishes to not see each other until the aisle, and other people also tend to help the couple avoid each other all morning. But sometimes, accidents happen and the couple might see each other through a window or in the parking lot while unloading items from a car. If your ceremony location has no building structures or has large windows everywhere, remaining hidden might become more of a challenge. In this case, a first look on your terms might be more preferred instead of taking the chance of seeing each other on accident.
If one of you tends to get very, very emotional sometimes a first look is nice so then you can get a lot of the tears out and then you can spend some time just the two of you to be alone, enjoy the moment, and the bride can touch-up makeup. Sometimes, couples struggle to get through the beginning of the ceremony because it can be very emotional when you first see each other. A first look can provide a chance to talk and take a moment in private to just appreciate each other and your big day. Keep in mind though, even if you do a first look before the ceremony, the experience of locking eyes as you walk down the aisle and being surrounded by your loved ones can still be an emotional, special experience.
When picturing their wedding day, some couples just have a vision of the first look being on the aisle during the ceremony. There’s just something about that traditional idea of seeing each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle. And that’s totally fine! If this is what you want, your photographer will help you plan the perfect timeline that allows plenty of time to get all of the portrait photos you want after the ceremony. If timing is an issues, creative solutions can be found to ensure your day goes as you envisioned!
More Time With Guests
Some couples choose to do a first look so then they can do photos before the ceremony. This allows for more time for the couple to spend with their guests during the cocktail hour instead of doing all of the photos during that hour. This is especially preferable for couples who have guests traveling internationally or from out of town. Often, the cocktail hour may be the only time to really get to go around and chat with guests since during the dinner, the couple is seated and eating and then by the time the dance starts, some guests have already started to leave.