The short answer is a most definite… yes and no! How’s that for a safe answer?
Back in the day when I got married to my amazing wife LeeAra, the first look was what happened when I first saw her in her beautiful dress about ready to walk down the isle. It was a moment full of emotion for both of us. One of those moments that will live forever in our memory. However, first looks don’t always happen that way anymore. For many reasons that are good solid reasons. Today, many couples choose to do a first look earlier in the day. That moment can also be filled with those same emotions and joy and live in that couple’s memory as well. So is one way better than another? No. Does it make sense to do it one way or another? Well… maybe.
I like to look at questions like this one from a pro and con standpoint. There are good reasons to do it either way. So as a couple, you need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself to make a decision.
As a photographer, I’ll admit, I have a preference. I like for a couple to do the first look earlier in the day. And, TBH, that is the trend. MOST couples choose this way today. Let me share with you why I personally think this is the best way. It’s up to you however! I’m going to capture the moment whenever it happens!
One of the most precious resources you have on your wedding day is time. There are only 24 hours in a day and as a couple you need to plan your day to get the best experience for you. As little stress as possible for you, as little wait time as possible for your guests, and as much time as you can get for photos, greeting, transportation, and even some alone time. In my experience, now over 200 weddings, I have seen that doing the first look earlier in the day can help. Especially with stress between the ceremony and the reception.
There are several reasons I personally prefer the early first look. I’ll share my thoughts here but remember differing opinions are totally OK! First, when a bride and groom first see each other in the ceremony it is a special moment. No doubt. But it’s still a special moment even if they have seen each other earlier. In fact by doing it earlier they had the ability to interact with each other and to share that moment. I’ve seen more than my share of grooms with tears as they experience that look in the no pressure time frame of earlier in the day. Some even then take time to share private vows and promises right then.
From a purely practical standpoint, an early first look frees the couple and photographer up to spend time shooting bridal party and even formal couple’s photos again in a far less pressure packed time of the day. I tell my couples that they should plan on 30 minutes for family photos, 30 minutes for bridal party photos, and 45 minutes for couple’s photos. Then, there is often travel times from the ceremony to the reception venue, and coordination times with the DJ once arriving at the venue. That can often mean that 2.5 hours between the END of the ceremony and the Grand Entrance may not be enough. But who wants to keep guests waiting that long? Nobody. Doing a series of bridal party and couple’s photos earlier can easily help that problem.
I always spend time with my couples planning with the a timeline that works. Of course, every couple is different. There is no perfect plan! However, I want your day to be amazing and your photos to reflect that. So, let’s work together and plan an amazing day!
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