To first look — or not

first look austin wedding photographer chelsea q white

 Perhaps one of the most heavily debated and emotional discussions of my job is talking with my couples about whether to do a first look.

Many people are worried that seeing each other before the ceremony will take away from the joy and excitement of walking down the aisle to your soon-to-be spouse. Some like the tradition of it.

If I may, I’d like to share some pros of doing a first look before the ceremony with the caveat that if you are one of my clients (or you want to be one of my clients!), I am absolutely happy to work with you and not do a first look. It is honestly everyone’s personal preference, and I would never push anyone to do something they don’t want to do.

So, with that being said, here are some really good reasons to do a first look.

1. You will be less stressed during your portraits and therefore will be happier with your photos when you receive them.

Wedding days go by so fast and one refrain I hear over and over again is that it is important to all couples to spend time with the guests who came to celebrate such a momentous occasion with them. By time family and wedding party photos are over, it’s time for the bride and groom photos, and I can tell you that nine times out of 10, they are just ready to get to the reception and party. If they’ve kept their guests waiting, they feel bad about spending more time away from them — and it tends to show in photographs.

With a first look, there’s typically only a handful of photos to take after the ceremony so you are able to get to the reception faster and party longer. Who doesn’t want that?!

2. You’ll be able to spend more time at your reception with your guests (see above).

Because the bulk of your photos will be done before the ceremony, you’ll only need 15-20 minutes after to wrap up anything we weren’t able to get to. If you don’t do a first look, you can count on at least an hour to an hour and a half for portraits after the ceremony.
3. Doing a first look in NO WAY takes away from the excitement and joy of walking down the aisle toward your husband.Time to get personal: my husband and I did a first look before our ceremony. I was skeptical at first but I am SO glad we did! For all of the aforementioned reasons of course, but also, it was so wonderful to be able to see each other before and really just enjoy the moment. We were able to express how good we thought each other looked and talk a little bit about everything that had happened so far that day. If the first time he saw me was during the ceremony, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to tell him how good he looked — and vice versa!

We had a few minutes to ourselves and our photographer was able to document the pure emotion of the moment. Those photos are some of my absolute favorite from our wedding day.

So I’d love to know — did you do a first look? Would you do a first look? Tell me why or why not in the comments!

  1. Jeff Armstrong says:

    Great article!
    I like how you made it clear that it’s totally ok whichever you choose, but that there’s the benefits of having more time, relaxation, and partying with the first look route.
    From my understanding, the history of the traditional “ceremony look” is rooted in arranged marriage, and had become a contemporary superstition. Obviously that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to wait until the ceremony, but it’s good to understand the history so you can make an informed decision.
    So we share this with our clients considering a first look while making sure whichever they choose is fine.

  2. Rob says:

    I love it when my couples do a first look, such special photos!

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