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Should I do a First Look? Pros and Cons

In old wedding myths, it was bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding ceremony. This dates back to the days when marriages were arranged and the bride and groom didn’t meet till the end of the aisle. It’s said that parents wanted to ensure the groom didn’t back out and call off the wedding. So we’re moving past these outdated trends in 2022 & beyond okay?

But if you’re stuck on the romantic notion of a “First Look” with your partner, let me share some of my experiences with you in this article.

Some photographers and videographers really like to make first looks a bit of a “production”. Meaning, they’ll have you either do it twice or they might be telling you how to react in order to get a photo that fits in their portfolio. But not with me.

Before you walk out to see your partner, I’ll give gentle guidance on how to do it and what to expect. Mostly I want you to forget that you’re being photographed (& sometimes video’d too) and just enjoy the moment with your significant other.

Once you walk out towards your partner I don’t stage or manage anything. Whatever true reaction happens is what it is! It’s okay if you don’t cry or have any of those dramatic reactions you’ll see on buzzfeed’s “These grooms absolutely melted down at the sight of their brides and OMG you’ll never believe what happens next!” (eyeroll)

Let’s get to the list of why or why you shouldn’t have a first look tradition at your wedding day.

Pros: 

  • More time for portraits and more time spent with your partner on your wedding day. Sometimes we’ll even get 2 sets of portraits – those classic, traditional ones before and those at sunset or twilight that are a bit more creative and unique.

  • Also: if we do all the family photos before, you can go straight to cocktail hour after your ceremony. No waiting for Aunt Susan or Uncle Joe to come back from the bar line. This helps nix the last minute family groupings your mom might want to throw in.

  • Anxious about everyone watching you? Worried you might trip and fall on your face? I can’t promise that a first look will prevent the latter, but having seen your partner right beforehand will definitely calm some anxiety.

  • No need for “hide the bride” stress while you’re getting ready. Don’t you want that to be a relaxing time before the big event?
pros and cons of doing a first look
Rachel & Gabe’s first look reaction at Hummingbird House – a cozy and cute wedding venue in Austin
first look photos that don't ruin the wedding
first look at a wedding at lucky arrow retreat
First Look set up at Lucky Arrow Retreat

Cons

  • If hair/makeup runs late then you automatically lose your portrait time before hand. This is the number 1 reason a timeline runs late on a wedding day.

  • You can’t go to multiple locations if you’re running late from getting ready.

  • You have to get fully dressed earlier (at least 2-3 hours before your ceremony, meaning your hair and makeup starts earlier, into your dress earlier.)

  • Your family has to be dressed & camera ready at the same time as well. If your family is not getting ready with you, this can cause a delay.

  • You won’t get that fairy tale, movie “doors opening, music playing, all eyes on you” moment down the aisle if that’s something that’s important to you. 
First Look pros and cons - should I do one?

In conclusion

If you’re in the deep waters of planning your wedding day and are on the fence about having a first look, I always encourage my couples to go for it. I personally love the first look photos and think it makes for a smoother, less stressful wedding day.

You’ll never regret seeing your partner, but you might regret not. Does that make sense? You’re about to declare your love and loyalty to this one person (legally speaking.. not like.. blood oath or anything dramatic.) so you might as well spend 20 extra minutes privately enjoying yourselves. But really, it’s up to you & your partner. Don’t settle for outdated traditions at your wedding.

hill country micro wedding photographer, intimate wedding photographer in Austin, Colorful Austin wedding photography
Regardless of what you choose, there will still be that “Just Married excitement” after you say “I do”

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