Q: I’m not sure if my fiance and I should do a “first look” on our wedding day or wait until the ceremony to see one another.  Any advice?

A:  I am so glad that you asked this question! I’m going to start by admitting that I’m a fan of the “first look” for a few reasons. But first, I’ll explain what a “first look” is for readers who don’t know! A “first look” takes place when a bride and groom make the decision to see one another before their ceremony. When I set up a “first look,” I typically have the bride ready in a specific location where the groom will eventually sneak up on her.  Often I will talk to the bride and build up anticipation before the moment and then I give the groom a cue, and capture their reaction to seeing one another for the first time. A “first look” is usually followed immediately by bride and groom portraits and then wedding party portraits.

Doing a “first look” allows formals to be completed in a relaxed, non-rushed fashion. Especially when everything, from getting ready to the reception, is taking place at the same location, photography time isn’t built into the schedule and unfortunately formals end up being squished in where they can fit or a couple has to miss their cocktail hour completely.

While most photographers I know are in favor of a “first look,” we also realize that it isn’t for everyone, as it’s not the traditional thing to do. I will say though, if photography is important to you and your fiance, then you should discuss doing a “first look”. Here are a few pros and cons on the subject.

Pros:

-Having a “first look” will allow the majority of your formals to be done before the ceremony, which means you get to head straight to your cocktail hour afterwards.

-You won’t be or feel rushed doing formals directly after your ceremony.

-It’s a private moment between just you and your spouse-to-be. Unlike during the ceremony, when you first see one another, you can run into each other’s arms, kiss, laugh, cry, dance, whatever you feel.

-A recent bride of mine described her first look as “the calmest moment of the day” for her and her husband-to-be, relaxing them and giving them the opportunity to chat and enjoy one another’s company before the ceremony began.

Cons:

(I’m going to admit, I had to ask friends and my fellow Brooklyn Betrothed ladies for these because I couldn’t think of any… I told you I’m biased!)

– Your guests (and sometimes your wedding party, too) won’t be able to see the “first look” between you and your significant other as you walk down the aisle.

– It’s not traditional to do a “first look” and if you’re traditional, it might take away from the build-up of walking down the aisle and seeing one another.

Those things said, I’ve never had a couple regret doing a “first look,” but the choice is of course yours!  I thought I’d share a sequence of images I shot during my sister’s “first look!”

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