Should I Do a First Look? Thoughts From a Bride Who Said She Didn’t Want One

First looks. They’re just a standard part of any wedding day photography timeline at this point. But, they’re also something that many of us fret over. Should we do one? Should we not do one? Will it make our day less special? Will it make it more special?

We’ve all seen a thousand, a million different first look variations on wedding blogs. The tearful ones, the joyful ones, the goofy ones. So, how do you decide if you want to do a first look?

SHOULD I DO A FIRST LOOK?

First, I’m going to break down the reasons I didn’t want a first look, and then, I’m going to let you know why we did one.

WHY I DIDN’T WANT A FIRST LOOK

I didn’t want to do a first look because of a. tradition, and b. I wanted to have that moment where I’d see Adam’s reaction at the end of the aisle waiting for me. I imagine those are the same reasons as any bride who is adamantly against a first look.

WHY WE DID A FIRST LOOK

So, why did we do a first look? It came down to practical reasons. With a winter wedding, sunlight is not on your side. For our wedding date, December 2, we were looking at a sunset of around 4:40 PM. We had already pushed the ceremony up as much as we could – 3:30 PM – and I couldn’t imagine going any earlier just to try to squeeze in time for pictures. A first look and knocking out all group photos before the ceremony was the only logical option.

Well, as you may have gathered from the amount of photos in this post, I ended up so happy that we did a first look. And, now, I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why.

All photos in this post are by our lovely wedding photographer, Lauren Louise Collective.

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding
should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

IT’S A CHANCE TO CATCH A FEW MINUTES ALONE WITH YOUR PARTNER

Your wedding day is BUSY! You’ve got so many people to see and friends to catch up with. You’re going to be pulled in a million different directions. We weren’t too caught up in the traditions of not seeing each other on the wedding day, so we had breakfast together (I mean…we were at a small bed and breakfast, it would have been way too much effort to avoid each other all morning), but, beyond those moments (which, let’s be honest were mostly me stressed out), our first look was our only opportunity to catch up just the two of us!

Okay, okay, there’s the photographer there, too. But, it’s still a time to take in the day without having a bunch of well-intentioned family and friends vying for your attention.

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding
should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

YOU’LL KNOCK OUT YOUR COUPLES PHOTOS EARLY (YOU WON’T MISS COCKTAIL HOUR!)

On the topic of family and friends, you probably want to actually spend time with said family and friends! So, the first look is a great opportunity to knock out all of your couples photos before the wedding. We did our first look, then we switched locations to do a few more-portrait style shots. Then, we came back and did all the family groupings. As the bus of guests pulled up, we were wrapping up the last of the portraits, so we were able to truly enjoy our time together with our loved ones through the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.

Note: We did break away from cocktail hour to do a few golden hour shots, but that was super quick! We felt like we were able to get back to our guests in no time. Also, our first look photos are some of my favorites from the entire day!

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding
should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

IT’S A PRACTICAL TIMING DECISION

If you’re having a winter wedding like we did, and you want pictures in natural daylight, then you really have no choice but to do a first look unless you have a 2 PM or earlier ceremony. There’s just no way around it. I mean, sure, you could try to speed through the pictures in 15 minutes after the ceremony, but who wants to be that stressed out?

We did our first look around 2 PM (it might have been a bit earlier…I’ve joked that my perpetually late self made a promise to be on-time in marriage, and I have actually kept to it starting with the wedding day). Our ketubah ceremony was at 3 PM and our ceremony was at 3:30 PM. I didn’t feel that I had to start getting ready terribly early (though getting ready is a story for another post…) and the timing felt like it flowed perfectly.

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

THE EMOTIONS ARE MORE EXCITED THAN SENTIMENTAL

I realize some of you may be the sentimental, weepy types who want tears flowing as you walk down the aisle. That’s not me. Which is probably why I loved that the energy behind a first look is moreOMG! Look at you! We’re bride and groom! We’re getting married today!”

I found a first look to be a fun, goofy, wonderful part of the day. And, yes, that probably has a lot to do with the personalities of the couple, but I think that, regardless of who you are, there’s more room to be excited and giddy during a first look than there is during a walk down the aisle. There are far less eyes on you and you can just let loose and be yourselves.

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding
should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

YOUR WALK DOWN THE AISLE WON’T LOSE ITS IMPACT

Obviously, since I mentioned in the beginning of this post that I love the idea of the first look across the aisle, I was definitely worried that my walk down the aisle would lose a bit of its luster. Well, to be honest, my walk down the aisle was mostly me trying not to trip over my dress in 4.5″ heels and mud from the previous day’s pouring rain. So, first look or not, I couldn’t keep my eyes up for long enough to have this dramatic walk.

That being said, I don’t think having done a first look changed the impact of our ceremony! It’s still meaningful when you see your future spouse standing there ready to marry you and just because you may have seen them an hour ago, it doesn’t make it any less so.

IS THERE ANYONE WHO SHOULDN’T DO A FIRST LOOK?

Now that I’ve sold you on why we did our first look, is there anyone that shouldn’t do a first look? Sure, if you’ve read all these reasons why I was glad we did one, and you’re still set on having that big moment when you walk down the aisle and see your future husband for the first time, don’t do one! I think there’s absolutely merit in doing it both ways.

This worked out for us, but, had we not had a winter wedding, I probably would have gone without the first look. Then again, as I mentioned earlier, our first look photos are some of my favorites, so I wouldn’t have those had we gone that route. Just remember, regardless of what you do, everything works out like it should on your wedding day.

 

should i do a first look - charlottesville wedding - veritas first look - farmhouse at veritas wedding

6 Comments

    • hmbien
      Author
      February 15, 2019 / 8:16 am

      Yup, it definitely wasn’t what I had always dreamed of, but it worked out perfectly for our day!

  1. asideofchocolateblog
    February 12, 2019 / 11:56 am

    I LOVED our first look for all the reasons above! I was super nervous about all the attention so having that time together was wonderful. All my friends say that as soon as we did the first look, I was a completely different, relaxed bride. Ours was also silly because we were excited! And walking down the aisle didn’t lose any of the “specialness” 🙂 your pictures are gorgeous!!

    • hmbien
      Author
      February 15, 2019 / 8:17 am

      Totally agree! It was like “okay, this is on!” after the first look! There’s no more worrying how the day is going to turn out, you’re just ready to have fun and get married.

  2. February 13, 2019 / 12:28 pm

    Amen! If anyone is on the fence, they should do it! It saves so much time and it’s still special.

    • hmbien
      Author
      February 15, 2019 / 8:15 am

      Yes! Having done it, I would totally tell any bride who’s wavering over the decision to go for it.

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