If you do not already know, a first look is when the couple sees each other for the first time prior to the ceremony.

The main thing to consider when deciding on a first look is SUNSET. Why? Photos are all about lighting.

Typically, when weddings are in Nov – Feb, sun sets around 5pm which is typically around the time of a ceremony. So if the sun sets at 5 and the ceremony is around 5pm, then it is too late to get photos done after the ceremony since the light is gone. This is where the first look comes in handy so you can get all your photos done PRIOR to the ceremony. I will say from experience, the weddings that do have a first look get WAY more of a variety of couple portraits compared to weddings without a first look.

During the months of March – October, the sun usually sets later in the evening like around 7 or 8pm. Therefore, a first look is not as crucial because the light will still be out after the ceremony, giving you enough time for family portraits, wedding party photos and couple portraits prior to the reception. Now, if you decide to still do a first look even though there is a later sunset, you will get even more couples portraits and it will also give you a chance to capture sunset photos!!!

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Now let me walk you through the pros and cons of a first look.

Let’s start with the Pros:

  • First, nerves.
    • Seeing the love of your life before the ceremony will calm any nerves and anxiety. It will also give you the chance to catch your breath and be more present before the rest of the day goes by so fast.
  • Second, more variety.
    • Like I mentioned, first looks give you the chance to get all your photos down prior to the ceremony. You will have more time giving you more variety of images – including wedding party photos and couple portraits.
  • Third, saves time.
    • Since all your photos are done before the ceremony, you will be able to enjoy and participate in cocktail hour. Because when is the next time all your family and friends will be under the same roof? Enjoy it while you can!!

Lastly, first looks guarantee you that both emotions and reactions are captured.

Now, let’s move on to the cons. I could only think of two, but one is sort of a big one for some couples!

  • First, you will most likely have to be ready earlier – which sometimes isn’t a bad thing since let’s face it – you will be way too excited to sleep! 
  • Second, and most important, you will have to sacrifice that traditional moment of seeing your partner for the first time down the aisle.

Now you might be thinking, “how can I get all these pros without the cons?” The answer is COMPROMISE.

Have a first look, but have it at your ceremony spot before any guests arrive! This way you are able to have that intimate moment and get through all photos without sacrificing tradition!!! 

Have questions?! I am here to help! . . . Charlotte Wedding Photographer, Stephanie Bailey Photography

How to Decide if You Need to do a First Look