Today begins a three-part series on planning a photography-minded wedding day. The timeline can be an area of stress for some brides so in hopes to alleviate that I want to share helpful tips on how to make a wedding day go as smoothly as possible from a wedding photographer’s perspective. Before we dive in, I want to make the same disclaimer that I make to each of my brides as we discuss timeline: This day is yours. When it comes down to it, your photographer’s (or any other wedding vendor) job is to educate you based on their expertise and experience, help you see different options for how your day can play out and then leave it up to the bride and groom to make the final decisions. With that being said, let’s get to it! In part one we are going to chat through my most commonly asked timeline question—to do a first look or to not do a first look?!
For those who have never heard of a “first look”, it is simply a time for the bride and groom to see each other before the bride walks down the aisle during the ceremony.
I’ll just get right to it and say that I am a huge supporter of doing a first look. There are a number of reasons for this. Yes, of course it makes for some really sweet intimate pictures, but even more than that it can actually affect a number of aspects of a wedding day that you potentially haven’t considered…
1. Pre-ceremony timeline
Doing a first look allows for more time during a wedding day to be spent getting portraits done from bride and groom portraits, to bridal party photos, to formal family photos before the ceremony. If photos are high on a couple’s priority list this is a great way to ensure that we are making the most of our time together and getting in as many photos as possible throughout the day.
2. Natural light
First looks ensure a couple that natural light will not be an issue for pictures. Many couples choose to have evening ceremonies but if the ceremony ends around sunset and they decided not to do a first look, this limits the amount of time to spend on portraits of the entire bridal party, family photos, and most importantly bride and groom portraits. When a couple chooses to do a first look, most times (in my experience) means less time dedicated to pictures after the ceremony and more relaxing and enjoying time with all of your family in friends there to celebrate you. Because let’s be honest, after the ceremony, you are going to want to dedicate as much time as possible to celebrating with all of your favorite people.
3. Time together
This one is simple: first look= more time together! This is the start of your forever together! The day truly flies by so I’m a huge supporter of any chance you get to intentionally slow down and really take the day in. Having a moment between the two of you alone before the ceremony is so special, intimate, and memorable. It’s also a great way to create space to be able to take in the fact that you’re about to get married! These first few minutes together allow for the couple to get any jitters out of the way before the ceremony-to see each other, cry over how amazing you both look, give each other a good hug, and start the day out together.
*The biggest pushback I hear about first looks is worrying that the groom won’t have as good of a reaction during the ceremony if he sees his bride beforehand. But to be honest that’s just not true in my experience! Seeing each other and celebrating the moment before the day starts is a different feeling than a groom seeing his bride walking into your forever together as she walks down the aisle. Even with a first look, the groom’s reaction has always been just as priceless during the ceremony*
The other first look to consider
Aside from the typical bride-groom first look, I always ask my brides if they want to carve out time to do a first look with whoever is giving them away (dad, mom, etc.). It’s such a special moment to have a time of reflection and to be able to hug and love on your parents (or other special person walking you down the aisle) before they give you away to your soon-to-be husband. On a personal note, I made sure I had 15 minutes to spare on my wedding day between getting my dress on and my first look with Collier to see my parents and it is one of the best decisions I made for the day. I got to hug them, laugh and cry with them in excitement and pure gratefulness for all they've been and done for me through life and for what we were about to celebrate as a family.
Again, these are JUST suggestions. Like I said at the beginning of this post, brides, this is YOUR day! Make it exactly what you want and have dreamed your day to be. Next week we'll be talking through details and getting ready pictures.
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