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Should You Do a First Look?

Things to Consider

At this point, more than a few of the wedding planning sites you are on may be telling you to do a first look. They give a run-down of what it is and of all of the good that comes from doing one. Some of those sites may even say that your photographer will tell you to do one. Seriously, though, who am I to say "you must have a first look"? I would be a complete hypocrite if I demanded that; Shawn and I didn't do a first look, and even if we had the chance to go back and have one, we wouldn't. One of the things we both wanted from our day was for the first moment we see each other to be when I was walking down the aisle to him. We instead did an alternative to a first look where we held hands and said a prayer while separated by a door frame. I'm so glad that we did it this way because it was a moment I would never take back for anything. It was special and real and -- yes -- there were tears <3.

We knew in our case a first look wouldn't work. Shawn and I talked about it, we made our photographer aware of our alternate idea, and we planned our timeline accordingly. I had where we would be during that last hour of light for sunset all mapped out. I think the most important thing, if you decide a first look isn't what you want, is to have a solid timeline and be sure that you give your photographer at least an hour, post-ceremony, of sunlight. There is a wonderful website that I use to check out what time the sun will be rising and setting, you can find that here. I can tell you confidently that the best time to have your portraits done is an hour before sunset. You'll have gorgeous golden light that will transform every venue into a glowing wonderland (it's called the golden hour for a reason :P).

Of course you may have fallen in love with the idea of a first look and that is amazing! The huge benefit to doing one is being able to be with each other and have a moment together before the ceremony. That time between you both is special and sweet. When you are planning on doing a first look, the Number One thing to do is to tell your photographer with plenty of notice. In the beginning stages of my business, I thought it was okay for the couple to decide the day of the wedding if they wanted to see each other before the ceremony. However, with experience, I realize it is imperative that I know your plans well in advance. When a first look is a sure thing, I'm scouting the location thinking of how much time it will take and visualizing the best way for it to all happen. I actually sketch out how I see the photos going down. Your first look is so important to Shawn and me, we both want it to be incredible. A key thing you want to be sure of is that you give an hour and half before the ceremony to do that first look. In that hour and a half, you will have your moment together, get most of your group shots completed, and have your portraits done. Guests will start arriving around 30 minutes before ceremony time, so getting you guys together and hidden in a calm and timely manner is very important.

Whether a first look is for you or not is all up to you two, and how you want your day to go. I've included some photos of the different emotions that every choice can hold. The key points for the day are: communicate with your photographer, a timeline is essential, and you can't keep the sun from setting (I know, I tried, haha). If all of those things are kept in mind, your wedding day is going to be on a totally different level!

 

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Occasionally during a first look, the spectators experience a variety of emotions :P

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One of my favorite "first looks" from Terry and Hannah's wedding; Terry was instructed to remain turned around until Hannah and her dad got to the start of the aisle.

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 Last but not least, Shawn in full cry mode (thank you so incredibly much for capturing this moment, Marlayna) <3

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