February 24, 2022
The most common question I get as a wedding photographer is should you do a first look on your wedding day? While it’s a very personal decision, there are plenty of arguments to be made for and against doing a first look on your wedding day. If you are having a church wedding or an off-site ceremony with a time gap in between for photos you typically will not need a first look. However, if your wedding is all at one location, you don’t have a time gap for photos, or perhaps you are dealing with a late fall or winter daylight issue, you will need to consider doing a first look.
Doing a first look almost always allows an abundance of time for your wedding photos and can make the wedding day timeline easier overall.
While I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl, there is something nice about having options and different locations to choose from. When you do the first look it enables you time to work your way to multiple locations and create quality images at each.
We all know the best food at a wedding is often served at the cocktail hour and we bet you imagine spending that time greeting your friends and family. When you do a first look, you get everything out of the way before the ceremony and it allows you to go to the entire cocktail hour.
I know it probably sounds magical to see your fiance for the first time at the start of the ceremony, and it is. But once the walk down the aisle is over, the ceremony starts and there is no time to talk. So imagine a private first look where it’s just the two of you ( and of course, your photo and video team hiding in a bush somewhere). You get to embrace, say hello, tell each other how amazing you each look, and soak in all of the little details.
A first look hello can last as long as you would like it to and, after years of documenting these, I will argue that they are usually a heck of a lot more intimate.
There are no real arguments I have against doing a first look, but here is how your day will look if you opt not to do a first look.
Simply stated we need time to create images and it’s astonishing how fast 1 hour goes. We need to capture the family portraits, the wedding party all together, and the two of you. Assuming you have a moderately sized family with no extended family group shots and a mid-sized wedding party, figure we need 10 minutes each. Add 5 minutes to each of those to account for missing people and uncooperative family members and we have already used 15 minutes. At this point, we have not done your portraits yet and we will need 15-20 minutes. So when all is said and done you might get to 10 minutes of the cocktail hour.
We will try and select spots that work best to get a majority of the must-have moments done, but there will not be much time to hit all of the possible locations your venue may offer. You really need to subscribe to the less is more mentality when opting not to do a first look.
Things are a lot more chill when a first look happens. Your photo and video team has time to breathe, think, and be creative. But when we have an hour to accomplish everything we turn on autopilot. Personally, I tend to morph into more of a drill sergeant during family photos and wedding party photos. It’s more about getting it done than being creative. Of course, a skilled pro with tons of experience knows what works and should be able to create kick-ass imagery in just a few minutes.
With no first look, you will still need to do a bunch of photos. Pre-ceremony we will attempt to capture photos of each of you with your immediate families, the bride and bridesmaids together, the groom and groomsmen together, and each of you alone. This will alleviate some of the bulk from the post-ceremony shot list.
If there is one thing I am certain about it’s that you should plan your wedding day however you would like. Your vision is ultimately what will make you happy. We will be there to document everything as it unfolds and we are excited to see what you decide! We certainly can not answer the question, should you do a first look on your wedding day, but we hope this post can help you decide.
Special notes for Fall + Winter weddings
When asking should you do a first look on your wedding day please make sure to consider daylight. The sunset is early during the fall and winter and with no first look you may not be able to have photos in daylight.
If you are dreaming of daylight photos and a light and airy look or if you have selected your venue specifically for the grounds we STRONGLY suggest a first look.
Something fun that will allow you to get some cool photos BEFORE the ceremony without doing a first look is a first touch. First touch is when we set you up next to one another without seeing one another. We will sometimes use a wall, a tree, or anything that will work. You can hold hands, talk, ready cards, whatever you want. We love these because they are typically extremely emotionally charged and make for amazing photo ops.
I’ve painted a picture above about how fast things go when you don’t do a first look. If not doing one is important to you, make sure this is something you discuss with your photography team prior to booking. Not every artist works well under pressure and you will want to ask these questions BEFORE booking.
Off BEET Productions is a boutique wedding event group located in the NJ/NY area and serving destination weddings worldwide. We specialize in natural, candid lifestyle photography; fun and playful music videos; unique wedding DJ entertainment; and a stylish, open air photo booth.