A “first look” at a wedding is still a relatively new concept. I wanted to take a little time to explain why I think it’s so helpful to create a relaxed, efficient, quality-time-oriented wedding day! For a full post on creating your wedding timeline around good light and the goal of a smoothly-flowing day, check out this post.

What is a first look? A first look is when the almost-married couple sees one another on their wedding day before the ceremony. They’re usually alone together, except for the photographer, who sets up their meeting and quietly photographs these special moments together. Why might this be so valuable to your wedding day timeline?

Light! Especially in the wintertime! Without a first look, if you’ve planned your ceremony to start very close to sunset, you might barely have any time for photos afterwards. Rushing through these photos isn’t fun for anyone, especially when you’re trying to hug, laugh, catch up, and congratulate one another post-ceremony!

A first look helps to calm the nerves before the ceremony, and could be your only alone time all day! Even the closest, most relaxed couples might get nervous leading up to the wedding ceremony. Seeing one another in a private moment helps to calm fears about being in front of a crowd, and reminds couples why they’ve been planning this whole crazy day for months! Once the ceremony is done and everyone’s trying to say hi and congrats, it’s lots of fun, but you may not get a moment alone with your new spouse until the very end of this long day. A first look gives you space to check in and be present with one another.

A first look enables you to spend more time with your guests. Once the first look, group photos, and ceremony are over, you might take a couple more group pictures (often with grandparents or extended family), but other than that you can go enjoy cocktail hour with your guests, instead of keeping them waiting and trying to get all the photos done in that hour.

Even with a first look, you can still get some amazing sunset photos by sneaking out of the reception for another few minutes of quietness, if time allows. Usually my couples have their first look (immediately followed by portraits of the two of them, wedding party photos, and immediate family photos, then the ceremony) a few hours before the sunset. By sneaking them out of the reception while everyone else is dancing, we can get 5-10 minutes more of couple portraits, on top of the 20-30 minutes of portraits we did just after the first look. This creates another window of time for them to have a moment together, and it’s a gorgeous time of day for photos!

All in all, I strongly encourage my couples to choose this path, because it often makes the day easier for everyone. Some couples still prefer to wait to see one another during the ceremony, and I totally respect that! The day can still be relaxed and so fun. But when given the option, I would always choose a first look timeline! Again, click here to read a full post on creating your wedding timeline around good light, and to see a sample timeline and more tips!