Hellllooooo!!! My name is Becca and I'm a wedding and elopement photographer based in the heart of beautiful wine country in Napa, California! I've done tons of different types of weddings all over and the first look is something a lot of people seem to have a hard time making a decision about. So I'm here to help you out! I'm going to give some advice as to why or why you shouldn't do a first look! Then I'll also throw in some recommendations for if you decide not to do a first look but still want to do something special before the ceremony :)
What's a first look?
Not everyone knows what a first look is so let me drop some knowledge on ya before I dive in. A first look is where you plan on seeing each other before the ceremony. Typically your wedding photographer will seek out a location for the first look and set you guys up and guide you - we know you guys have those pre-ceremony jitters, so we'll do all the thinking for ya ;)
Fun fact: the tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other prior to the wedding ceremony emerged when arranged marriages were super common. They did this so neither party would run away before the wedding...yikes.
One of the most obvious reasons to not have a first look is because you want to wait to see the reaction of your partner. This is such a special moment and one of my favorites to capture.
On the other hand, one of the biggest reasons couples will decide to do a first look is because they don't want such a special moment to be in front of everyone they know - it can be a little nerve wracking. Wedding days are very fast paced and time flies when you're having fun so this the perfect time to slow down and have a private moment before going into the ceremony and partying with all of your friends and family.
There are of course many couples who aren't hesitant at all and know for sure whether they want to do a first look or whether they want to first see each other when they're walking down the aisle. If a couple is on the fence, my biggest piece of advice is to think about the timeline. Let's get into it.
If you decide not to do a first look, keep in mind that you will need to do all of your family and wedding party photos during cocktail hour. Make sure to communicate with your wedding photographer to ensure you allocate enough time to get photos with everyone you want group photos with.
If you do decide to do a first look, you can knock out wedding party photos and some family photos prior to the ceremony! This will make time for you to either join your cocktail hour and mingle if you'd like, give you more time to hide away and soak in the excitement of your wedding day OR (my personal favorite) allow more time for photos of just the two of you. Regardless of what you choose, if I'm your wedding photographer, I'll help guide you with those timeline decisions, so click here to inquire and we'll have the best day ever!
Holding Hands Around a Door or Wall
If you don't want to see each other but you want to have a special, intimate moment prior to the ceremony, I love finding a spot for my couples to hold hands and talk to each other around a door or a wall. This is personally one of my favorite options because getting to watch a couple get to talk to each other before the ceremony is such a special moment to get to be a part of. It's often emotional and gets both of them even more excited to do the dang thing.
Another popular option is to exchange gifts or write letters to each other before the big day and have a bridesmaid and groomsmen deliver them before the ceremony. It's a cute way to let the other know how freaking stoked you are to marry them and gets each other even more excited to walk down that aisle.
Don't stress about it though, it'll be special no matter what :)