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Is a first look photo right for your wedding?

first look, weddings, wedding photography, wedding first looks, non-traditional weddings, northern california wedding photographers, california wedding photography One of the best things about modern weddings in my opinion is that it is no longer necessary to stick with completely traditional and old ways of thinking and doing things. It is not only okay, but almost expected, to step outside the box when planning your wedding. A common thing to see these days are weddings that mix both old traditions with new ones. One of my favorite new things that I'm seeing more and more are "first looks" between the bride and groom. 

A first look is when the bride and groom buck the superstition that it's bad luck to see each other before the wedding and set aside some time before the ceremony to have a private moment together. There are many benefits to doing it this way and I've found with modern weddings it works very well for a few reasons:

  • Many times the bride and groom are nervous before the ceremony - seeing each other and having some time together helps to calm those nerves. Who better to help you relax than your best friend?
  • It cuts way back on the time after the ceremony needed for picture taking - traditionally, immediately following the wedding ceremony the bride and groom and bridal party are whisked away by the photographer for their portraits, leaving the guests to mingle, munch, and drink sometimes for an hour or more. This can add to the food and beverage expenses, as well to the level of intoxication before dinner sometimes! It is also the time that is most exciting to the bride and groom and guests as the happy couple is just now OFFICIALLY married. Almost all of my couples that have done a first look have also done their wedding photos all before the ceremony, leaving the rest of the time for celebrating and visiting.
  • Better quality photos - This is a selfish point on the photographers part. It is simply easier for us to get fantastic photos before the guests arrive, when we are not as pressed for time and when Aunt Barbara is not sticking her cell phone over our shoulder trying to get pictures for herself. After the ceremony there are always a handful of people that rush in to hug, chat, congratulate and take their own pictures. This never fails to leave the bride flustered and result in photos with members of the bridal party all looking different directions.
  • The photos can be fun! I have had couples go about their first look many different ways - holding hands around a tree, sneaking around a corner or with the bridal party involved. It is a really fun way to get different photos that are unique to your wedding.
  • Depending on the time of day, it can allow the best lighting to be used for the most important photos - now let me preface this by saying that all of us wedding photographers wish that you would consult with us when planning your wedding timeline. The look that you get in your photos relies heavily on the time of day and location of the photos. I find it works very well to get all of the basic photos out of the way early so that when the sun is just starting to go down I can steal the bride and groom for a few breathtaking golden hour pictures. This all depends of course on the time of day of your ceremony and reception.


With everything there are of course downsides, one being that it goes against tradition and another being that the time frame sometimes does not allow for a first look, especially for weddings early in the day. Each situation is different and that's what I love about modern weddings - instead of trying to force the pieces to go into place, you can look at your individual set of circumstances and do what works best for you.

Did you have a first look for your wedding? If so are you glad you did? Do you have any other benefits you can add to the list?

Thanks for reading and cheers to the coming 2014 wedding season!

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