Tradition vs Logistics
In the development of a wedding day timeline the big question that comes up with every couple is wether or not there will be a first look. The main reason couples opt out of a first look is the tradition that says it is bad luck for them to see each other before the ceremony. After doing some research into why it is said to be bad luck (just settling with “its bad luck” wasn’t going to do it for me!) I got to the bottom of it and it might surprise you where it came from! Remember back in the day…well really really back in the day when arranged marriages were commonplace? No, well me neither but history tells me it was so I am going with it! The couple would have never met until they were up at the alter. Since marriages back then were done more as a business deal to acquire land and herds the brides family would seek out a wealthy man for their daughter (doesn’t that make your heart swoon for the olden days!?) to increase their wealth. The goal was to keep them from meeting each other until they were pretty much already married so the groom would have no chance to back out if he found his betrothed to be lets just say not his style. So that is where this whole tradition of bad luck came from…huh…learn something new every day!
In todays weddings we are typically working with couples who have seen each other, know what they look like and probably know how they like their eggs cooked! This would mean that the likelihood of one of the two backing out on the wedding day purely because they saw each other before they said “I do” has gone down significantly!
One more thing before we get deep into the logistics on a first look… On a wedding day – the day that has been being planned for in most cases over a year and a half in advance – the couple has a day that is chalk full of time with everyone else and very little time with just them.
This is also a day that though one of the most exciting days for them can also come with a tremendous amount of nerves – if you are in a relationship think about the person you go to for comfort/support/encouragement…are you thinking of that person you are in the relationship with, awesome – you are on the right track!
So what does that have to do with the price of bread (whoops, slipping back to an old time saying!)? If you are embarking on a nerve filled day who better to help calm your nerves than your rock, your partner, the one you are choosing to spend the rest of your life with – enter the first look! This is not only an amazing time to take pictures of just you two but such a special time for you to enjoy each other and relax before the day takes off.
Now here come the logistics! At a typical wedding there may be a handful of group pictures with the respective bridal parties and families but the bulk of those pictures are taken immediately after the ceremony (ever wonder why there is a cocktail hour – now you know!) in the hour that your guests are mingling, getting a refreshment of sorts and maybe even playing some lawn games under the oak trees. The photographer is going to try and knock out the group shots as quick as possible so they can focus on the couple but without fail your Aunt Sally that is in half of the pictures has wondered off to grab a snack and gets lost talking to a long lost cousin while a cousin that was in other pictures runs off to try and catch a squirrel that ran up a tree! So what should be a quick photo session turns into a herd of cat wrangling event with very little time to focus on the couple. With a first look the photographer will get to capture a very intimate moment with the couple with no one else around.
There are literally thousands of great ideas on how to set up a first look on Pinterest and hundreds of amazing locations at Up the Creek Farms to do them! Once the emotion of seeing each other settles down your photographer will be able to take you around the 8 acres of Up the Creek for some beautiful photos that you might not have time for in that hour after the ceremony. You will both be fresh in the day and have just come out from having your hair and makeup done and there will be no wrinkles on your suit yet from the rather large hug from Aunt Sally (she is something else isn’t she!) – what a great time to get the photos that will line your mantle and walls for many years to come!
We would never not support a couples decision to forgo a first look but if you are on the fence here is some more things to consider from some of our favorite photographers!
Personally, I LOVE first looks. I’m thrilled when a couple tells me that YES they would love to do a first look (I might even do a little happy dance). I choose to have one with my husband and don’t regret it for a second! First looks, when orchestrated properly, can be super romantic and moving. Trust your photographer and event planner. They will work with you to set up a time and space to create an intimate moment with your almost husband. I always shoot first looks with a long lens from far away so as not to interfere with this precious moment. This time gives the couple a moment to actually breath, embrace, whisper to each and really soak in the importance of what is about to happen. It is a moment filled with utter raw emotion (which makes for amazing photographs!).
As a photographer my goal is to provide my clients with a portfolio rich with diversity, however, this requires time. As most know, time, on your wedding day is very carefully accounted for. Of course all brides want and deserve amazing photographs but we are often limited (by that dreaded word) time. Yes, of course, we can create amazing images given only 30 minutes but think what we could do if we had even more time!
First looks give us (photographers) an opportunity to move directly into a portrait session with the bride and groom. These images are usually super fun and romantic because emotions are high and the “timeline” pressure is lifted. We are free to explore your venue in ways that we could not have before (yes..more than likely due to the timeline) and we have the time to get really creative with the photographs. Sometimes (when we are really lucky) this timeframe allows us to take all of the family formal photographs prior to the wedding. You know what that means? That’s right- an earlier arrival to the cocktail hour and reception! Whoop whoop!
I know that the moment of walking down the isle and seeing the expression of your fiancé is one experience that most girls dream about. It is a once in a lifetime kind of moment. However, I would argue that having a private moment prior to your ceremony could be just as special, just as thrilling, just as meaningful and just as romantic. And as an added bonus… more photographic memories for the couple to cherish! –Liz Cowie @lizcowiephotography.com
There are many pros to having a first look! Brides and grooms that opt for a first look overall will have better more creative photos then those who don’t given the fact that we have more time before the ceremony for photos and are able to work at a much slower rate. First looks allow the couple to enjoy their wedding by getting the majority of the photos completed before the ceremony. The bride’s hair and make up always looks more fresh and crisp.
Couples have said how much more smoothly the day runs because after the ceremony other than maybe a few family pictures that need to take place they are able to go off and really enjoy their guests during the cocktail hour rather than trying to rush through photos. Brides and grooms have commented how nice it is to be able to have time alone without anybody watching to complete photos.
This of course lends more opportunities for photographers to get inside of the reception room and get all of the reception décor and overall room shots without guests being present. When brides and grooms have a lot of out of town guests it gives them so much more time to actually be able to visit rather than having to do photos. It also allows us to utilize the entire venue including the boat House doors which can’t be done when the cocktail hour is taking place in that area. – Lisa Marshall @lisamarshallphotography.com
First, either way you do it (first look or no) it is a beautiful moment. Here are just a few of the reasons I love first looks.
With all the hustle and bustle of the day you rarely get a moment to sit back and just chat for a few minutes and tell each other how stunningly beautiful or truly handsome each looks. Having that private moment before the ceremony gives you the opportunity to do this. Enjoy some quiet time before the crazy love filled festivities begin. This also allows for plenty of time for portraits after your private moment. Which brings me to reason #2.
Enough time for bride and groom portraits. Typically after ceremony once the guest have cleared you come back out with your family for portraits with them. Depending on how big your family is this can take anywhere from 10-30mins. If everyone is where they are supposed to be then 10-15mins max. If they are not we usually spend extra time locating them. After family we have to get some fun photos of the bridal party. After all, everyone is dressed up we should snap a few images. 🙂 Once that is over then we will begin bride and groom portraits. That leaves us with about 15-20mins. We have to make sure we have you back in time to bustle your dress cool off (we live in FL you have to cool off year round) then make your grand entrance. You don’t want to keep your guest waiting so keeping to 1 hour of cocktail hour is important. If photography is top of your list. You definitely want to make sure you have plenty of time for this. If extending cocktail hour isn’t an option then I highly recommend a first looks. PS if anything falls behind on the schedule I find almost every time bride and groom time is sacrificed. 🙁 Also if you are having a winter wedding one other thing to consider is that it is pitch black by 5:30 so getting in all of the photos can really be a time crunch.
Nerves. I have had some couple who were so nervous they chose to have a first look. Each have said it was the greatest decision they have made. They were calm. Enjoyed their quiet time together and loved that they didn’t feel rushed after ceremony. They were able to calmly take family photos, bridal party photos or then take advantage of enjoying the ending of cocktail hour with their guest. Yes, another bonus. Attending your cocktail hour. 🙂 This is the grooms favorite part. Plus they pay all that money and don’t get to attend it. Or they chose to go back for more portraits or if at sunset we get some beautiful photos.
Plenty of time for portraits. With a first look we allot 1hr-45mins. That way we have plenty of time to grab some amazing portraits of your reaction and some stunning romantic photos of the two of you in a relax calm environment. – Bumby Grimm @ Bumbyphotography.com
Still not sure that a First Look is your thing? Jessica (the amazing and fantastic owner of Up the Creek Farms) has a few alternatives:
I always suggest the alternative to either writing a note to one another on the wedding day, to each to read before the ceremony,
a “hand to hand” (also known as a “first touch”…until someone can come up with a better name!), so they can hear each other and maybe hold hands for a pre ceremony photo op,or a traditional option is for the bride and father to have a reveal.
One last first look idea – surprise the bridesmaids with a big reveal!