What is a first look? I would describe it as an intimate moment between the bride and groom ( and usually the photographer or videographer) prior to the wedding ceremony. There are many pros and cons and I wanted to write this so couples can weigh out their options before making a decision either way.
Pro # 1: Unless you have an extremely long cocktail hour and an abundance of natural light you will have to do ALL of your portraits after the ceremony since you will not see each other until you walk down the aisle. Most ceremonies are around sunset therefore leaving you with little natural light after the ceremony is over. By the time you get all of the guests to cocktail hour and get those family formal photos in that leaves very little time to get photos with the bridal party as well as couple portraits. From my experience, even very experienced photographers like to have at least 30 min for bridal party portraits (more if you have a large bunch) and 30 min for bride and groom portraits.
Pro # 2: You will have more time with your guests. Couples that opt for a first look are able to join their guests for cocktail hour and spend that much more time with their guests. I usually set aside at least 15-20 minutes for the bride and groom to have a “moment” together alone. I will usually bring the couple a few cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to enjoy alone and soak in the ceremony and excitement that just happened. We will also do a room reveal of the reception during this time as well. The wedding day will fly by and this extra hour with your guests will allow you to spend more time with them.
Pro # 3: If you are a nervous bride or groom a first look is a great way to calm any pre-ceremony jitters. I find that when a bride or groom is overly nervous the second they do a first look and see their person they are immediately more calm and relaxed. There is a lot of build up leading up to the ceremony itself and I believe you are able to take in the ceremony more when your nerves are at ease and you do not have to worry about the “big moment” when the bride walks down the aisle and the groom sees her for the first time.
Con #1 : You will have to get ready earlier. A first look means you will have to get up earlier and begin hair and makeup at least a few hours earlier. A lot of brides are concerned that their hair and makeup will not last that long but if you hire a professional hair and makeup team this should not be an issue. You can even ask them to hang around to touch you up right before the ceremony.
Con # 2: You will lose that special moment of the bride walking down the aisle and the groom seeing her for the first time. This is an old tradition that it is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding ceremony. This moment can add to the emotion of the ceremony and a lot of time there are tears of happiness. On the other hand, if you decide to do a first look this moment and all of the emotions that come with seeing each other for the first time is private.
Ultimately the decision on whether or not to do a first look is a personal one and up to the couple. Talk to your wedding planner and photographer to weigh out your options while keeping the timeline and logistics of the wedding day in mind!