As a wedding photographer on Martha’s Vineyard, one of the most common questions I get from couples is “should we have a first look?” Like any important decision you make about your wedding, it’s a personal one and a choice that you and your partner should make together, and agree on. After all, you can only take a first look once.
If you’ve always imagined laying eyes on each other at the altar and that’s a vision you share, then that’s what you should do. But, if you’re open to the “big reveal” in a less conventional setting–but one that is still special and romantic–than a first look might be for you. Not to mention it’s an incredibly picturesque opportunity. You’ll both be looking your best, and floating on cloud nine in eager anticipation. No matter where and when it happens it will be one of the most memorable moments of your life.
Personally, we’re big fans of the first look. Practically speaking it allows you to have more time to enjoy your cocktail hour and mingle with guests post-ceremony. But most importantly it offers the two of you some intimate time together before the knot is tied, to quietly feel those feels and take a deep breath without all of your guests surrounding you.
Obviously, a wedding is an emotional experience, and a first look means your photographer can capture that honesty. Quite frankly, first look photos are some of our favorites. They capture the genuine love, and surprise, and delight of our client’s most sentimental moments.
Now, if it’s important to have your squad nearby then you can let them in on the first look too. We’ve had many couples share the first look while their parents and bridal party looked on from afar, or showed up several minutes afterward to share a sneak peek of the happy couple. It’s a great segue to taking your family and bridal party portraits beforehand too, meaning more time after the ceremony to devote to celebrating. Again, it’s your day and your decision, and we’d love to help customize a first look that works best for you.
Let’s not forget that having a first look is a great way to help ease you into the emotion of the day. You’re about to promise forever to the love of your life and it can be overwhelming. If you opt for a first look you’re less likely to cry walking down the aisle, avoiding a makeup malfunction (which we all know too well). Then, once you approach the altar you’ll feel more comfortable in front of your guests and can focus on the task at hand–making it official!
But like anything, timing is everything and it must be coordinated appropriately if a first look is for you. If there isn’t time in your timeline to make it happen, don’t force it. A first look should help you ease some of the stress and anxiety of the day, not create it! We recommend that a first look happens at least an hour or more before the ceremony so you can be safely tucked away before your early guests arrive. That also means you’ll need to be ready earlier too, so consider your time wisely.
So there it is, for your thoughtful consideration. Whether you opt for a first look or stick to the more traditional route, the right answer is the one that just feels right to you!