I’m a Lake Tahoe based wedding and portrait photographer, and fan of unposed, giddy-in-love, melt-my-lenses-editorial-style moments … oh, and t-shirts and jeans.
(Ashley & Colby, a classic “first look” moment)
A topic that comes up with every wedding is seeing each other before the ceremony.
Many couples are torn between the traditional first glance down the aisle or seeing each other pre-ceremony. Ultimately, it is up to the couple. Regardless of how you plan it, it will be your own special memory and no one should plan it but you. There is no right or wrong way, as it is your day. About 75% of my wedding opt for the ‘first look,’ while 25% keep it traditional.
Given the choice, I absolutely recommend a first look. Here are a few great comments from couples I’ve shot who opted for a first look:
Some couples want to break it up and just shoot their portraits with their wedding party and shoot all the family portraits post-ceremony. That’s a great option, too!
A few extra advantages:
(Ashley & Colby, the second, and equally as enchanting, look down the aisle)
Not to see…
If you choose to wait until the ceremony, I always aim to take all the portrait varieties I can of you both separately (bride with her side, groom with his side). Some couples have chosen to have an hour gap between their ceremony and cocktail hour start time or extending their cocktail hour a half hour just so they can insure they are able to join in most of the cocktail hour. Some couples are content with missing their cocktail hour for portraits. My best advice to get the pictures you are hiring me to get, is to allow ample time for relaxed, creative portraits. I will work with whatever time you give me and coordinate with your other vendors to make sure we’re all on the same page.
I typically allow 20 minutes for family portraits (more if you have a large family or want many combinations), 20 minutes with the whole wedding party and 20 minutes with the bride and groom alone. Figure in a few minute buffer if Uncle Larry is missing or Grandma went to the bar instead of following us for portraits.
Your post ceremony portrait time with your spouse is your only real time alone before the being received by your guests. Maximizing this portrait time is invaluable so that you can have time together and I can make sure I work my magic for you. My goal is go above and beyond your expectations and more time allows for that.
A few extra tips:
Whichever you decide….
The timeline I design for you will reflect your wishes. Sometimes couples see the timeline for both options and that helps them decide easier.
Whichever way you choose, it is your day and the pictures will be emotional and beautiful!
ARE YOU A PAST BRIDE OR GROOM WHO CAN OFFER YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH ONE OPTION OR THE OTHER? I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU (AS WOULD BRIDE’S AND GROOM’S-TO-BE!) IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
When your guest list oozes talent, pulling off a no stress backyard wedding with all the right details is as easy as pizza pie.
Wow! After reading what you wrote…it makes me wonder if we should have seen one another ahead of time. But, then again…as soon as my husband-to-be saw me he started weeping at the sight of me. He’s told me a million times how overwhelmed he was seeing me in my dress and how beautiful he thought I looked. I didn’t and couldn’t cry because HE was!!! I think if we had been alone, I would have lost it totally and started the floodgates opening.The guests at our (2nd) wedding were captivated by the emotions that ran so deep during the whole ceremony. I’m not going to complain to the powers that be that provided us with perfect weather, a perfect site, gorgeous flowers, and a ceremony that intertwined all of what our lives had been through up to that moment. It was perfect! You captured everything Courtney, even his tears, smiles and tons of kisses!!!
I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband and I did a first look and I’m so glad we did. The photos came out amazing and it really did calm our nerves before walking down the aisle. Plus, because the night really does fly by and photos were very important to us, it really helped us maximize our time and get the most out of our photographer and images from the day.
Originally I kept flip flopping about whether to do a first look or not, but what sold me was going through my photographer’s blog and I saw some images of a first look he had recently done with another couple. I literally started crying they were so beautiful and you could totally see how powerful that moment was between them.
So, I would absolutely stick with my decision. Granted, my parents didn’t 100% agree with the first look idea, but at the end of the day, this was our day and they respected our decision. But for any bride and groom making this decision, just remember that it’s your decision and yours alone -people will give their opinions, but just do what you feel is right for you!
“To See” all the way!!! Honestly, Courtney, you could not have said it better! There are so many benefits to taking your portraits before the ceremony, most importantly, it calmed my nerves before we said our vows!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all my wedding photos, wouldn’t have done it any other way!!!
I agree! My husband and I saw each other first. We didn’t do a creative “first look” shot, which I wish we would have done. But we chose to do wedding party photos before the ceremony to get extra coverage. Photos were important to us too. I also agree with the calmed nerves. Seeing him first completely calmed me. I thought, “Okay, we’re doing this.” Then we started. It was a great experience.
I’m definitely a big fan of a first look…being the mess of nerves that I am, I don’t think I would have been able to keep it together for the ceremony without one. Aside from giving us extra time to get some stellar wedding party photos, it was the perfect opportunity to seize a moment of calm and sheer, unadulterated joy before the whirlwind that is a wedding ceremony and reception.
I would absolutely without a doubt SEE! I agree with Courtney on all levels and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Your hair and makeup are fresh. When you first see each other, you don’t have to hold back your emotions as you would at the alter. You can say whatever you want (and you don’t have to wait for a kiss!!) I know it definitely calmed my nerves knowing I would be able to let loose with him before all the craziness. Another BIG thing for me was having most of the family/ wedding party pictures done. I HATE going to a wedding and having to wait an hour after to ceremony while they all get pictures taken. It’s so nice to go straight to your guests and celebrate! I would also recommend (if the timing is right) to sneak away during sunset. Courtney got some AMAZING shots for us at this time and it was also a time for us to take a breather from the reception. We weren’t gone long, which was perfect. You’re in good hands with Courtney! 🙂