Should you do a first look?

My answer? Without a doubt is… Maybe.

Don’t get me wrong, if you meet with me to discuss your wedding I will almost always suggest a first look. In my experience, your raw emotions are captured, your day flows better, you enjoy the photo taking process, and dare I say, you can enjoy your cocktail hour ::: GASP::: That said, every wedding is different. Here are some guidelines to help you make the best choice for your day.

If your ceremony is later in the day

If you have an ample amount of time (an hour and a half to two hours) between your ceremony and cocktail hour you don’t need to do a first look. Use that end-of-day light for all it’s worth. If you do not have enough time, then definitely do one. Light is a beautiful thing, make use of it! I try to utilize it as much as I possibly can. I have to be honest though, a little part of me dies inside when I see the beauty from the sun go unused, and I’m forced to use the dreary orange tungsten lighting of the venue. If there is a late ceremony where the light has already dissipated, you will most likely be relegated to the foyer, hallway of the venue and maybe a few shots outside at night. Is that to say that great images can’t be made in those conditions? Of course not!

Below is a perfect example. Their ceremony was later  in the day, on site.  In fact it started to get dark during the vows so if we didn ‘t done the pictures ahead of time – there wouldn’t have been enough light, nor an epic location like this!

Florida Wedding Photographer, Destination Weddings in Florida, Florida Weddings

If your venue is far from your ceremony location

Do a first look. Sometimes there is the illusion that there is “enough time.” Your ceremony is at 3, cocktail hour isn’t till 6, that gives you 3 hours right? In theory, yes. But then if your ceremony is 45 minutes long, and you have a receiving line, family pictures after, and then it’s another 45 mins to get to the venue – well, your 3 hours has decreased significantly. You also have to plan for traffic delays, wardrobe malfunctions, or someone who isn’t where they’re supposed to be. I usually like to add what I call, “insurance time” to prepare for situations like that.

first look, spring lake, spring lake new jersey

If your ceremony is on site 

Do a first look. If your ceremony is on site, the venue won’t hold your reception just so you can get your pictures done. Often, immediately after the ceremony, guests get led into the room for cocktail hour, and that is when you take pictures. Now, that may not be an issue if you don’t care about missing it. But in my experience, most couples want to hang with their bridal party during that time, relax, have a nibble of some food. The last thing I ever want my couples to feel is rushed – like the pictures “have to get done.” At that point, they aren’t enjoying the photography and if there’s any stress from the day, I don’t want it to be from me. Doing a first look alleviates that.

first look reaction, first looks

The biggest reason why I am an advocate for a first look

Is that people are more themselves when it’s just the two of them. I have seen some truly authentic and moving reactions from a groom seeing his bride-to-be for the first time in an intimate setting. It’s easier for the intimacy to come out – plain and simple. After the initial reaction it’s the perfect segue into the formal portraits. From there, we go into bridal party, then family photos (I usually utilize an hour and a half to two hours for the formals/bridal party/and family). Before you know it, a large portion of your photos are done for the day, and now you can enjoy the entire cocktail hour. It also allows more time for photos with people who ran late getting to the wedding since everything else was taken beforehand.

At our initial meeting, we’ll go over the timing of your day and find out what will work best. This way we can focus on making something truly epic without having to watch the clock!