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I'm Amanda and I am a Raleigh wedding photographer!  I serve excited and enthusiastic couples with an elegant and elevated wedding photography experience! This is where I share sneak peeks from my latest weddings, engagements, and sessions! Check out my Raleigh wedding photography blog to view my latest weddings, engagements, styled shoots, tips, venues, and more!

Top 5 Reasons to do a First Look

When it comes to your wedding day there is one thing that I seem to hear from my couples over and over. That trend is the wish for more TIME. The day you have been anticipating for months or even years is only 24 hours long! One minute you’re getting your hair and makeup done and then next you’re flying through your sparkler exit! You want to make the most out of your day. You are intentional, you are present, and you are SO looking forward to spending the most beautiful day with your partner. So – how do you make more time for that on your wedding day? Two words: FIRST LOOK. I’ve got the top 5 reasons to do a first look on your wedding day because I want you to have the BEST wedding photography experience on your big day!

Deciding on a first look for your wedding is a critical step in building your ideal wedding photography timeline! (If you’re looking for timeline assistance – be sure to check out my post on building the ideal wedding photography timeline!) At Amanda Graves Photography, approximately 70 percent of couples choose to do a first look for their wedding day!

Couple preparing to share their first look on wedding day

The decision to do a first look is ultimately between you and your significant other. Personally, I wanted my soon-to-be-husband to see me for the first time as I came down the aisle. I usually err on the side of tradition and nostalgia so it made sense that we didn’t opt for a first look. I will also say – there was no compelling argument in favor of a first look from anyone – even my photographer! If I had known then what I know now about wedding photography I would have seriously reconsidered.

I have put that compelling argument for why you SHOULD do a first look for your wedding because you may also not have that compelling voice helping you out! First, let’s go ahead and debunk what it is and who even participates in a first look!

What is a First Look?

The First Look is the moment that your partner sees you for the first time on your wedding day. It is a separate event from the ceremony and occurs beforehand. Instead of the person at the end of the aisle seeing the other for the first time as they are escorted down the aisle – a couple can decide to do a big reveal intimately with one another before the ceremony. These moments are emotionally heavy and it can be overwhelming to see each other for the first time on your wedding day, especially in front of a crowd! The First Look allows couples to see each other for the first time all dolled up in a more intimate and private setting.

Who participates in a First Look?

Typically, the participants of a First Look is you and your partner and your photographer! These moments can be as private or as public as you like. When I meet with my couples to talk timelines and logistics, I explicitly ask how private they want their first look to be should they choose to do one. Some couples don’t mind having family or the wedding party lingering about to share the special moment. Most couples like to seize the sliver of alone time that the first look affords them. I give my couples as much time as they need or want for their moment and casually observe unobtrusively with my camera!

Couple sharing a first look on their wedding day.

Are there any alternatives to a first look?

Of course! I have seen quite a few variations that have a first look without the LOOK. Sounds silly but you can have time together without peeking! A popular alternative to a first look is a first touch. Couples usually position themselves back-to-back or around a corner and share a first touch which is usually hand-holding. From here, couples read letters to one another, whisper excitedly to each other, and do a little bit of nerve-calming before the big reveal at the ceremony. While you don’t have the same benefits as a first look, alternatives can still be special highlights of your day!

first look first touch nc wedding venue

Top 5 Reasons to do a First Look on your Wedding Day

1. First Look = Time Together on your wedding day

This is the most important reason I have for advocating for a First Look on your wedding day. There are very few opportunities on your wedding day to steal away with your partner! Of course that is how you want it because you invited all of these people to celebrate! I want to reiterate though that even though you invited them, the whole day is about YOU and your partner and your LOVE! So if you are given the opportunity to take any moment, any minute, any chunk of time away together you should take it! Build it into the timeline I promise you won’t regret it!

2. Wedding First Look = More Portraits AND More Variety

Couples who choose to do a first look on their wedding day receive approximately 40% more portraits than couples who do not. That is a LOT more photos! In addition to more photos you also receive more of a variety of portraits. Your post ceremony portraits will likely take place at a different hour, in a different location, and with different light. This means you will have a great amount of variety for your gallery and album than you would if you only had one photo opportunity post-ceremony.

3. Shorter Photography Coverage

Different weddings require different amounts of photography coverage. If you are planning a more intimate wedding you may have a shorter length of coverage with your photographer. That is great! Quality over quantity but that means you have to use the time wisely. Wedding days with less coverage benefit greatly from having a first look in the timeline. You can maximize your portraits if you add in a first look. Since you won’t have to have an excessive amount of post-ceremony time for portraits you can also maximize any reception time you want captured on the back end of the day!

4. Shorter Days

The season and the time the sun sets can have a huge impact on your wedding photography timeline. Opting out of a first look on your wedding day when you have a 4:00pm ceremony in December can be a logistical nightmare if you are pining over light, bright, natural-lit photos. I strongly advocate for a first look in these scenarios!

5. More time to CELEBRATE!

One thing I hear from couples often is that they want to be PRESENT with their guests at cocktail hour and the reception! I get it – you paid a lot of money for food, drinks, and hosting all these people you don’t want to spend your whole cocktail hour in a field while your guests entertain themselves. If you can do a first look before the ceremony you can also add in all of your bridal party portraits. You can even knock out some family formals before the ceremony with the right timeline planning! The more photos you can get done before the ceremony the more time you will have allotted to enjoy the time with your guests!

Timeless and elegant couple sharing a first look on their wedding day

It’s YOUR Day!

Choosing to do a first look does not diminish the significance of you walking down the aisle. It doesn’t take away the emotional impact of the promise you are about to make to your partner. A first look enhances your wedding day and gives you the opportunity to be present with your partner in a way you make not otherwise have the chance for on your wedding day. Ultimately, it’s YOUR day! You decide what you and your partner are the most comfortable with – first look or no first look! So many people are breaking all sorts of traditions and having such beautiful, positive experiences! I want that for you no matter what you choose because it will be beautiful because you chose it!

Clients Ask: If you could do your wedding over, would you do a First Look?

Honestly – I would! I think I would have to convince my husband because he is more traditional and set in his ways than I am. If I could add more photos to my wedding day I would want the ones of his reaction because I feel like those were missed. I feel like the groom’s reaction is the whole point in waiting to see to see each other for the first time and I don’t have those. I also didn’t know I wanted them and didn’t notice they weren’t there until I reflected back. My own reaction is a little off too – like a deer caught in the headlights. I have no regrets about my wedding because it was the best day ever! Everything I did was perfect but if presented the question – yes, I would do a first look!

Ready to plan?

If you’re ready to see if a first look fits in your wedding photography timeline then reach out today! Book a free wedding photography consultation and get all the details you need to know to capture every perfect moment of your big day! Talk soon!

July 6, 2022

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