The First Look – Should it be before the ceremony or walking down the aisle?

I spend a fair amount of time working on the wedding day time line with my clients.  When creating a wedding day photography timeline, one of the first questions I ask is “Will you see each other prior to the ceremony?”  Often, my clients have thought about this and have definite opinions.  That’s great for me since I don’t have a preference.  But if you’ve not thought about this yet, allow me to help you make an informed opinion.


A decade ago, this was not as much of an option as it is now.  The vast majority of brides and grooms reserved their first look for the walk down the aisle.  Then, as guests enjoyed the cocktail hour the wedding party and family took all their formal photos.  In the past decade, brides and grooms have come to realize the cocktail hour is a blast and a part of the day they do not want to miss!  I mean, who doesn’t love a signature cocktail, a baby lamb chop or a scallop wrapped in bacon???  As a result, the first look prior to the ceremony became popular.  Photographers would arrange a private and romantic way for couples to see each other for the first time  and would take all the formal photos prior to the ceremony.  So which is right for you?


Some couples rely solely on tradition to make that decision.  They’ve envisioned their wedding day for quite some time and have always known the first time they will see each other will be that walk down the aisle.  If that’s you and you are not opposed to missing your cocktail hour, think no further.  You’ve made your choice!  Some clients actually look forward to that photo time as a way to spend more time with their wedding party and immediate families.  These people are normally your nearest and dearest and the idea of having your own private cocktail hour is perfect.


Alternately, a private first look can have some wonderful benefits beyond the baby lamb chops.  A private first look can help dispose of the wedding day nerves and make that walk down the aisle a bit less scary.  It can also help slow down the day by elongating the experience.  And finally, you are more in charge of when you see each other.  You can leave as much time as you want for formal photos rather than just limiting yourself to just one hour.  As a photographer, I’m always grateful for some additional photo time.


Most importantly, think about your options ahead of time and decide what is best for the two of you.  Talk to your photographer about your goals and the best way to achieve them.  There is no right answer here.  There are only well informed decisions.  No matter when you see each other for the first time, know that it will be one of the most lovely moments of your wedding day!

About the Author:
Nikki Cole is a professional photographer who captures Weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Senior Portraits and other life events. Please contact her to start telling your story!

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