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All About 'The First Look'

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‘FIRST LOOK’ PROS

Everyone Gets to Join the Party

Instead of disappearing for an hour or more post-ceremony, the newlyweds can take part in their own cocktail reception, says Anne Markey, owner of Favor Me Events in Charlotte, N.C. You can enjoy the drinks, appetizers and entertainment you spent many months planning, and have more time to mingle with your many guests. And by getting all your formal group photos out of the way early, your wedding party and family members also will benefit, says Byron Roe, a Bend, Ore.-based photographer. “In my experience, after the ceremony people seem more bothered when they’re taken away from chatting with their friends,” he says.

More Photographer Control

The ability to choose the First Look location based on the best light, angles and scenery allows for ideal composition and better images in a technical sense, Roe says. “I have no control over these major elements during the ceremony. In addition, I’ll have to work around the wedding party and guests to try and capture the dramatic scene … the possibility of a person getting in the way of a key photographic moment is very real.” Keep in mind that if your wedding is in the late fall, winter or early spring when clocks are set back an hour, a First Look is more likely to ensure daylight for any outdoor photos, adds Markey.

It Settles the Butterflies

Many newlyweds-to-be who are uncomfortable with the idea of “all eyes on them” find that the First Look can help calm their nerves, says Markey. As a result, couples are often better able to be in the moment and remember both the First Look and the whirlwind that follows, notes Roe.

Less Stress

There’s always a bit of drama when the bride and groom need to work with their families during the formal group portraits, says Roe, and a wedding party member might forget and head for the photo booth or bar. Taking care of these sometimes-complicated collective pictures beforehand allows the newlyweds to leave the ceremony and join their reception in a true state of excitement, focused on each other and the occasion.

‘FIRST LOOK’ CONS

It’s Not Traditional

Many couples consider the First Look, but end up sticking with tradition of not seeing each other till the ceremony due to pressure from their families, says Markey. And tradition is often quite important to the couple themselves, she adds, especially in the South.

It Takes Longer

 

Keep in mind that you, your wedding party and your family will all need to be picture-perfect ready a couple hours earlier in the day. Many couples don’t mind, but others may find it extra daunting or tiring.

It Might Feel Less Exciting

“I recently heard from a bride that she was concerned she wouldn’t get the butterflies that she always imagined when walking down the aisle if she saw her fiancé beforehand,” says Markey. “She was also worried that it would downplay his excitement, as well.”

This is probably the most common reason couples decide to forgo the First Look. But Roe doesn’t believe an earlier meeting diminishes the awe of the bride walking down the aisle with her father an hour later: “The groom is definitely not thinking, ‘Wow, this is kinda boring now.’”

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