What even is a first look?! 

A first look is when the couple getting married see each other for the first time before their ceremony! Doing a first look on your wedding day has become more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason. I LOVE when my couples do a first look – in fact, I actually prefer it!! I know that when planning your wedding timeline, there are tons of questions that might come up about first looks. Is it necessary? How do you know if you should do one? What are the pros and cons? Don’t worry!! As an experienced wedding photographer, I have all the answers for you. 

The actual reason for having a first look

Don’t get me wrong, I love first look wedding photos! Being able to capture the intimate moment where you two see each other for the first time is priceless. But… let me let you in on a little secret!! The actual reason I recommend doing a first look has nothing to do with the photos. Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with keeping the timeline of your day running as smoothly as possible. 

You might be thinking: “Alissa, what the heck does a first look have to do with my timeline?!” and I’m so glad you asked!!

You see, my main goal on your wedding day is to keep posed photo times as short and smooth as possible. If I’m being honest, taking the family photos are the most hectic part of wedding days! After the wedding, no matter how much you tell them not to, someone from your family or bridal party (you probably have someone in mind as you read this) will wander off to the bar or get lost in the post-ceremony crowd. When this happens, we will be stressed and wasting time searching for them in a hectic sea of people.

This chunk of time is when couples tend to get anxious, stressed, and downright upset without fail. Obviously, I want to eliminate as MUCH of that as I can! Getting your family photos done before the ceremony gives you a chance to stay in the moment and not have to worry about anything for the rest of the day. You truly get to enjoy your ceremony and then party the night away!

With that being said, if you want to do family photos beforehand AND still have the first look with your partner to be intimate, it has to be intentional. You have to plan a first look into your wedding timeline – it won’t happen all on its own! 

How much sunlight do we have left?

Another benefit for having a first look on your wedding day is you’re getting all the important photos out of the way before sunset. For example, if you do not do a first look and we only have an hour of sunlight left after your ceremony, you can only imagine how stressful it would be to squeeze all the photos in before dark. We’ll be racing the clock to get family, wedding party, AND portraits done with the little sunlight we have left. Again, this can cause stress and anxiety for everyone involved, which is what we DON’T want for your big day!! Alternatively, if we get all the photos done beforehand, we have PLENTY of light and you won’t have to worry about a thing. 

Do you want to go the entire day without seeing your partner?

Did you know that if you don’t schedule a first look, you’re basically spending the entire day without seeing your S/O? The first relaxed, intimate moment you’ll have with them won’t be until around 5 p.m., depending on your timeline. Sooooo many couples who have gotten married say that they didn’t realize how fast your wedding day goes, and they couldn’t believe how little they saw their newlywed throughout the day! Don’t be one of those couples! 

The moment you get to see your person, it will instantly relax you and calm all of your normal wedding day jitters. The sooner you can get that relief, the better! Plus, you get to experience all of the butterflies and exciting moments together for the rest of the day since you’ve already seen each other for the first time. It’s a win-win-win!

Does having a first look “ruin” the moment?

One of the number one questions that couples ask is if having a first look will ruin all of the natural, genuine emotions when your partner sees you walking down the aisle. Now, listen. I’ve been to hundreds of weddings and I can tell you that if they’re going to cry, they’ll cry both times or not at all. That’s just the plain truth!! The first look is such a different feel than the walk down the aisle. 90% of my clients cry when they walk down the aisle even when they’ve done a first look! With the music and all of your guests anticipating the moment, the feelings can get pretty intense. So when you see each other in the moment it will feel unreal, no matter what.

If you’re set on NOT having a first look…

If you are truly 100% against a first look, nobody will force you to have one. We can still make it work, but I would prefer to be much more involved in the timeline planning process to make sure we fit everything in without the post-ceremony stress I talked about earlier. Everything I recommend always has YOUR best interest at heart. Don’t forget that!! 

Looking for a Southern California wedding photographer?

If you are, I would freaking love to chat with you!! To get in touch with me, you can fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you ASAP. In the meantime, be sure to check out my favorite California beach wedding venues

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Alissa Rose

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Hey there

I am so happy you found me! Here’s a bit about this fun-loving girl behind the lens. I am a born-and-raised beach kid from Carlsbad, CA—a small, coastal town in North County San Diego. These days, I’m based in Long Beach and I travel around this big, beautiful world doing my dream job, which is capturing the moments and memories you want to relive over and over again.