Why You Should Consider Doing a First Look - Alison Heffington Photography

For Brides

Why You Should Consider Doing a First Look

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When I first heard about the “first look” trend several years ago, I was pretty strongly against it. I’m a pretty traditional gal in a lot of ways, so I immediately wrote it off as something I would NEVER do once my wedding day finally arrived. Haha, I was wrong.

As I’m writing this post, Hudson and I are getting married in exactly one week! And guess what—we’re doing a first look! Because I love first looks so much when I’m photographing weddings, I decided to do one pretty early on in our planning process.

When we decided to get married on a Friday instead of a Saturday (so that we could get my dream venue!), we realized that it was going to be pretty difficult for people to attend the ceremony if it was too early because of work schedules.

So, even though sunset is at 6:30pm on our wedding day, we planned for a 5:30pm ceremony start time. If you ever talk with me about planning your timeline, I will definitely suggest your ceremony begin much earlier than an hour before sunset. BUT, it’s doable because of a First Look!! I’ll explain why later in this post 🙂

Why Some Brides Are Against a First Look

Like I said, I was definitely against the First Look trend at first. Brides have shared with me that they’re unsure of a First Look because of one of these three reasons: 1. They want the reaction from their groom when they see them for the first time walking down the aisle; 2. They don’t think their parents will approve; or 3. It’s just too non-traditional for them!

Well, I’ve got answers! 1. I TOTALLY get the desire to get a reaction out of your husband-to-be! But you can still get that during a first look AND during the ceremony! There’s something extra powerful about seeing you walking towards him down the aisle, surrounded by all your friends and family, and that doesn’t go away if you’ve already seen each other! I also encourage my brides to save their veil for just the ceremony so there’s an extra bridal element for him to be surprised by!

Update November 16, 2019: As I’m writing this update, Hudson and I have been married for about two weeks now!! 🙂 And you should know, Hudson is NOT an emotional man. We often joke that he is entirely emotionless. We did a first look, and he didn’t cry then. But as soon as those chapel doors opened to our ceremony, the sweet man was CRYING!!! Not just a little tear rolling down his cheek, but like a full-on, sniffly cry! So we are living proof that you can still get an amazing reaction at the ceremony (and in our case, and even BETTER reaction!) even if you do a first look!

And 2. I know you want to make your parents happy, but I can promise you that doing a First Look is NOT the end of the world. I think if you want to do it and it makes the most sense for your wedding, you should!

Finally, 3. It’s not as non-traditional as you may think! In fact, MOST of my brides choose to do a First Look on their wedding day! First Looks are continuing to grow in popularity because there are some biiiig benefits to doing one!

It helps calm the nerves.

I literally cannot contain my excitement to marry Hudson in one week, but that doesn’t mean I’m not NERVOUS! Literally every.single.bride. I’ve worked with has shared that they are nervous before the ceremony! And even though the guys may not say it, they’re nervous too! Chances are, y’all are the best possible people to help one another relax and enjoy the day. So rather than letting that anxiety build, you can spend time together instead!

Your guests don’t have to wait as long.

A typical wedding day timeline that doesn’t include a first look can look something like this: once the ceremony ends, you spend 30 minutes taking family photos. Next, you’ll take photos with the bridal party, which is typically between 20-30 minutes. Now it’s time for your bride and groom portraits, and I’ve found that you need AT LEAST 20 minutes (preferably longer!) to get a decent amount of images! So you’re looking at somewhere around an hour and a half to get everything done. And that doesn’t even include the time it takes to travel to the reception if you have two venues or bustle your dress before the reception!

But with a First Look, you can get most, if not ALL your portraits done before the ceremony! At my wedding, we’re doing some bride & groom portraits, the bridal party, and family formal portraits all before the ceremony so we can spend the 30 minutes after our ceremony finishes taking bride & groom portraits in the glowy sunset light! And that gives me plenty of time to get my dress bustled and maybe even enjoy some of cocktail hour without making my guests wait forever!

There are lots of ways you can structure a timeline that incorporates a first look based on your priorities for the day which is why it’s so amazing!

First Look

You get way more portraits.

Can I be real for a minute? I think you should make bride & groom portraits a big priority on your wedding day. Because, unfortunately, not much from your wedding day lasts. Your flowers will wilt, the cake will be eaten, and you’ll probably never put on your wedding dress again. But you’ll have your photos. And the ones that you’re *most likely* going to get printed, hang on your wall, and put in your wedding album are your bride & groom portraits!

With a First Look, we’re able to do some bride and groom portraits both before AND after the ceremony. That means you get two parts of the day dedicated SOLELY to those gorgeous images of just you two! This also allows us to shoot in different light and locations, and it gives us the time to get creative without rushing!

It can literally save your timeline.

Fall/Winter brides, I’m talking to you! My favorite seasons are fall and winter, and I’ve always known I wanted to get married at that time of year! While the weather is amazing (especially here in Texas!), the early sunset time is NOT! Luckily we were able to snag a wedding date at our venue that was just days before the time change. But if your date happens to fall after daylight savings time ends, you may be surprised at how early the sun sets!

I always *highly* encourage my late fall & winter brides to consider a first look so they can have the majority of their images in the beautiful, natural daylight instead of artificial light or flash!

I could literally go on and on about why I love first looks, but I know they aren’t for everyone! There are even some cases where I don’t think a first look is in the couple’s best interests because of their priorities for their big day, and that’s okay! I just want to make sure I educate my couples about all their options and what the benefits of doing a first look are!