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From A Photographer’s Point of View – First Look vs Traditional

Here at Dave Zerbe, we have had the experience of working with many soon to be married couples. More recently, we have noticed a trend of uncertainty arising while planning for the big day. The question that is found to be most daunting to answer has been, “Should we do the first look or just stay traditional?” Although traditional is what we know from growing up, watching the movies, and even planning our dream weddings at the age of 10, there are pros and cons to sticking to old ways. For those who are unsure of what a first look is — it is a newer tradition that many couples are choosing to do. It allows you to have a private moment before the ceremony together. This also presents the photographer with extra time to capture that intimate moment. At the end of the day, whatever route you decided to choose is not wrong. Each option provides a different timeline and benefits.

So, which is the best way for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons of both the first look and the traditional way!

First Look Pros:

It allows you to have a private intimate moment with your partner before the ceremony.

Prior to your wedding day, together, we will select a serene location for your first look. On the big day, we will set you and your partner up and let everything else happen naturally. With our long lens’ on, we capture your first look from a distance because we do not want take away from your moment together. We’ve seen everything from tears to laughter, but no matter what, it’s always a beautiful moment.

You will get almost all of the artistic photography done before the ceremony.

It is quite the relief for most couples to know that all of their photographs are done. This allows you to head right into your cocktail hour to mingle with your guests. We tend to notice that couples seem more relaxed and enjoy their night more!

You will enjoy more time on your wedding day alongside your partner.

Typically when going the traditional route, you don’t get to spend any quality time with your partner until the reception. This problem doesn’t exist when a couple chooses to do a first look because this moment happens before the ceremony takes place.

It may help you get rid of those pre-wedding jitters.

There are plenty of nerves that you may feel on your wedding day. Most of our couples share that those pre-ceremony jitters calm down once they have that moment of alone time with their partner. It’s a true calming moment for both. Your wedding day should be enjoyable!

First Look Cons:

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No one (other than the photographers) will see that emotional “first look” between you and your partner.

If you were planning on showing off your emotional moment to all of your wedding guests, then the first look is not for you. The First Look is meant to be a true private moment between you and your partner.

It’s very non-traditional which could go against either family religion or beliefs.

It’s always tough when family religion/tradition goes against what you would like to do on your wedding day, but this happens a lot. Most couples want to stick to what they and their family thinks is best.

Traditional Pros:

It can be quite a magical moment.

To be quite honest, this is the biggest reason to do the traditional first look. The moment is truly magical as the doors open and the bride enters the room walking down the aisle. All of her guests are on their feet, but her focus is on the man she is marrying.

Everyone attending your wedding ceremony will get the opportunity to see the moment you first see your partner.

This magical moment between you and your partner is always beautiful when it’s seen by all of your family and friends. The tears and the emotions amaze your guests and you have a moment you’ll remember with the rest of your life.

You have more time to get ready.

If you choose to do the first look, you would have to be ready way before the ceremony begins. Going the traditional route allows time for relaxation while getting all dolled up for the big day.

Traditional Cons:

You will most likely not have a lot of time for artistic photography.

Most couples typically will have their guests go right from the ceremony to a cocktail hour or reception. This means, you, the wedding party, and immediate family will have to miss out on those first moments with family and friends in order to capture all of the wanted photos. We have noticed that couples have to rush these photos in order to make it to their event on time.

You don’t really get a chance during the ceremony to have a “moment” with each other.

As you enter the ceremony, your nerves are all over the place. You have a ton of thoughts running through your head. You wonder if everything will go correct or if you will make a mistake. You get to the end of the aisle and the ceremony begins. You worry if you will be able to say the lines correctly.

I did not mention anything about your partner and how you got lost in the moment with them. Many of brides have told us that the moment doesn’t always live up to the magic.

You will really only get to spend quality time with your partner during the reception.

Once the ceremony finishes we will start the artistic photographs with your family and wedding party. This doesn’t really give you time to take in that special moment as a married couple together. We have seen this moment to cause stress on the couple, especially if the wedding party or family aren’t cooperating.

Example of each timeline:

Traditional Wedding Day

2:00pm – Ceremony Begins

2:30pm – Ceremony Ends

2:40pm – Introduction Outside the Church

2:50pm – Artistic Photography Begins in the Church

3:25pm – Family Photos End

3:40pm – Leave Church for other photograph location

3:55pm – Arrive

4:00pm – Begin Outdoor Photography

4:40pm – Outdoor Photography Finishes

4:45pm – Leave for Reception Site

5:15pm – Arrive at Reception

5:30pm – Reception Begins with Entrances

Wedding Day with First Look

2:00pm – First Look

2:15pm – Bride and Groom Artistic Photographs

3:00pm – Wedding Party and Family Photos Begin

3:45pm – End of Photographs

3:50-4:30pm –  Downtime for Bride and Groom

4:30 – Ceremony Begins

5:00 – Ceremony Ends

5:15-6:00pm – Cocktail Hour

6:15pm – Reception Begins with Entrances