What a first look is
Usually the couple sees each other the first time (on the wedding day) at the ceremony. Wedding photographers usually prefer to move this moment before the ceremony. They set up one of you at a beautiful spot and in good lighting. Typically the other one walks up from behind and taps you on the shoulder. The goal is to capture the emotional reaction and to create a very unique moment.
Why you absolutely should do a 1st look
Short answer: To have more time with your guests. Ask anyone about the one thing they struggled with on their own wedding day. Usually the answer will be that they couldn’t talk to everyone enough. There are so many very important people, some of them you can't even see that often and you want to maximize the time you spend with them.
Long answer: You will have more and better photos of the two of you. The first look allows you to move the couple shoot before the ceremony. Not only will it feel more relaxed and you could go to more locations. The rule is simple: The longer I have to create photos with the two of you, the better they will be. Yes, we could do beautiful photos within ten minutes. But there won’t be a lot of variation and we might not even go to different spots. If you are planning to do your couple photos within cocktail hour, please note that you will never have a full hour to shoot. You might spend 15-20 minutes to do group photos. Then you might need to get in line for the introductions a little before as well. That means, you might only spend 15 minutes with your photographer.
When I am okay with NOT doing the first look
Every rule has an exception. In this case, it is pretty simple. If the structure of your wedding day has a gap between the ceremony and the reception of about two hours or more, you have enough time to do the couple shoot in between. Also, if one of you doesn’t like the idea of the first look or always wanted to wait for that moment until the ceremony, we will definitely find a way to work around that! For example splitting the couple shoot between within cocktail hour and around sunset.
You could even do most of the group photos beforehand as well. Definitely try to get the wedding party together to do some with them, just a couple of group variations and then individually you with each member of the wedding party. Family photos could be done as well, but you know best if your family will actually show up early enough to do that. I personally think it is easier to do family photos right after the ceremony most of the time.
Just take a look at this crazy beautiful first look in a field below. Maybe that convinces you more than all my words.
Wedding Venue: The Gallagher Barn
Makeup: Tricia Murphy
DJ: Moving Music
Frozen Yoghurt Truck: The Yoghurt Shack