As your wedding day quickly approaches, many big decisions are to be made that will impact your day and determine the flow of your wedding day activities. One of those big decisions being when you and your bride/groom-to-be will be seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day and when that moment is captured. Not only is this a important moment of the day because of how amazing of a moment it is seeing your special someone looking stunning right before you marry them, it also has a big impact on how your wedding day will unfold. I’ve been lucky enough to see how this important decision has affected many weddings and can help you make the decision that makes the most sense for your big day.
Pro: Controlling The “First Look” The first major benefit of having the “first look” pre-ceremony is that your photographer can control the location and lighting, giving you much better portraits of this special moment. A talented photographer can pick a spot that’s scenic and flattering for both people and can document this special moment without taking away from the moment itself.
Pro: More Intimate Having the “first look” at the ceremony in front of a couple hundred people can be a very special moment, but it can often prove to be both emotional and a lot pressure for both people getting married. Taking care of the “first look” before the ceremony can mean having this special moment to yourselves without the pressure of having all of your guests watching. Because weddings are so hectic and non-stop for the couple getting married, there are very few quiet and tender moments between the couple on their wedding day. Creating this special moment where not only the two getting married get to see each other for the first time is important, but also spending time to catch up on the happenings of the day so far and taking a moment to relax with each other is priceless. I always recommend having your photographer step away for 5-10 minutes after the “first look” if time allows. Taking a few moments as a couple to chat and catch up at this point and have a moment alone can be really pleasant.
Pro: More Time With Your Guests More often than not the couple to be wed has many guests coming to their wedding with some of them having flown from out of state, so time with your guests on this special day is very important. One draw back of having your “first look” pictures at the ceremony means that many photographs need to be taken immediately after the ceremony and before the couple joins the party. Any images that would require the couple to see each other would now need to be taken as your guests mingle, some of these portraits include:
Portraits of the couple
The full wedding party
Family portraits that include both couples
While it doesn’t sound like a whole lot, these images can take well over a hour to capture correctly all while your guests wait for you to join in on the celebration. Having these images all wrapped-up pre-ceremony means that, if all goes correctly, once the ceremony is over and the license is signed, the couple can almost seamlessly re-join the wedding ready to mingle with guests! After all, your wedding day is only one day and you have all of those amazing people in spot, right?
Con: Going Against Tradition One of the few drawbacks to having the “first look” pre-ceremony I can think of is simply that it is tradition to see your significant other as they walk down the aisle to greet you and that moment can be pretty amazing! If any couple really wants to see each other for the first time at the ceremony, I get it. It’s a amazing moment to witness and capture, but be prepared to leave a chunk of time to set aside to work with your photographer after the ceremony in order to get those very important images (listed above). Leaving this time after the ceremony is fine and it is easy enough to work around, but it will mean keeping your guests waiting just a bit longer to really get on with the celebration. One issue you may run into is that parents / grandparents in your family may nudge you towards waiting to see each other at the ceremony as this is tradition and the older generations in our families can sometimes lean more towards the traditional aspects of such a occasion.
Snohomish-based wedding photographer Melissa Miksch adds, “Traditions and parental expectations can make it tough to let go of the idea that the walk down the aisle shouldn't be when it happens. For some people, this is a very important piece of the ceremony, and taking it out of play just isn't a consideration.” Keep in mind that this is your wedding day and while it may be difficult making decisions that go against what some people in your family desire, it is important to remember that it is your day and your decision to make.
Con: Getting Ready Earlier Because you’d be taking care of most of your portraits before the ceremony, this may require getting to your venue / getting ready spot a bit earlier so that you can get ready to go for your portraits. Weddings can be long and tiring days at times for everyone involved and the idea of a earlier start may sound like a bit much, but keep in mind that sometimes it means only getting started a hour earlier or so. If you’re leaning towards having your portraits wrapped-up prior to the ceremony, make sure to check with your venue to determine ahead of time when is the earliest you can arrive to start getting ready in order to plan accordingly.
Regardless of which route you decide on, keep in mind that this is such a important day and you will have a amazing experience no matter which route you decide. As a photographer that has photographed over 120 weddings all over the pacific northwest, I just like to stress the benefits of time management that can come with capturing these portraits with all of that free time you have before your guests arrive prior to the ceremony. Having your portraits all wrapped-up heading into the ceremony means that as soon as the wedding is over and the license is signed means more time with your lovely guests!
Jon Kaplan is the lead photographer and owner of Jon Kaplan Photography. Jon Kaplan is based out of the city of Snohomish and has worked as a full-time photographer all over the Pacific Northwest the last 5 years. Jon has enjoyed becoming a part of such a wonderful community and getting to know so many wonderful people in and around Snohomish. When Jon isn't working, he can often be found spending time with his friends and family, getting quality time with his dog "Lucy", hiking, running, going to concerts with friends and enjoying the arts as much as possible.