I have had many of my couples tell me in our kick off meeting that they aren’t sure if they’d like to do a first look, or wait until the wedding ceremony to see each other. As a wedding planner, my brain gets immediately logistical on how both options would flow with their wedding day timeline. Here are some of the questions I ask my clients to help them choose which option is best for them!
Not having a first look can be extremely difficult during the winter months, especially here in Minnesota. If you’re having the typical 4 or 5pm ceremony, the sun will be completely set by the time the ceremony is over! If you are wanting to wait to see the love of your life until you’re walking down the aisle, I would recommend doing a ceremony a little earlier in the afternoon. That way, your photographer can utilize the beautiful natural light in your photos!
Typically, I estimate that couple, wedding party, and family photos take about 2 hours – this can be more or less depending on how many loved ones are included in these groups! Cocktail hours are usually between 60-90 minutes long. Are there photos that you’re willing to do separately before the ceremony (bride with bridesmaids, groom with his family, etc.)? If your ceremony and cocktail hour/reception are at separate locations, would you be ok with adding a short break between the ceremony and cocktail hour festivities in order to accommodate for more photos? Or, would you like to simplify your photo list so that you are able to get them all done during the cocktail hour? These are definitely questions you should be asking your photographer and planner to make sure that your ideal timeline is realistic!
I am all for finding moments during wedding day where my couples can be alone. Whether this be 5 minutes after the ceremony to soak in the moment, or having a first look, it’s a great way to take some time to be present with each other before entertaining your guests for the evening. If you’re someone who gets nervous easily, it can also calm some of the pre-ceremony jitters to see your partner in advance! After the ceremony, most (if not all) of your photos will be done, and you can enjoy cocktail hour and your reception with your guests. It’s all about what feels right to you!
Touching on similar points to above, cocktail hours are typically between 60-90 minutes. If you’re wanting to do photos during cocktail hour, but still enjoy part of it with your guests, timing can get extremely difficult. This is when I would especially recommend having a break after the ceremony, and doing as many photos as you can (without each other, of course) before the ceremony!
At the end of the day, the most important question is if YOU would like to have a first look or not. What is your gut telling you to do? If you have an amazing team of vendors, they will help you create a timeline that suits your needs! Let your photographer and planner know that you would love to talk candidly about what not having a first look would mean for your wedding day timing.
I hope these questions help guide you to a decision that feels right for you and your wedding day! Whether you choose to have a first look or not, the moment you see your partner for the first time will be so so special!