What Is A First Look? Why Should I Consider It?

filed in: Business, Tips for Clients

September 3, 2014

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of First Looks.  After photographing hundreds of weddings over the past 3 years, I can speak from experience and tell you that First Looks really make the wedding day more enjoyable.  Not only for the photographer, but for the bride, the groom, the bridal party, the families… basically everyone.  Wedding days are unpredictable.  They can be chaotic and stressful if you don’t plan your timeline accordingly.  When we design a wedding day timeline to include a First Look, we are able to pad the timeline with extra time throughout the morning/afternoon, before the ceremony, so that if hair + makeup is running late, or dad forgot to bring his tie, or your brother is dragging his feet because he doesn’t want to get dressed up, it’s okay!  We have created a timeline with plenty of wiggle room so that photos are as painless and as stress-free as possible.  The last thing you want is to feel stressed during photos on your wedding day.

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So what exactly is a First Look?  Simply stated, a First Look is when the bride + groom see each other BEFORE the ceremony.  I’ll work with the couple to figure out a general location for the First Look – which is typically either near their getting ready location or at their venue.  I’ll choose a more specific location on the day of the wedding, since it all depends on finding the perfect lighting.  Regardless of where it takes place, it is always somewhere private where my bride + groom can share this moment away from everyone while me + my second shooter document it from afar.

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While I LOVE First Looks, I try not to push them on my couples unless there is a conflict with their ceremony time + sunset.  That is the only time I “strongly suggest” they consider it, only because I cannot create beautiful images that are true to my style without two things… natural light + ample time.  The last thing I want for my couples is for them to be disappointed with their wedding photos, so I am always open + honest about what I need from them in terms of the timeline of the day to create the types of images they hired me for.

(C) Dana Cubbage Wedding Photography 2013(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2014(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2014(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2013

Other than that, I leave the final decision up to my clients.  I am always up front about the benefits of doing a First Look because I truly believe it enhances the wedding day experience and I want what is BEST for my couples!  More and more couples are choosing to do a First Look and here are some of the top reasons why couples choose to do one:

  • You get rid of the nerves with a First Look.  No matter how cool + collected your man may seem, grooms normally become incredibly nervous on their wedding day.  They don’t anticipate it, but it happens.  In my experience, guys are usually the ones who are against doing a First Look – but I have so many testimonials from grooms who initially weren’t a fan of the idea, but afterwards admitted to being SO glad they did a First Look because it allowed them to be so much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony.
  • First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day and get all of your photos done BEFORE the ceremony!  Instead of being rushed through photos during cocktail hour, you will actually get to enjoy your portraits without feeling stressed out.  Bonus: you’ll also be able to enjoy cocktail hour with all of your family + friends who have traveled so far to celebrate with you!
  • First Looks are great, especially during the warmer months when it’s most likely to be hot + humid (which is basically May through September here in Charleston).  It allows us to get all of the photos out of the way while everyone’s hair + makeup is still fresh, the flowers haven’t begun to wilt yet, and everyone is still in a good mood!
  • You actually get intimate time together on your wedding day.  Most brides don’t realize that once you walk down the aisle and shock him with your gorgeousness, he can’t even tell you how amazing you look.  He can’t touch you, embrace you, or even speak to you!  You have to wait until 30+ minutes later, when the ceremony is over, for him to react and tell you how great you look.  After the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
  • Doing a First Look allows you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day.  More than likely, your First Look will be the ONLY time you two will be alone the entire day!  You’ll cry and laugh together… and that will put you in the PERFECT mood for your romantic portraits.  Normally, portraits are a little rushed after family formals and it can be really hard to get back into that “lovey dovey” mood when all you want to do is go party with your friends + family.  When you have just shared your First Look together, you are ready to love on each other and I am able to capture some amazing images during those moments.
  • You are investing a lot into your wedding photography and when you choose to do a First Look, you will receive roughly 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with!  By doing a First Look, you are really making the most of your photography investment.

(C) Dana Cubbage Wedding Photography 2013(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2014(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2014(C) Dana Cubbage Weddings 2014

As you can see, there are a ton of reasons why couples should consider a First Look.  I’ve never had a couple regret their decision to do a First Look, but I HAVE had couples regret NOT doing a First Look.  Trust me when I tell you that a First Look does NOT diminish that moment when the bride walks down the aisle on the arm of her father towards her future husband.  NOTHING can diminish that moment and it WILL still happen.  The only difference is that with a First Look, the groom will feel so much more relaxed during that moment, when all eyes are on him.  He’ll be able to enjoy that moment – and so will the bride – because the nerves are gone and they can relish in that beautiful moment together.

Need more convincing?  Check out this amazing post from Jeff Marsh Creative.

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  1. RCBAudio - Ron Swain DJ & Karaoke

    September 3rd, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Wonderful explanation and of course always great photos!

  2. Breanna Marie Shaw

    September 4th, 2014 at 12:20 am

    That last sentence is what it’s all about.

  3. Francesca + Brendan // Navy + Gold Charleston Wedding at Hibernian Hall | Dana Cubbage Weddings // Charleston SC + Destination Wedding Photographer

    September 10th, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    […] SO lucky that the forecasted rain cleared out of town for their big day.  After their beautiful First Look on Chalmers Street, we looped around the block and grabbed some beautiful portraits before meeting […]

  4. Tips for Creating Beautiful Portraits on Your Wedding Day | Dana Cubbage Weddings // Charleston SC + Destination Wedding Photographer

    December 5th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    […] a First Look.  Especially if portrait time with your groom is important!  The First Look adds so much valuable […]

  5. History of the Traditional Reveal… and Why You Should Consider a First Look! | Dana Cubbage Weddings // Charleston SC + Destination Wedding Photographer

    January 26th, 2015 at 12:00 am

    […] DCW couples understand the benefits of doing a First Look on their wedding day and it isn’t often that I have to “sell” someone on the […]

  6. Reagan + Robert // Hartsville SC Country Club Wedding | Dana Cubbage Weddings | Charleston SC Wedding Photography

    June 15th, 2015 at 12:00 am

    […] Look (disclaimer: I did not “make” her do a First Look – rather, she read my blog post about the benefits of a First Look and changed her mind about them all on her own… I swear!!)  She was so excited to see […]

  7. What Time Should My Wedding Ceremony Start? | Dana Cubbage Weddings | Charleston SC Wedding Photography

    September 4th, 2015 at 12:00 am

    […] you are doing a First Look, it really doesn’t matter what time your ceremony starts because all of your photos will be […]

  8. Why I Give Priority To Weddings Where There Is A First Look | Dana Cubbage Weddings | Charleston SC Wedding Photography

    September 11th, 2015 at 12:00 am

    […] already written a blog post about what a First Look is and why I think every client needs to consider it.  I’ve also written a post about the history of the traditional reveal and why it’s […]

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