The idea of having a “First Look” first started in the US, but is now super popular in the UK too! It’s a brief meeting between you and your partner, usually alone, before your ceremony. A glimpse of each other to calm your nerves, and see each other all glammed up before you meet to say your vows in front of everyone. Your outfit is usually a surprise to each other, so that’s why it’s dubbed a ‘first look’.
I’ve seen it first hand, planned it, but I didn’t have one when I got married… although wish I had scheduled time for this. I would have done it privately with a glass of champers in my hotel room or a quiet corner of the hotel bar (a la Amber + Jamie below last year, who did it on the rooftop bar of their hotel).
I’ve weighed up the pros and cons below, so you can decide whether it’s for you or not! Or at least consider it!
Whilst I know, speaking from personal experience, that this can sound a bit cheese… it IS a great chance to get your couple photos done… so that you actually enjoy doing your these pics, in a relaxed environment without anyone watching (per say), and you can take your time doing them and not feel rushed; you will be looking FRESH, and most importantly so you can MAXIMISE the fun part of the day actually PARTYING with your friends and fam.
You don’t need to dramatise it.. no hype or expectation on ‘the look’ necessary. You don’t have to do the ‘tap the shoulder first look’ thing, you can just make it a secret meeting with your partner (and photographer) before the ceremony, and a chance to do some photos. So don’t over think it, either.
It can definitely alleviate any time pressures throughout the rest of the day (a wedding planner’s dream!) – meaning you actually get some of those cocktails you paid for during cocktail hour! And it doesn’t mean you can’t still get in situ snaps throughout the rest of the day as well (you’ll still obviously have some scheduled photo opps with friends and fam).
The other thing to consider is whether you might feel nervous on the day. If you think you’re going to be a bit nervy, seeing the person who is your calming influence before everything kicks off might really help you feel more relaxed for all the important parts of the day. Even if you’re not feeling too nervous, a first look is a great time to grab some time alone together, before what is usually a really busy day surrounded by lots of other people.
Basically, if I was to do it again, I would schedule in a first look and some champers! I was so incredibly nervous walking in to see my husband at Islington Town Hall, but I have literally no idea why… we’d already been living together for 10+ years by that point!
But… A first look isn’t for everyone. Lots of couples dream of the moment their dearly beloved walks towards them down the aisle, or vice versa. You might feel like you’ll miss out on this dramatic moment if you do a first look. All those faces looking back at you (including of course your partner!) can be quite something and maybe you don’t want to spoil the surprise, especially if you’ve kept your outfits secret. Maybe you want all of your guests to see your partner’s tears! (Spoiler; this will probably still happen either way though…!)
You might also want to consider what time your ceremony is. If you need to squeeze in a first look (particularly if you are keen to do it in a separate location), the morning can feel a bit rushed. You might want to have a more relaxed morning of getting ready and fun with your best people only, saving the couple portraits for later on.
All that said…
It’s your day! You can do anything absolutely your way! There are no rules! But defo speak to your planner, coordinator, and photographer about scheduling your photo times regardless, so you can maximise every bit of photo, fun, and drinking time.
In an ideal world, I would schedule in a first look for all my clients, but only if time and location allowed, and as long as it didn’t bring any undue stress.
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