Deciding whether or not to do a first look can be stressful. Weighing out the pros, the cons...advice from your BFF who had one or your FB friend who knows it all. This blog is inspired by a podcast we did with Sam, owner of Mountain Peak Studios, a badass wedding and elopement photography business in northern NJ. She is an iced coffee addict and rescue dog mom who will drive her Jeep anywhere your vows take you.
In our podcast she spills all the tea on first looks. Enough tea spilling to help you decide whether or not you should do one. In our blog here we give you just some of the highlights. Get the full scoop on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. While your here though, check out the recap!
When deciding on a first look you want to weight out the pros and cons, think about who will attend it with you, where you want to do it and also how the timing fits into your day.
First Look Pros:
First Look Cons:
If you DO plan on doing a first look Sam has some great advice to change it up and making it even more personal! Writing letters and reading them to each other at your first look was something I wish I did at my own day! Can I go back, relive it and do that please? Also, she recommends giving your gifts to each other at that time rather than during the prep as it's traditionally done. Loving this because you'll be able to physically give your significant other their gift, see their reaction and get to hug each other, thank each other and all that other great stuff in person instead of watching it on a video a few months later.
When doing a first look you'll also want to think about location! Sam loves a private area with good lighting. Think, a beautiful wooded area where the sunlight can come through the trees. Rock Island Lake Club in Sparta has one of her favorite spots for this photo op. Scout your venue and work with your wedding planner to determine some possible first look locations. Odds are, your photographer is familiar with your venue and already has some in mind. Discuss it and see what will work best for the time of year/day.
Besides location, you'll also want to think about WHO you want there with you. Are you looking for a super intimate first look with just you and your significant other? Possibly invite your bridal party to join in and get their reactions as well? Parents? Grandparents? Think about this in advance to set the tone for your moment.
Lastly, something that is super important and you'll want to think about when doing a first look is your timing. Are you sold on your venue's beautiful bride/groom suites? If you are, you may want to have a later ceremony. Some venues will have a certain time you can arrive and may charge additional for an early arrival or may not offer an earlier option at all. This is something to discuss prior to setting your ceremony time. For instance, if you plan on getting ready at your venue and you have a 3pm ceremony time and plan on doing a first look, you may need to get in as early as 7am (or earlier) depending on how many beauty services need to be done. Work with your wedding planner and photographer to determine what timeline is going to work best for you so that you can have the best day ever!
Now, on the flipside, maybe you decide you do not want to do a first look. Awesome! Don't feel bad! There is no right or wrong, this is YOUR day and you need to do it YOUR way. If you do decide to skip it, Sam has some great advice! First, hire that 2nd photographer! This will help to cut down on some of the time it will take to get all of your photos done. Also, do not do a receiving line. We repeat, do not do a receiving line. We can promise you, Aunt Sally and Uncle Bob will take up way more time than you'd think while saying their congrats and it will delay you getting away for your photos. Trust us on this one. Lastly, you can check with your venue to see if you are able to add on time to your cocktail hour. That way, instead of getting 1 hour for cocktail hour, you can get 1.5-2hrs and have additional time to take your photos and catch the tail end of cocktail hour to enjoy all of the amazing food and see everyone!
There will always be different opinions on whether or not to do a first look. We urge you to trust your gut and do what your heart is telling you. If you are super indecisive, make a list of non negotiables on your wedding day. Share those with your wedding planner and photographer and allow them to guide you in the right direction to ensure you have the wedding day you deserve and that it goes exactly how you envisioned.
Thank you Sam for your insight, time and laughs while doing our podcast and writing this blog! xoxo!