With so many questions about wedding etiquette, logistics, and budget, wedding planning can quickly become a stressful process. Some of the elements of wedding planning you can control. Others, such as weather and travel conditions, you can’t. As with all unknowns, those “uncontrollable” aspects can definitely add anxiety to the wedding planning experience. 

At HauteFêtes, we help couples focus on the things they can control leading up to and on their wedding day. This helps keep the entire experience more enjoyable and less stressful. One of those things is your couple portraits with your wedding photographer. While there are many traditional photo-ops–the bridal party, both sides of the family, and couple photos–one budding photography tradition is to capture a couple’s “first look” prior to the wedding ceremony. 

A “first look” is a pre-organized, private moment between a couple on their wedding day in which they see each other for the first time before the ceremony. Some couples choose to exchange letters or mementos, while others use it to kick off their wedding portrait session. 

Having a “first look” is entirely a personal decision and one that you should consider seriously with your partner and plan ahead of time to ensure it fits within your wedding day expectations, as well as your wedding day schedule. 

We have laid out the following reasons for and against a wedding day “first look” so you can decide what is best for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong decision.

To Have a First Look on Your Wedding Day

Here are the reasons many HauteFêtes couples decide to have a “first look” wedding day experience.

1. A First Look Can Calm Your Nerves

It is not unusual to have stomach butterflies on your wedding day. It is the day you have been dreaming of and planning for a long time. As the excitement and anticipation build, so do the nerves. A “first look” wedding experience can help ease them. 

When you take a private moment to see your partner for the first time on your wedding day, you get to experience all of the emotions you are feeling about getting married privately and together. This intimate moment provides an opportunity to calm your nerves and find comfort in your partner before marrying in front of all your closest friends and family. Plus, you can get your tears out before walking down the aisle–at least some of them.

Rancho Santa Fe wedding first look
Rancho Santa Fe wedding portraits

2. A First Look Provides Extra Time Together

Your wedding day will go by in a flash, trust me. It is important to remember to take deep breaths and savor special moments throughout the day, even taking time to “look in” on your wedding from a distance.

A wedding “first look” is a perfect opportunity to savor the moment and have a little extra alone-time with your partner before the rest of the wedding day festivities begin.

 

3. A First Look Offers More Time for Wedding Events

Oftentimes, “first look” wedding experiences are photographed and followed by family and bridal party photos before the ceremony. This frees up time so you can actually join your guests for the cocktail hour without having to sneak away for all those photos immediately following the ceremony.

Also, having your wedding photography take place earlier in the day can be especially beneficial when light is at a premium, such as during the fall and winter months when there is little daylight to do portraits post-ceremony.

 

Same sex wedding Rancho Valencia brides first look alternative

Or Not to Have a First Look on Your Wedding Day

Here are the reasons some HauteFêtes couples decide against a “first look” on their wedding day.

1. Couples Want the “First Look” to be Down the Aisle

While “first look” moments with just the couple are intimate and special in their own way, it can take away some of the excitement of walking down the aisle. There is something really special in waiting to see your spouse for the first time as she or he is walking down the aisle or waiting for you at the other end. The emotion is raw and a skilled wedding photographer will be able to capture the moment, which is special to look back on.

Church wedding La Jolla bridal processional
Church wedding Rancho Santa Fe groom

2. Ceremony Requirements Don’t Allow Time for a “First Look”

If you’re planning a wedding ceremony at an offsite location, such as a church or house of worship, you may be bound to specific time constraints which prevent you from having enough time to do a “first look” moment before your wedding ceremony. 

This is why it is essential to partner with a full-service wedding planner such as HauteFêtes. When we work with couples, we coordinate with your photographer to ensure enough time is allocated for wedding portraits either before or after the wedding ceremony, whichever you prefer.

Plan Your “First Look” Wedding Moment First

If you choose to have a wedding day “first look” it is important to incorporate this into your overall wedding plan ahead of time, also deciding on the order of who will be waiting and who will approach. The last thing you want is for the intimate moment to be rushed in order to stay on schedule. 

Your wedding planner will need to work closely with your hair and makeup team and photographer to make sure there is enough time allotted for you to get to the church–or wherever you’re going–on time. These little details ensure you are wedding-ready when it comes time to walk down the aisle.

If you choose to have your “first look” be down the aisle, and all of your wedding portraits take place after the ceremony, there are other details to consider. For example, you may consider paying your hair and makeup team an ‘overtime’ fee to stay and touch you up after the ceremony so your bridal portraits are perfect. 

Romantic first look at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Even the smallest elements of your wedding take detailed planning when it comes to executing a seamless wedding day experience. At HauteFêtes, we help you cover everything from budget planning to vendor coordination to ensuring your “first look” is everything you’ve dreamt it would be, whether before your ceremony or during it. 

Let us help you from the beginning and inquire about our full-service wedding planning services today.

Groom and Bride first look on wedding day