To See or Not To See? .....The First Look

Of all the options couples have available to them on a wedding day, the one that seems to cause a lot of anxiety is the ‘First Look’.

Years ago the cocktail hour was traditionally the time that was used to give the guests something to enjoy while the couple was having their formal photographs done with the bridal party and family. These days, some couples want to actually attend their cocktail hour because “they paid for it so why not attend it”. Honestly…… I couldn’t agree more.

The First Look takes place before the ceremony and allows the bride and groom to see each other for the first time on their wedding day without all of their guests watching. So, why the anxiety?……Tradition.

More times than not, the couples’ parents have a very traditional outlook on marriage and feel that the bride and groom should only see each other for the first time during the ceremony. It’s something that they likely did when they were married and “it’s how it’s always been done”. So to break that tradition just seems wrong to them. It’s a fine idea, but like most traditions, they are based on old notions of a bygone era and there is a more practical solution.

Here are the advantages of doing a First Look:

  1. The couple has an opportunity for a very quiet and intimate moment together without guests

  2. The formal shots are done and there’s nothing to do after the ceremony except enjoy cocktails

  3. Photographically speaking its a gold mine. A beautiful, non-rushed moment. Perfect

  4. Bridal party and family shots are done and trust me, they’re happy about it.

The only real ‘downside’ is you are going against tradition. Now, if that’s important to you then by all means you should follow your heart and go with tradition. It’s not so critical that it will ruin your day by any means and if you plan accordingly, you should be just fine. That said, if it’s only your parents who don’t want you to do it, I would still give the First Look some serious thought.

Your day will flow a bit more smoothly, you’ll get some very unique and memorable photographs that you’ll love, you’ll be able to enjoy your cocktail hour and….well…..your parents will get over it. 🙂

Do you really know your photographer?

Many people can take great photographs these days. With high quality equipment available for relatively cheap, the price of entry into the wedding industry has never been so low. Consequently, when a ‘would be’ photographer gets a few compliments from family and friends and are told “you should be a professional”, a new photographer is born.

Those new photographers need to fill their portfolio and get some experience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the problem is how most of them go about getting that experience. What they should do is offer their services for free to an experienced photographer that is willing to hire them as a second photographer and pay them in experience instead of money. It’s a longer path, but it’s the right path. There are of course exceptions to the rule. Personally I was born to a professional photographer and my father taught me his craft. I’m grateful for that blessing, but not many have that kind of good fortune.

Unfortunately, what happens most often is they instead get unsuspecting couples to hire them at a deep discount. The couple thinks they are getting a spectacular deal, but are usually very disappointed when their expectations aren’t met and their photographic memories are lost forever. Suddenly that ‘good deal’ doesn’t seem so good and they realize just how high of a price they actually paid. The photographer gets what they want, but the couple is left in the dust.

The moral of the story: get to know your photographer. Find out how they got their experience. Find out how long they’ve been at it. Ask them why they got into it and what they like most about it. Ask them about their ideas and how they might handle common issues that could happen during your wedding day. Ask to see their work. Lastly, see if you click! Understand that of all the professionals you hire for your special day, the photographer is the only one who will be with you all day. The only one who has to know how to interact with you, your family, your bridal party, your friends and all of your guests. If you feel like they might not be able to handle all of that….you’re probably right.

It’s your day. It’s your life. It’s your money. It’s your memories. Keep looking until you find someone with the right experience level, the right motivations, the right skill set and of course the right personality. You’re worth it, so don’t settle for less.

And yes, it may cost a little more because that kind of experience doesn’t come cheap. But ultimately it will cost far less in the long run. After all, as they say, you can’t put a price on happiness.

……I wonder if a photographer first said that. 😊