As your big day approaches, you may be trying to decide whether you would like to do a first look or whether you would like to wait until your walk down the aisle for your grand reveal. While many couples are opting for first look photos for a number of reasons, there are still many others who prefer the time-honored tradition of waiting until the ceremony. If you are struggling to decide, read on below! We have put together some important factors to consider to help you decide which route is best for you.

Easing Any Pre-Ceremony Nerves – For many brides, seeing their groom before the ceremony will put their minds at ease and calm any pre-ceremony jitters, especially if they know they tend to be on the emotional side and are concerned about being able to focus during the ceremony. Doing a first look can get those big tears out of the way—and give you a chance to fix your makeup before your walk down the aisle! It also gives you an intimate moment alone with your husband-to-be before the whirlwind starts.

That Special Moment at the Altar – Having a first look does not necessarily take away from that special moment of you and your groom seeing each other as you walk down the aisle, but NOT doing a first look and delaying seeing each other can build suspense and add to the emotion of your ceremony (as well as embrace that time-honored tradition).

Joining Your Cocktail Hour – First-look photos free up more time after the ceremony to be able to join your guests at cocktail hour. If this is really important to you, a first look might be the way to go. If you decide against a first look, your romantic portraits will likely take up the majority of cocktail hour. On the other hand, if you have decided you would like to wait until your walk down the aisle to see each other, you can always extend cocktail hour another 15 minutes to give you time to join the tail end.

Getting Ready Time – Taking first look photos means being dressed and having hair and makeup done earlier, which means you and your wedding party will need to wake up earlier. If this does not appeal to you, you may think twice about this.

The Amount of Daylight – If you are having a winter wedding and want natural light for some of your romantic portraits, you will definitely want to consider a first look since the sun will set between 4:30pm and 5:30pm.

Amount of Pictures on Your List – If you have an intimate family and a short group photo list, waiting until the ceremony to see each other is very manageable. If you have an extensive family and group photo list, as well as a desire for photos at another location other than your wedding venue, than a first look is definitely the route to go. You also need to consider the amount of different poses with your bridal party and family you’d like to have.  If you choose not to see each other prior to the ceremony, then all your “together” pictures must be taken in an hour.  This means you only have 20 minutes to take pictures with the two of you and your bridal party, 20 minutes for the two of you and your families, and then 20 minutes for just the two of you alone (AKA your romantics).  This is the main reason most couples decide to see each other prior to the ceremony, so that they have more time for photography with their families and bridal party.

Ultimately, you will want to turn to the pros (your wedding coordinator/planner and photographer) for advice on scheduling your big day! They will help put together a detailed timeline for you to ensure everything flows well with the type of photos you have in mind. If you and your fiancé are having a difficult time agreeing on whether to do a first look or not, you may want to consider one of the following two ways to compromise: one idea is to arrange holding each others’ hands around a corner without seeing each other (another great photography moment), which gives you a chance to exchange sweet words with one another; another idea is to do a first look but to save certain accessories for your walk down the aisle, such as certain jewelry or your veil.

Photographer – Jenna Bechtholt Photography | Contact: info@jennabechtholt.com