briana snyder photography » wedding and portrait photography in dayton, ohio and beyond

to “first look,” or to not “first look”?


The “first look” debate. Is there really anything new to say? There are great benefits (especially from a photographer’s perspective) for a couple seeing each other before the ceremony. You have much more time to get portraits, and you can be ready to head straight to the party after the ceremony. Those “first look” photos can be really stinkin’ cute. Also, you also get to have some quiet and relaxed time together, before the festivities of the day. Zack and I did not see each other beforehand, and that is what I most think we missed–just having some time to just be together and breathe, before all the events began.

But! I 100%, completely get not wanting to see one another (um, we did it that way!), and I never try to persuade couples one way or another. If a couple asks my opinion, I will tell them honestly the pros and cons of each option. Otherwise, I simply ask what they plan to do, and we arrange the schedule from there.

Two of my recent couples, though, did something a little bit differently. Both couples had planned to see each other before the ceremony, and both did. But both couples, full of wedding-day emotions and for wholly different reasons, decided the morning of to have their “first look” entirely alone–without anyone else, even me, around.

groom-crying-when-he-sees-his-bridePin It

Yes, I am a photographer and yes, my goal (and, um, job) is to capture beautiful, emotion-filled photos of your day. And, yes, those couples now don’t have photographs of their first few, emotional moments together. But, as I thought about it, not a single other one of the “benefits” of seeing each other before the ceremony was lost. If anything, they had the added joy of getting to simply enjoy being together, entirely alone, for a few moments before the day began.

I’m, of course, not saying everyone should things this way–I firmly believe whatever your wedding day is to you, that is the wedding day that I am there to document, and your wedding is not a photoshoot. If you want to see each other for the first time when one of you comes down the aisle? Awesome! If you want to get ready in the same place and walk out together to great your guests? That sounds lovely. And, if you want to get pictures before, but not see each other until the wedding, so you want to do all your portraits wearing a chicken head mask? Please hire me, cause that would be awesome.

At one of these recent weddings, after the bride went out to meet her groom, I happened to catch a glance of the couple as a passed a window.  The groom look was one of, “oh-my-gosh she’s beautiful,” and the bride was wiping away tears. Though I wasn’t anywhere near them, I instinctively grabbed my camera and felt a little pang–it would have made such a perfect photograph! But, I also found myself glad, because, regardless of what would be the best photo-op, they did what was right for them.

So, brides and grooms, what did you do (or what will you do)? How did you make this decision?

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