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FAQ: Should We Do a First Look? | Maine Wedding Photographer & Videographer

We know we have tackled this question on the blog & social media before but we get asked it so frequently we thought it deserved an updated post!

So what is a first look?

A first look has become a popular tradition for weddings when the couple creates a moment to see each other prior to their wedding ceremony. As your wedding photographer & videographer - we try not to persuade you one way or the other. We always ask our clients how they envisioned seeing each other for the first time & what is most important to them on their wedding day. We're happy to give advice based on timeline, location, personalities, etc. but ultimately it's a personal choice for each couple.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding if a first look is right for you...

1. Think about your personality & relationship. Do you love the tradition of seeing each other while walking down the aisle? Or perhaps a more intimate first look before the ceremony will help calm the nerves.

2. Do you want to enjoy cocktail hour with guests or spend time taking photos? This is the biggest deciding factor for a lot of our couples. Most couples want to maximize time with their guests (and each other) while still getting the important photos & video.

However, this doesn't have to be all or nothing. A lot of our clients that choose not to do a first look still opt to do bridesmaid & groomsmen portraits before the ceremony so that after the ceremony they have less photos to take. And some of our clients that opt to do a first look still end up spending a little bit of their cocktail hour doing family portraits.

*Another element to consider (weather permitting) is that you can sneak out at sunset for couple portraits which cuts down on the time you need to take before or immediately following the ceremony.*

3. Will your ceremony end after sunset? If so, as your photographer & videographer we would recommend a first look so that you have time with natural light for portraits.

4. Are you having an early ceremony? Early ceremonies make first looks a little tricker because you have to be ready earlier and allow time for the photos & video.

A few other thoughts:

1. First looks don't always have to be between the couple. Lots of our brides opt to do a first look with their bridesmaids or with their Dad.

2. Something to mention that couples often forget is that if you do decide to do all your portraits before the ceremony, you need to allow time for that. You no longer are using that 1 hour cocktail hour for your portraits so you want to make sure you have that extra coverage time prior to your ceremony. We are happy to talk through timeline with you and/or your planner so that we can create a timeline that works best for your day.

3. You can get creative & make your own rules. A few of our clients in the past that have opted out of a first look have done an extended cocktail hour instead or even added a break in between their ceremony & cocktail hour. If your ceremony is in a separate location than your reception, provide a list of local places for guests to grab a drink before heading over to your reception. This gives you time to take photos & videos without the stress of missing out on the celebration.

As newlyweds, we get asked a lot about what we chose for our wedding. And to be honest, I (Amanda) didn't have strong feelings one way or the other however Cole really did not want to do a first look. He had very few things when it came to wedding planning that he felt passionate about so I honored his decision and we opted out of doing a first look (ugly crying photos above for reference). I felt comfortable doing this for a variety of reasons but here's how we still maximized our time for photos & video and with our guests without doing a first look...

  1. Our wedding was all in one location so we didn't have to spend time in the car traveling from one spot to the next which means more time to celebrate.

2. We did bridesmaid & groomsmen photos prior to the ceremony.

3. We kept our family portrait list short & intimate as well as our time doing full wedding party portraits.

4. We had an afternoon ceremony so that we would have plenty of hours celebrating our reception. We also had a cocktail style reception (no sit down dinner) so we felt comfortable missing out on cocktail hour because we knew we would have a chance to mingle all night.

5. We had a wedding welcome party the night before (I know you're probably thinking, what does this have to do with a first look? but...) it gave us the opportunity to spend time with our guests prior to our wedding day so that we didn't feel the pressure on our actual wedding to make rounds to each table. It was very important to us to spend our wedding day with each other.

Questions about if a first look is right for you? Wondering how to work photo & video into your wedding timeline? Email us at


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