I love to photograph a first look wedding day. I also love when couples wait to see each other before at ceremony for an “aisle reveal”. There is definitely no right or wrong way to spend your wedding day. But as a New Jersey wedding photographer, I do have some wedding planning tips for you! When deciding whether to have a first look or not, couples often think it comes down to “breaking tradition” or not. There is actually more to it than that though! Even if you are initially drawn to the idea of seeing each other down the aisle for the first time, you may find that you like the idea of spending cocktail hour with your guests more. Don’t worry, I am going to breakdown the timeline logistics here!
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of photographing many weddings around New Jersey and New York. Whether you choose to see each other before the ceremony or not, I always want my couples to get exactly what they want. It’s my job to guide you, but you should always feel excited about what you choose. In today’s post, I am going to breakdown what having a first look (or not) looks like on your wedding day.
What is the difference between a first look and an aisle reveal?
First, in case you are not familiar with the “wedding lingo”, let me break down the difference between a first look and an aisle reveal. A “first look” is when you break tradition and see each other before the wedding ceremony. On the other hand, an aisle reveal is when you first see each other walking down the aisle. You can also choose to have something “in between”. I’ve seen couples exchanging letters, holding hands, or sharing a prayer before the wedding ceremony without officially seeing each other. Don’t be afraid to find something “in between” that works for you.
First Look Wedding Timeline
When you have a first look, you have a lot more freedom in your wedding day timeline. Typically, my couples will take their first look wedding photos, couple portraits and photos with their wedding party all before the ceremony. Depending on how large your family is, you can also do all of the family wedding photos before the ceremony. What this means, is by the time your wedding ceremony comes around, the “work” is over. Then you can enjoy feeling full present on your wedding day. When you get photos done before the ceremony, you can head straight to cocktail hour. This way, you get to enjoy more time with your guests! This advantage alone is enough to make more traditional couples reconsider a first look.
Wedding Day Timeline with an Aisle Reveal
If you don’t plan on seeing each other before the wedding ceremony, there are other options. It doesn’t have to be an “all of nothing” kind of thing. You can always consider holding hands or saying a prayer before together. Exchanging letters is popular during getting ready photos as well. When planning an aisle reveal, make sure to leave enough time after the ceremony to take all the wedding photos. Depending on how many photos you want, this can end up being quite a large chunk of time for your other guests (who aren’t in the photos). Don’t get me wrong – this definitely is not the end of the world. You should choose to do what YOU want on your wedding day – that’s just something you may want to consider.
Considering the timeline, I always ask couples how relaxed they want the day to be. An aisle reveal can leave the day feeling a bit more rushed than a first look timeline. With a traditional timeline, it can feel like you are jumping from the ceremony to photos to your reception. It usually feels more relaxed to “get the photos out of the way”.
Deciding to have a first look or not
Next, I want to address one of the biggest misconceptions about having a first look. While you might feel like it will “take away” from feeling those emotions while you walk down the aisle. In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As a former bride who chose to have a first look, I still teared up walking down the aisle. Having a first look just allows you to have a more private moment between just the two of you. Even if you don’t have a first look, I recommend scheduling a moment for just the two of you anyway!
First Look Wedding Photos
Often, couples will originally want to have a traditional aisle reveal and then change their mind closer to the day. It can be very emotional to see your partner for the first time on your wedding day. When you do this in front of a group of people (whether you have a guest list of 200 or a micro wedding of 10), it can be a lot of pressure to react in the right way. If you want to just feel your feelings in an authentic way without pressure, I generally recommend a first look. That way, you can ugly cry if you want to. OR – embrace each other instead of standing tall at an altar. When it’s just the two of you, you can lean into what feels right in the moment.
Booking your Wedding Photographer
You don’t have to do any of this alone. As your wedding photographer, I am always so happy to share wedding planning advice from my experience. I want to help you have the wedding day (and photos) that you want. Whether you have a first look or an aisle reveal, we can work together to create a day of timeline that makes you feel ready and excited for the day. Regardless of if you have a first look or not, I always recommend sneaking away for a couple of sunset portraits with just the wedding couple. Just a quick extra tip! To learn more about my wedding planning photography packages, check out my services here. If you are ready to save your date (or have more questions) – contact me here to get started!
Thank you SO much for this article.. we were so torn on this decision, and you made it simple in a matter of seconds. My philosophy is to always do what’s the least stressful and having a relaxed timeline is going to be our way to go!
You’re very welcome! That’s a great philosophy!