Wide Open-To first look or not to first look…..- NJ Wedding Photographer

So I have been wanting to do a few post for future couples that help them make a decision on photography related topics for a while now and with wedding season over now is the time!! This post is geared towards a “First Look”.

So what’s a first look? Well basically instead of seeing your bride or groom at the alter for the first time you schedule a moment to see each other before hand! I know what you’re thinking….but you want him to have a reaction as he see’s you walking down the aisle and it’s more romantic and it’s tradition. Trust me I totally understand I also did not do a first look at my wedding BUT I also gave plenty of time for photos after the ceremony. This is when although I don’t like to push a first look on couples I do feel as your photographer it’s important to inform you of your options and why I feel it may be a good decision. With all my couples I create a super detailed timeline of your wedding day photography wise (trust me it is down to the minute, that’s my event planner background in me haha) and while I am creating this it gives me a good idea of how much time I will have to work with family photos, bridal party and of course the couple.  I make my suggestions of the layout of the day and work with each couple so that we are all on the same page! I usually bring up the first look option when I notice that I am being given about an hour including travel time in that hour to take all family photos, bridal party photos and couple photos. This usually tends to happen mostly when everything takes places at the same venue. You would think hey that makes it easier, but in actuality no it doesn’t:(sorry. Yes it makes it easier because no travel is involved but your going to miss your entire cocktail hour and so are your family and bridal party pretty much and let me tell you cocktail hour is one of the best parts of your wedding day and also a time for you to relax before the reception begins. Also most of the time a couple will tell me they woudl like to attend their cocktail hour even if for 15-20 minutes which means ok you cut down your photo time from 1 hour to about 30 minutes although it can be done it will not produce the same amount of images or variety as giving your photographer more time.

Queue the first look option! Lets say your ceremony starts at 2pm, we would probably schedule your first look for about 11:30. You see each other just the two of you and trust me after doing a few this year it’s very emotional and also a moment for just the two of you two talk and catch up before the madness of your day begins! First look takes about 15 minutes or so and from there we can start with family photos and I like to have one person assigned to organize everyone and those I can usually do in about 15-20 minutes! So now it’s 12:10pm we start with your Bridal party about 30minutes or less, we move onto the most important you and your wife/husband to be! It’s 12:40pm and I work with you both till about 1:25pm a good 45 minutes to an hour is ideal and we are done! By around 1:30pm you can go relax before ceremony starts and guess what we are done! After the ceremony you get to go hang out and eat and family is all done and if you need additional extended family photos they can be taken at cocktail hour or earlier if you coordinate with them. See, doesn’t that seem so much more relaxing……yes it does admit it 😉 Unlike the other scenario where i have less then an hour to work all that into 45 minutes it’s very hectic on the couple, family and bridal party and my goal for 2013 is to try and avoid that because honestly I want to give you a great experience!!

Now let’s talk about not having a first look, which is totally fine but you gotta give me time please!! If photography is important to you which i hope it is because it’s all that is left after the day is over then I hope you take this into consideration:). If you rather not to a first look that is fine no worries but here is my recommendation when planning out your day. So lets say ceremony again is at 2pm two different locations for ceremony/reception, ceremony is an hour long over by 3pm. you do a receiving line, oh your not doing one? Right that’s what they all say except trust me your a magnet on wedding day you will some how end up saying hi to everyone outside and they just keep on coming so I say do the receiving line or if you don’t allow me to whisk you away ASAP after you walk out away from view! Receiving line usually takes about 20-30 minutes I know it sounds crazy but it does, So ceremony and receiving is over by 330pm, usually family photos are done there and that takes about 15-20 minutes, now it’s 4pm we leave for photos of bridal party and couple. Consider driving time let’s say its 20 minutes away now it’s 430pm with traffic lol , it would be great to have at least an 1.5 to 2 hours to work with everyone so plan a cocktail hour to start at 7pm or if you don’t mind missing cocktail hour start it at 6pm. I know it’s a big gap between ceremony and reception but guest can go to the hotel and hang out or to a local bar, don’t worry they find things to do. Our wedding day started at 3:30pm ceremony and 7pm cocktail hour, my parents actually hosted a little food and drink for in between at their home which was nice but most went to the hotel to relax.

Below are some images from first looks this year, I am growing to really love them and recommend them. But it is your day and you do what you want, I am only recommending what may work best for a stress free day but I can work with what you give me. I just hope this is an informative post to help you see why it may be taken into consideration. If i feel it may be an option I will provide you with two timelines one without first look and one with and you can from there decide what works best for you both! I am there to please my couples and do what they want but I like to provide  a little guidance that is all:)Hope this helps!!

One very important thing to also consider when thinking of a first look, these work great for weddings in the fall when daylight savings time occurs. Remember to keep this in mind unless you want all your photos in the dark or inside! Sunlight is limited in the fall and winter so this is always always a good option!:)  and if you have children in your wedding party it’s also good to consider because they will get tired fast so better to do their photos early! Ok I am done! Thanks for reading…




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