That is the question.
If you’re on the fence about having a first look or not, let me try to convince you to do it…
Some couples know right off the bat that they want to have a first look. Either the groom knows he’s going to be super emotional and doesn’t want to cry in front of everyone (spoiler alert, even with a first look he could STILL cry at the ceremony) or they know they want to have more time to enjoy their cocktail “hour” without being stressed about getting pictures done and having starving friends and family.
Some couples are hesitant because they don’t want to ruin that special moment of the groom seeing his bride walk down the aisle for the very first time. There are plenty of ways to preserve that special moment, while still having a first look and getting a big chunk of bridal party pictures out of the way before hand.
I like to set up the first look so it’s just the two of you and it’s only you in your dress. Saving your veil and bouquet for the ceremony helps him to see you in a new light so he can still be just as star struck.
Cocktail hour ideally shouldn’t be any longer than 45 minutes. Unless you have games or a photo booth or some other way to entertain your guests, some of them are going to get pretty bored (and hungry). I like to take about 30 minutes for newlywed portraits. These are the pictures you’re going to print and hang up in your home. You won’t necessarily want to stare at a 16×20 print of Aunt Linda and Uncle Steve along with your parents and siblings and all your cousins. You WILL however want to hang a 16×20 print of you and your man doing a dip kiss under the most romantic southern oaks and Spanish moss (trust me, you will.)
Depending on the size of the bridal party, it usually takes about 15-20 minutes to knock those pictures out, and depending on the size of your families it can take up to 30 minutes to get all those shots taken care of. It also depends on how cooperative everyone is. If people are paying attention and listening and following directions, we can also knock them out more quickly.
I always joke that my math skills only went up to 3rd grade (because that’s the highest grade I taught), but if you’re following along with me… 30+20+30=80 minutes. Keep in mind there’s only 60 minutes in an hour… a cocktail hour.
Of course we can shave some time off by paring down the groupings, doing less fun and memorable shots with your bridal party, and not capturing as many newlywed portraits, but this is your big day. Hopefully you won’t be doing this again. We need to make sure that you remember it!
By doing a first look and getting at least one of those series of pictures out of the way ahead of time (preferably the bridal party shots), you’re leaving more time for you to enjoy your cocktail hour. I want to get you to that open bar ASAP!
December 12, 2021