At least in my experience, the most stressful and often rushed part of a wedding day is Cocktail Hour. Why is that?
Cocktail Hour is the time after the ceremony and before the Reception begins when the formal photos are shot. The guests mingle, eat horderves and get drinks at the bar while the wedding party and family get their photos done.
Timing is key to getting what is needed throughout the wedding day so I always make a plan going in and make sure that when Cocktail Hour hits I've got my pre-determined list of family photos ready to go and also an idea of how to go about the bridal party photos. Even with being as prepared as possible things can always take longer than expected which often leaves me with 5 minutes to take photos of the two stars of the show before they have to get ready for introductions. Not my favorite scenario! I always try to get photos before the ceremony of the girls and guys separately to lighten the load during cocktail hour but sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn't.
So the 'First Look'... What is it and why should we consider it?
The First Look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony and opt to get most of their formal photos done ahead of time. From my point of view this is great as that leaves cocktail hour open to grab any shots we didn't get before and often to tackle family photos. This in turn gives me time to get more candids and detail shots before introductions. Obviously the more time I have to work the more photos a couple will get and without being overly rushed.
As a bride and groom why would we want to do this other than having it benefit the photographer?
The First Look is obviously based on personal preference and whether that fits in with your grand vision for the day. Often seeing the bride walking down the aisle at the ceremony is the only option and I totally respect that. On the other hand as the years have gone on I've found that couples are more and more interested in the first look for a couple of reasons:
- They think the first look is more intimate and gives them some time to spend together quietly before the whirlwind of the day takes them away.
- They would rather spend their cocktail hour mingling with their guests than spending the whole time grinding through formal photos.
- They understand that the time of day will make photos better earlier if their ceremony is scheduled later in the afternoon with the sun going down quickly afterwards.
I've found that first looks have generally been more popular in the later months due to this third reason. When October hits the sun goes down quickly in the afternoon so that alone often sways people in that direction when they are otherwise unsure of whether they want to go the 'first look' route or not.
First Looks have certainly become more practical in recent years and it's easy to see why. They are more time efficient, they reduce cocktail hour stress and allow for some time together alone before they get swept up in the craziness of their wedding day.
As a photographer, I believe the first look is the way to go but as a couple I completely understand how it can go either way. Talk with your fiance and see what you think!