The Upside of the "First Look"

Why should couples choose a first look? 

Many of my couples ask me whether or not they should have a first look. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering the same thing. In my professional opinion, I think they are an excellent idea. I love first looks. I know that they are a tad bit "untraditional", but let me take a moment or two to explain the benefits of a first look.

First look durango colorado wedding


1.      Your wedding day will be crazy busy. No getting around it. You have so much to do and so little time to do it in. If you have a first look, it helps to calm down the day a bit. Instead of trying to rush around to get everyone together and have pictures taken between the wedding ceremony and reception while your guests are waiting, you’ll have that time to relax and enjoy your guests and best of all, be stress-free! 


2.      We can do all of the main portraits before the ceremony even begins – at the very least, the bride and groom and if we can swing it, bridal party photos.  An added bonus is that your hair and makeup are still perfect, as they were just finished.


3.      A first look also gives you a very special, intimate moment with your new spouse. If you are nervous or stressed out, this will especially help to relax you, and your spouse can comfort you and let you know it will all be OK. During the ceremony, there are many people around and you can’t fully take in the moment because everyone is staring at you. With a first look, that moment is just between you and your spouse (and your photographers, of course).


4.    We can still fit in some night time or sunset photos towards the end of the night. And even have a few moments after the ceremony as well. First looks do not have to limit us but they are a huge asset during a busy wedding day. Case in point: I had a couple opt-in for a first look at the last minute and I am so happy that they did because the receiving line and formal photos took much longer than expected and in the end, there was no time for the bride and groom. But all was well because we had those first look photos!  (see image below)

There is a timing element to consider with the first look: if your first look will be used as your bridal portraits as well (not just the surprise and then off and away again), and you would like full reception coverage and full getting ready coverage, you may need to book the photographer for longer than expected. The first look usually adds time to the beginning of the day, even if it saves a little time later. I have found at least 1 hour is added,l as the bride and groom must be ready earlier.

Example Timeline:

1:00 Photographers arrive, getting ready and detail photos

2:30 First look, bridal photos, bride and groom

4:00 Ceremony

4:30 Group photos

5:30 Cocktail hour, grand entrance

6:00 Dinner

7:00 Toasts

7:30 Cake

8:00 First dances

8:30 Sunset photos

9:00 more dancing/ tosses

10:00 Sparkler Exit

10:30 Photographers leave

Total - 9.5 hours of photography

first look wedding photos durango colorado


If you decide that you want to forego the first look, that’s totally fine, too!

Here are the minimum times you will need to schedule out for photos after the ceremony:

1. For family formals, you will need 30 to 45 minutes depending on your family size.

2. You will need 30 minutes to an hour for bride and groom portraits and 20-30 minutes for your bridal party pictures, depending on the number of people in your party.

3. If you are taking photos off location, you will have to gather everything and everyone together and transport it. It is a good idea to designate a friend or someone who is not going to be in photos to do this for you to save time.

4. Keep in mind that it is super hard to keep family, friends, and bridal party members together and all in one place after the ceremony, especially if it is a large party. For that reason, you need to allow some extra bubble time in case someone goes missing.

These are the minimum times. If you have more people in your family and bridal party photos, you may want to add some more time.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.

Durango Colorado Photographers Blog - Alexi Hubbell Photography