First look photos: Should you do them?
I get it. When brides used to ask me if we should do a first look, I'd try to figure out any way to avoid it. I totally loved the traditional vision of big church doors opening and the groom seeing his bride for the first time at the end of the aisle. But aside from the fact that most of my shoots aren't actually church weddings, there's a few reasons a first look is a good idea. (Disclaimer: I'm not knocking the traditional way. I still love shooting those pictures, too.)
Some couples get wedding day jitters with all the buzzing going on around. It's okay. It's a lot of people and a lot of things to keep track of, even if you're getting help. Seeing your significant other could take away some of that stress -- wouldn't it be nice to see the one person who makes everything okay before the day gets even more crazy?
Everything is fresh
Even if you hired one of the best hair and makeup artists in LA, all the scurrying and moving around will make it wear off a little. Doing a first look earlier in the day guarantees that everything (i.e. your dress, curls and airbrushed cheeks) is clean and still in tact for the pictures.
If your ceremony and reception are at the same place, chances are the former will go right into the latter. This leaves little to no time for portraits and formals, especially if there's going to be a lot of them. Even if there is a break between the two, you could risk missing your cocktail hour and not spending as much time as you'd like with your guests.
Depending on where you want to do your formals, daylight could play a big part in this decision, too. Waiting until after the ceremony could mean pictures are taken after it gets dark. While photographers can always make it work, consider if that's what you want.
Not only for couples
Keep in mind that first looks aren't only limited to the couple. I've done many first looks with dads, moms, and friends seeing their friends for the first time after all the preparations. Some are staged and some aren't. All of them are great.
One intimate moment
The day will go into hyperdrive and you'll be surrounded by friends and family the whole time. A first look could be the only true moment you have together, just the two of you, before the end of the night. And it is your day, after all.
That being said, don't feel pressure to create some emotional moment if that's just not your jam. You don't have to cry, or exclaim, or do anything if you don't want. Just smile (or don't), be yourself, and let everything happen naturally.
At the end of the day, it's not about the pictures; it's about how you feel. And when you feel good, the pictures will be good, too.