Wedding Day Timeline: First Look

We’ve arrived at part two of our Wedding Day Timeline Series. Last week, we covered how to make the morning of your wedding day enjoyable and worry-free. Remember; plan extra time for everything, minimize travel time, let go of the small things and don’t forget to eat! If you missed that blog, read it now!

This week, we are covering how to work your first look and your portrait session into your wedding day timeline. Although we don’t like to push our couples one way or the other, we do feel there are many benefits of doing a first look and I’ve even written an entire post dedicated to why we feel this way. On the other hand, it’s not for everyone. If you are totally against it, read no further (or, just read for fun). We will cover your other options next week!

There are several different ways to coordinate this time of your day and it really depends on where you want to do your first look. Thinking about your first look with your soon-to-be husband/wife should be a fun part of planning your wedding day! Is there a location nearby that is special to you, or a shared hobby you could incorporate? One of the reasons we love getting to know Swatch Couples during planning and engagement sessions is to help with these details. Whether it be hiding behind a bundle of balloons, walking around a corner, or simply closing your eyes until you are face to face, we love helping our couples craft a special moment that is uniquely them.

Incorporating a first look into your day may sound a bit hectic (tracking the location of your groom, hiding behind trees or walls of bridesmaids to avoid being seen), but with a little planning and help from the bridal party it will go off without a hitch. Be sure to plan exactly what time both bride and groom will be arriving, as well as exact locations. You don’t want that moment taken away because you parked next to one another!

Whether you are meeting at the ceremony site or a park nearby, make sure you plan ample time to get to the location and have everyone in place. If you can’t walk to the location, account for potential traffic, and if you don’t have a shuttle, see if a family member who is not in the wedding party can drop you off so you don’t have to stress about parking.

The wonderful thing about a first look is that you can enjoy it for as long as you want, but I would suggest allowing for at least 15-20 minutes (not including travel time), to make sure it doesn’t feel rushed. Take a moment to focus on one another and let the photographers capture the raw, honest emotion and excitement.

To incorporate your first look into your wedding day timeline, start working backward through the day about 20 minutes before your ceremony begins (so you have time to hide out beforehand). For example, if your ceremony is at 4pm, start working on your timeline from 3:40pm. Then subtract the time you have allocated for your portrait and bridal party session, your first look, getting ready, and any travel time. Don’t forget to consider adding a little extra time here and there for bathroom breaks or additional primping before photos.

Doing a first look at our wedding was a no-brainer. We were able to finish all of our photos before the ceremony, relax and enjoy the time with our bridal party and cut right to the celebrating after our ceremony. Here’s a look at the Clayton Wedding timeline:

9:00am Girls start getting ready

11:00am Guys start getting ready

12:30pm Diana puts dress on

1:00pm First look, portraits and bridal party session

4:10pm End all pictures, arrive at ceremony site

4:30pm Ceremony

As you can see, we had nearly three hours between our first look and the start of our ceremony. Although this might not work for everyone's timeline, I loved how much time we had to take relaxed photos and get a sneak peek of the reception decor. We were even able to do a mini photo shoot on the rooftop of The Blarney before sneaking back into the ceremony space just before guests started to arrive. Here are a few photos from the wonderful Wayfarers Photography.

As you plan your timeline and your first look, keep in mind the details that are the most important to you, and even consider adding in free time where nothing is scheduled. This will ensure bride, groom, and bridal party have a relaxed and fun day! And if you're still not convinced, here are a few more images that show the excitement, love and joy that has been shared during a first look many times before.