Want to see each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle? It's ok to say no to a first look. There are thousands of articles to read about why a first look makes sense (and I am sure you have read more than a few of them), but there are also reasons why a first look might not make sense for you. First and foremost, because your heart whispers, "no," and that's the only reason you need.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the benefits of a first look. You can read all about that here. While first looks are trendy right now, and certainly make it easier to attend cocktail hour, it's perfectly ok to be traditional and not see each other before the ceremony.
Many couples worry that their decision will effect their ability to enjoy cocktail hour, limit their interaction with guests, and also take away from reception fun. Can you have it all without a first look? It's possible with some creative timeline planning.
Here's a few ideas to help you have it all:
1. If you are having a church wedding, schedule a break in between your ceremony and your cocktail hour.
This timeline means that their will be a gap between the time you say "I Do" and the time your venue allows guests to arrive. I bet you are wondering what the guests will do with all that free time? They'll figure it out, I promise! When you send out your invitations, include a map or a list of local attractions. Historic spots, popular bars, museums, parks, and ice cream shops are all fabulous locations for the guests to visit while you take your portraits.
Bonus Tip: Have your graphic designer (or artist you find on etsy) make the map or list cute and personal. It's thoughtful and sure to make your guests smile.
2. Having your ceremony and reception in the same location? Schedule an extended cocktail hour. The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is feel like you are rushing through portraits. They should be relaxed and enjoyable! Make sure cocktail hour is at least 90 minutes so you can make the tail end!
3. Do both! Scheduling a break and an extended cocktail hour ensures that you make most, not just some, of your cocktail hour!
Worried that some of the guests might think an extended cocktail hour is too long? Have an infused water station, lawn games for your guests to enjoy and/or hire a really great acoustic band to keep them entertained.
4. Save additional time by scheduling some of the formal portraits before the ceremony. You will be amazed at just how many portraits you can get done without one another. The groomsman, the bridesmaids and many of the family groupings can be taken before the ceremony so that your portrait time is cut in half later.
5. Skip formalities like the receiving line and you will have more time for portraits before the reception starts.
6. The time of year you get married will impact how your portrait timeline needs to be scheduled. If you are getting married late June through late August, the sunset is late (between 7:30-8:30), which gives you additional time to sneak out of the reception for portraits. As long as the forecast allows, we can save most of your couple portraits for golden hour, which translates to more cocktail hour time!
If you are getting married in the winter months, creativity will definitely come into play. When the sun sets at 4:30, natural light portraits all have to be scheduled before 4pm. Your ceremony will need to be scheduled early if you don't opt for a first look.
The good news is, it's YOUR day! Which means, you can create a schedule that allows you to have it all! You don't have to do a first look AND if we get a little creative, you can make cocktail hour! Regardless of what you ultimately decided about just how out of the box you want your timeline to be, following your heart will always make you happy. Just ask any of the "traditional timeline" couples featured in this post! :)