This past weekend I photographed a beautiful wedding on the campus of UVA. Christina and Ben are UVA grads and wanted to come back to their alma mater for their wedding. The weather was beautiful for a summer wedding with big puffy clouds, and a slight breeze. Christina and Ben decided to do a first look at their wedding, and I started thinking about the many benefits of couples choosing to do a first look (when you see each other before the ceremony and your photographer takes pictures of this moment) . Here's a list of 7 reasons why you might consider adding a first look into your wedding timeline:

1. It calms your nerves. You've put a lot of time, and effort into making your wedding day beautiful and inviting all of your guests. You want things to run smoothly and sometimes you might be a tad bit nervous. Seeing your bride or groom before the ceremony is a great way to calm your nerves. Who doesn't love a good hug from your soon to be wife or husband?!

2. You are able to see each other for the first time in a more private setting. If you decide to go with a traditional timeline you will see your groom as you are walking down the aisle. You might miss out on the opportunity to show your partner your true reaction to their amazing wedding attire, and in private you can let those tears roll if you need to! 

3. You don't have to worry about bumping into each other on accident before the ceremony. Sometimes it's a dance to make sure you do not see your bride or groom before your ceremony. Your maid of honor won't have to play 007 any more! 

4. You gain extra couple portrait time! After a first look you will take couple portraits. It's always nice to have more pretty pictures and lots of options!

5. Time for bridal party photos before the ceremony. After a first look you can take all your bridal party photos before the ceremony. You won't be rushed to get through these photos to get to your reception after the ceremony, because you've already had time to get these portraits! 

6. Time for family portraits. Some couples ask their family members to come before the ceremony to do family portraits- that's a great option. However even if you wait until after your ceremony to do family portraits you will have more time because you've already done a handful of bride and groom portraits, and your bridal party photos. You won't have to rush as much - yay! Always a plus on a wedding day!

7. You are able to attend your cocktail hour! Sometimes couples are able to attend a good portion of their cocktail hour and actually taste some of their hors d'oeuvres. This is so nice because you can mingle with your guests and say hi sooner. 

You will get more pretty portraits, and free up your timeline to spend more time with your guests if you decide to do a first look. I love first looks! But they aren't for every couple, and that's 100% okay. Although I do recommend a first look, I understand that the wedding tradition of seeing your bride for the first time walking down the aisle is special too!  

I'll leave you with some pictures from Christina and Ben's first look. This set of photos took less than 20 minutes total! First looks rock!