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The Benefits of Doing a First Look

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Doing a first look can be a bit controversial….

                               …….especially here in the South.

However, there are some REALLY good reasons to do a first look on the day of your wedding!

What IS a “first look”?

Traditionally, the first time a groom is supposed to see his beautiful bride on the day of their wedding is the MOMENT she walks down the aisle. In fact, an old wives’ tale says that it’s bad luck for the groom to even lay eyes on his bride on their wedding day before the ceremony starts.

I’ve photographed enough weddings that this secrecy takes a lot of effort and communication!

A first look is a private, planned meeting of the bride and groom at a specific time before their wedding ceremony.

There are so many good things that happen because of a first look:

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(1) The bride and groom enjoy several intimate, once-in-a-lifetime moments together.

When the groom sees his bride coming down the aisle, there are about three seconds of pure wonder on his face…..and the the ceremony takes place.

Really, most wedding ceremonies are very quick. And then the couple is whisked off to do a million pictures. Except for a few words here and there, they may not actually get to have a full conversation until they leave the reception venue.

However, the only people present at a first look are the bride and groom + the photographers. The initial meeting is photographed in a very photojournalistic style. Aside from setting the couple up in the beginning, the photographers will let the two see each other and interact in a very natural way.

Some couples choose to exchange wedding gifts during this time.

Often, there’s a lot of laughter. Sometimes there are tears! If the bride needs her make-up retouched after the first look, the make-up artist is usually still around to help her.

I think the BEST part of this is that the bride and groom are able to savor the time and share their experiences of the day so far. This eases tension and relaxes them before the ceremony.

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(2) Almost all of the formal portraits for the bride and groom can be photographed before the ceremony.

After they have several private moments together, we have time to do formal portraits of the bride and groom.

The bride’s make-up and hair are still very fresh. If the ceremony is very hot and/or windy, this can be critical!

The bride and groom’s portraits will turn out better because they are more relaxed, and there’s simply more time.

The lighting (and often the setting) for the bride and groom’s portraits taken at the end of their first look will match what is done for the rest of the bridal party. If you plan to have your images displayed in an album, this can be super important.

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(3) Almost all of the formal portraits of the wedding party can be taken BEFORE the ceremony.

This straight up saves time.

You don’t have to keep your guests waiting, and waiting, and waiting to start the reception.

Family/extended family portraits still need to take place directly after the ceremony. However, your wedding party portraits will be complete!

It’s also insurance against inclement weather. I’ve had situations before when I was unable to get the bride in a formal portrait outside after the ceremony because it started to rain. The formal portraits after the ceremony under a shelter simply did not match the gorgeous ones we took outside earlier during the day.


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(4) A first look frees the bride and groom to steal away for sunset portraits.

When a newly married couple is able to spend more time with their guests because most of their portraits were taken in advance, this makes them feel OK about stealing away from the reception later on to do sunset portraits. These can be relaxed because they are a “bonus.” They already have many beautiful images from their earlier session. These are just icing on the cake!

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Still want to have a traditional “first look” down the aisle?

I absolutely respect that. It is YOUR wedding, and you should do what’s best for you and your guests. Thank you for even thinking about an alternative.

Another variation of this is for a bride to do a first look with her father. Her mother is usually with her throughout the getting ready process. But when her daddy sees her for the first time as a bride, it’s a very special thing!

I photographed a father/daughter first look at the wedding seen HERE.

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