First looks

Lets talk First Looks

Debating whether to break a tradition and see each other before the ceremony? As a Photographer, I tend to be on the side of saying ‘heck yes!’ to a first look, but there can definitely be pros and cons to the entire concept.

Taken at the Seelbach Hilton in Louisville KY

Taken at the Seelbach Hilton in Louisville KY

So, what is a first look?

A first look is a moment (typically before the ceremony) where a couple see each other for the first time on the wedding day. Generally speaking, it is pre-arranged with their wedding photographer in a spot set away from the rest of the festivities to capture that moment just between the two of them. I have also seen photos that are incredibly fun with the wedding party as part of the moment.


While some people make think it takes away from the big reveal while others find it private, intimate, and gets rid of the jitters. I tend to be an advocate for them, because after the ceremony I see busy newlyweds, hurrying to spend time with all the friends and family they have invited to celebrate with them, and not having any intimate moments to themselves during the reception. A first look can be a time to foster a moment of calm, togetherness and intimacy for the couple before the party gets started. Lets dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of this much debated moment.


As I said, couples should consider the first look for more than just the practicality of timing (we all know those stories of bridal portraits taking forever and drawing out the cocktail hour….a first look can eliminate some of that by having the couples portraits already out of the way!). It’s a great choice for couples who want to spend a quiet moment together before the ceremony. It’s a whirlwind once guests arrive, and having a first look gives you and your partner a few moments together before all of your family and friends surround you. Plus, if you are feeling pre-wedding jitters, having a first look and seeing your partner is a great way to ease that feeling.

A wedding is an intimate, emotional experience, and a first look means your photographer can capture a couple together , just the two of them, in that moment. Yes, walking down the aisle is emotional too, but you’re not together in those photographs (juuuuuuuuust saying).


If you’re traditional, it’s okay to skip it. First looks can build up the pressure. Some couples are very private with their emotions, and that is totally okay.

If there isn’t time in your timeline to transport you and your partner to the first look location, don’t force it. The rushing will take away from the opportunity for your photographer to capture meaningful moments, putting so much pressure on getting there during a time crunch could potentially cause stress, instead of relieving it. Your first look should be at least an hour before the ceremony so you can be finished before any early guests arrive, and if that doesn’t fit into your timeline, talk to your photographer about skipping it! As much of a fan as I am, a skilled photographer should be able to roll with the punches on the day of your wedding.

Your wedding planner can help guide you here, as well. If you have the ability to host a longer cocktail hour and are getting married on a day when there will be plenty of sunshine until later in the evening, there will be plenty of time to take photos together after you’ve tied the knot.

Ultimately, wether or not to have a first look is a choice that should be left to the couple. What are your thoughts on a first look? Do you plan on having one? Let me know in the comments!