What is a First Look?

So you may have heard of a “first look” from friends, bridal magazines and websites, or maybe even your photographer; but what is it really, and should you consider it? As with most things in life, there are pros and cons, and it is something that you should really understand before you make your final decision.


More time. Doing a first look provides more time for photos of the two of you together, as well as a less rushed feeling to all the formal photos. Waiting until after the ceremony can sometimes create a serious time crunch, or limit the types or amount of photos you can take. Cocktail hour may sound like plenty of time, but rallying family and friends for photos after the ceremony can take longer than you may think. This leaves little time for photos of the two of you alone.

More photos. A first look adds another special moment to be captured in photographs and adds to the story of your day.

Fewer Nerves. Some couples get nervous in front of 150 of their closest friends and family. Seeing each other before the ceremony releases some of those nerves in a more quiet setting.

More Privacy. Seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day is an emotional experience. Having this moment in a more private setting can make it easier to let your emotions run free. It is likely also the only time of the day that people will not be vying for your attention.

Time of day and location. If you are having an evening ceremony, and are doing all your photos after the ceremony, you may miss out on the beautiful late afternoon golden light. Taking photos after the ceremony also limits the distance you can be from the venues. Doing a first look provides a chance to get some sunshine pictures on the other side of town if you so choose.

Getting the party started. Doing a first look means many (or all) of the formal photos are done before the ceremony so that you can get right to your reception or cocktail hour after the ceremony. You will have more time to celebrate the day with friends and family.


Tradition. Even though first looks are becoming more popular, tradition still takes the show in about 75% of weddings today. Some may feel the moment of walking down the aisle is a bit anticlimactic once you have already seen each other. Also, some family members may not approve of the idea.

Starting earlier. Taking photos before the ceremony moves the timeline of the entire day up. This means hair and make-up will need to start earlier and you may need additional time with some of your vendors such as transportation, photography and videography.

Staging the moment. While the emotion is real, the process of a first look is planned out and staged. For some, this can sometimes make one of the most important moments of the day feel like an imitation.


Read up on the topic online and talk to friends that may have done one in their wedding. You may find that most people that do a first look have no regrets. If you still want to stick to tradition, but do want more time for photos of the two of you alone, consider an after session. This is a photography session done after your wedding, similar to an engagement session, but in your wedding attire. Of course, an after session also has pros and cons, but it is something to think about.