Should I Do a First Look?

“Should I do a first look at my wedding?” This is probably in the top three questions I get from couples. A lot of the time one person is team first look and the other person is not sold on the idea. “I really want to do a first look before the ceremony, but my fiance is against the idea. What should we do?” Let me give you my perspective and what 15 years of photographing weddings has taught me about the big debate between doing or not doing a first look at weddings.

Groom sees bride for first look before wedding

When I started photographing weddings first looks didn’t exist. You saw your significant other for the first time walking down the aisle and that was that. I remember when a couple first introduced the idea to me my knee jerk reaction was, “I don’t like it.” I am not entirely sure why I decided I didn’t love the idea, maybe because I had seen trends come and go and just figured this was just one of those things that we would look back in ten years and say to ourselves, “Why did we do this?!?” (Think selective color in photos- I’d show you some examples, but it is too cringe).

But I was converted. After photographing several first looks at weddings I became a big time fan. Why? Let me give you several reasons:

  1. The photos were amazing. So many different and unique things you can do with a first look and the pictures turned out incredible.
  2. The intimacy. Even if you have a huge wedding, the first look is an intimate moment between the couple. They get to see each other for the first time without anyone else present. They don’t have to share that moment.
  3. The nerves. When I tell you a wave of calm rushes over the couple after a first look, I am not kidding. I think I have heard, “I feel so much better!” from a bride or groom probably one hundred times after they did a first look.
  4. Retrospect. Not one single couple I’ve worked with has regretted it. Most of the time they agree that this was the best decision they could have ever made, that they felt so much better after, and that the ceremony was still just as special.
  5. The timeline. A lot of couples are opting for later ceremonies that move right into receptions. This is not possible without a first look. Traditionally you would need to have a ceremony earlier so that you could have several hours to take group and coupes photos before the reception started. While this is ok for the bridal party, it isn’t necessarily for the guests. It also tends to cost a bit more because you have to rent the space for longer and your wedding professionals (photo, DJ, etc.) need to be booked for more hours.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love photographing weddings without a first look. To each their own and if that works for you, do it! A wedding should be exactly what YOU want it to be. But I’m also here to say that first looks can be really great too if that is something you are considering.

Bride and groom first look

Usually when a couple is debating about doing a first look they are also wondering how their timeline will be affected. Below are two timelines with similar schedules, but one has a first look and another doesn’t. I think looking at these helps when trying to figure out how things fall into place.

And just for fun, here are a few more photos from first looks I have photographed at weddings in 2022!

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