First Look Explained & 3 Reasons Why You Should Do One

By | July 12, 2016 | Wedding Advice

Here you are. Months into wedding planning and everything is coming together. You’ve chosen a beautiful venue, written the ceremony, selected your caterer, and found the perfect band that will get everyone dancing. Now you’re thinking about the photography timeline for your wedding day and you keep stumbling across this phrase – First Look. So let’s start with the first question you may have:

What the Heck is a First Look?!

A first look is a private moment between you and your partner taken before the ceremony. It’s a nice way to see and be with each other before the whirlwind of the ceremony and reception happens. Most couples will also take that time to do portraits by themselves, with the wedding party and immediate family.

But a first look is not a must have for your wedding day. If you feel strongly about seeing your significant other for the first time as you walk down the aisle – that is more than OK. There are pros and cons to either decision and there is no right or wrong one. And part of my job as your wedding photographer is to help you make the right choice for you. So here are my top 3 reasons on why a first look might be the best fit for you and your partner.

Bride and groom during first look at Laurel Creek Manor wedding
Bride and groom during first look at Laurel Creek Manor wedding

No Nerves

When I first saw my husband on our wedding day, I didn’t realize how anxious I was. Yet when he turned around and looked at me all nerves disappeared and I immediately relaxed. Sometimes I have couples that are not excited to be the ultimate center of attention when they’re walking down the aisle. They find seeing their partner before the ceremony dilutes any jitters they may have. If you think you might be nervous or apprehensive before the ceremony a first look is a great option to help you relax. It allows for a few calm moments with your partner before the day starts to take off.

Bride and groom during first look before Melrose Market Studios wedding in Seattle, WA
Bride and groom during first look before Melrose Market Studios wedding in Seattle, WA
Bride and groom during first look before Melrose Market Studios wedding in Seattle, WA

Timeline & Portraits

There’s no doubt that having a first look makes for an easier timeline. Since you’ve opted to see each other before the ceremony you can take portraits with each other, with your wedding party and your family prior to walking down the aisle. There will be no need to wrangle anyone after the ceremony and cocktail hour can be spent mingling with your guests.


Check out a more detailed breakdown of a wedding timeline here!

Bride and groom during first look before wedding at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo, WA
Bride and groom during first look before Lord Hill Farms wedding in Washington

Alone Time

Wedding days are hectic. You spend a lot of time getting ready, socializing, eating, and dancing. And all throughout the craziness you can sometimes not get to spend any moments alone with your partner. The first look allows you to relax and enjoy some time together without any distractions.

Bride and groom during first before wedding at Swan Trail Farms in Snohomish, WA

So let me reiterate. There is no right or wrong answer to to the question of “should we do a first look.” I’ve photographed weddings both with and without one and they all end up with great photos. But some questions to consider are:

How would you like to see each other for the first time on your wedding day? With a lot of people or in private?

Do you think you’ll be really nervous before the ceremony?

How do you want to spend your cocktail hour? Socializing? Taking photos? Alone with your new spouse?

Take some time with your partner (maybe over a beer or two) and discuss what’s important to you. And remember you can always talk to your photographer about what would be the best decision for you!

Are you or did you have a first look on your wedding day? Do you wish you had or hadn’t? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


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