First Looks: Why they are Worth It! – Wedding Wednesday

January 4, 2023

Are you looking for a way to not only add some romantic moments to your wedding day but also to reduce stress AND get more portraits?   Read on to see why a First Look can be one of the best moments of your wedding day!

In over 14 years of photographing wedding days, I’ve never heard a bride and groom say that they regret choosing to do a first look.  I know that this isn’t traditional and I would never pressure my couples to do a first look, but I do think it’s important for you to know the benefits of doing a first look so that you can make this very personal decision for yourselves.

First, do you know where the tradition of NOT seeing each other on the wedding day comes from?  This tradition started before the 18th century when arranged marriages were a thing.  Seeing the bride before the ceremony was considered “unlucky” but it was actually an attempt to keep the groom from backing out of the wedding.  Definitely a tradition with “less than romantic” origins!  This is also where the tradition of wearing a veil over the bride’s face comes from.  The groom wouldn’t see the bride’s face until the very end of the ceremony, right before they kiss – when it’s too late for him to back out.

Now, I know this isn’t why modern-day couples choose not to see each other before the ceremony.  I know that a lot of brides fantasize about that first moment when the groom is standing at the end of the aisle and watches her walk toward him, overcome with emotion, and who wouldn’t want that moment?  It’s your groom’s REACTION that you have been dreaming about for so long and many couples believe that doing a first look will take away from that reaction.   But imagine this:   you and your groom are in a beautiful, well-lit, private location.  His back is turned to you as you call his name and he turns around to see you for the first time.  You walk towards each other as tears well up in his eyes and you actually have time to embrace, talk to each other, pray together and just have a moment to yourselves to really soak at this moment.  Without the eyes of your entire guest list staring at you, you can actually enjoy the emotion of the moment privately!

Here are a few more reasons why I believe first looks are worth it:

  • More portraits – when you plan for a first look, you get more portrait time.  Rather than a few rushed minutes after your ceremony, when you are both anxious to head to the reception and start the party, you can take up to an hour before the ceremony to have a fun and relaxing portrait session.  Often, we also have time to get almost all of the family and bridal party photos are done before as well, so there is much less to do before the reception!  This also helps a lot during the late fall and winter when it gets dark early and sometimes the only time to get beautiful, natural-light photos is before the ceremony.

The collage below is just a sample of all the photos we were able to get done before the ceremony for Hailey and Luke’s wedding.  We had about an hour before the ceremony on a beautiful private property to do their first look along with all of the family formals and bridal party portraits.


  • Enjoy the surprise freely – you get more intimate time together and have time for your groom to actually be able to tell you how gorgeous you look!   When you see each other for the first time at the beginning of the ceremony, you won’t have time to speak to each other until 30 minutes, maybe over an hour later, once the ceremony is over!

  • Alone time – during a typical wedding day, you and your groom won’t have much (if any) alone time.  Those few rushed minutes together after the ceremony may even be watched by your family and friends (although I do my best to get everyone to leave so that you have some time alone together).  Doing a first look allows you much more time alone together.
  • Diminishes nerves – wedding days are stressful, but a first look is a great way to get rid of your nerves before the ceremony.   

Still unsure?   Here are some testimonials from real couples about why they chose to do a first look and how they felt about it during and after!

We’ve also had couples not only do a first look, but they chose to read their personal vows to each other before the ceremony.  The groom didn’t want to get emotional in front of their guests so they chose to have this moment alone before everything began.

“It was one of the best parts of the day. It was more special than the ceremony honestly. We had written our own vows and did those privately during our first look instead of on the altar. We are not the most social and crowd-loving people, and so having this moment together made it perfect”

“Mostly I wanted our first look to be just the 2 of us, not me and him and a whole church full of people. I was super nervous about walking down the aisle and doing the first look beforehand really helped take a bit of the nerve away. But it was also good for logistical purposes too. We got to do it in a beautiful outdoor location and then take lots of couples photos and pictures with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen together before the wedding. I don’t think we would have been able to squeeze them in otherwise.”

“We were both on the fence in the beginning. We both wanted to be surprised, but we also wanted more time for pictures. I also didn’t want to bawl my eyes out all the way down the aisle! Haha! So we decided together that a first look would work best for us.  My husband and I are more than happy with our decision to do a first look. It really helped ease our jitters and was one of only three times that we were able to be alone together to take in the day before our wedding was over. Doing a first look also allowed us more time to take pictures while waiting for the ceremony, so we didn’t lose out on too much reception time.”

If you still choose not to do a first look, there are still a few “newer” traditions that we have been seeing over the last several years that we really love and that you may want to include on your own wedding day.  Of course, there’s the daddy/daughter first look and the first look with your girls.   These are both moments that can add a lot of fun and sweetness to your day!

Or you can do a “first touch” where we can arrange for you and your groom to be near each other, without seeing each other, so that you can hold hands, pray and have a moment together before the ceremony without breaking tradition.

And finally, I mentioned above about reading vows to each other, but this can also be done without actually seeing each other.   We can arrange to keep the 2 of you back-to-back where you can either read your vows to each other out loud or just read them to yourselves while in the same room:

I hope that this has given you some things to think about and consider when trying to decide whether or not you want to do a first look.   While my preference is always to schedule a first look for photography purposes, it’s ultimately your choice and no matter what, we will work together to create a timeline that works to fit everything in!