The 1st Look

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Just you reading this means you are curious and have an open mind about the possibility of doing a 1st look. Rest assured, I am not here to try and convince you to do one if you don’t want to. I only want my couples to know they have the option and it could be very beneficial. They are just not for everyone and simply may not even be necessary. This article is about having a great wedding experience & getting awesome photographs in a non-stressful way and how a 1st look could help with that.

What is a 1st Look?

A 1st look is a private moment between the bride and groom when they get to see each other before the ceremony. It’s up to you who you have around for this, if anyone, apart from the photographers. We shoot from a distance to give you your intimate moment together in a day that will fly by all to quickly. To really give this the intimate setting you are looking for, we recommend to not have anyone else present. This is what makes it so special verses the traditional way of walking down the isle and having all eyes on the couple. The couple may be more aware of this and really bottle up those emotions. During a first look, it’s easier to just let go and show what you are truly feeling with your very best friend.

The Pros

More time spent together on your wedding day – Without a 1st look, the couple doesn’t get to see each other until ceremony time. The day starts early with hair and makeup, some hang time with family and friends, we do some portraits, and then you finally get to see your love at 6 or 7pm, followed by lots of rushing and photos and congratulations and speeches and cake… and the night is over in 4 hours. The day will fly by so fast, so just imagine if you got to spend more of the day with your best friend… your wedding day!

Lighting – If you are having an evening ceremony, or it’s winter and the sun sets early, a 1st look will allow us to shoot all of your romantic portraits together while there is still beautiful light! Otherwise, all of your portraits may need flash and just doesn’t look the same. You chose me because you like my work and all the portraits you see are naturally lit.

Time – If you want to go straight to your reception after the ceremony, 1st look it is! A 1st look usually works like this:

  • 1st look (5min)
  • portraits of bride and groom (15-30 minutes)
  • portraits of wedding party (30 minutes)
  • portraits of family (20-30 minutes)
  • ceremony
  • reception

…or you can save just the family photos for after the ceremony if that is easier since everyone will be in one place.

Be more present during the ceremony – One common misconception is that it makes the moment you see each other at the ceremony, less impactful. Truth is, the reality of what they are doing still hits them and we often see tears here too. So this tells us it is still a beautiful and powerful moment. We suspect it takes the edge off some so the couple can soak up the ceremony a little more.

Rachel and GT chose to do a 1st look for a couple of good reasons. First, the Methodist church had very strict rules on photography. We were only allowed at the back of the church and could not move…at all. So they really wanted that moment when they first laid eyes on each other to be documented. They really loved the added benefit of being able to do their portraits with their wedding party at a beautiful bed and breakfast, then go to the church, have the ceremony, take a few family portraits at the church after and then immediately go to the reception, instead of taking an hour long photo session. If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you have a taste of how exhausting the day can be. It’s really nice to be able to go have fun after all that stress’n over the ceremony is done! Both Nicole + Cory and Stephanie + Jamie opted for a 1st look. They had been in weddings before and knew they wanted to go eat, drink and be merry right after the ceremony. Here, you can see some shots pulled back, so you can see how far away we are. It was magical!

The Cons – well, maybe just one con…

If time is not an issue, if a 1st look is not for you or you believe in keeping traditions, then don’t do one. If you can’t come up with any good reason why you should and you don’t see any real benefit to doing one, then don’t. I shoot plenty of weddings without doing a 1st look and they are awesome too!


Speaking from personal experience, I did not do a 1st look. Surprised? Well, I wanted to, I just couldn’t convince my hubby. He wanted the first time he saw me to be when I walked down the isle. Who could argue with that? My wedding was everything I wanted, but I think it would have been nice to have done a 1st look and get to spend more time with him. The ceremony went by in a blur. It was as if I floated down that isle with everyone staring at me and I did not want to get that ugly cry face, so I held it together. I spent 4 hours of my wedding day with my husband…way too short!

So, is a 1st look for you? Start the discussion. See if it’s something you both want and if it makes sense for your wedding. You may get some blowback from parents who want to keep things traditional. You just need to do what you want on your wedding day and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks you should do.

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