Why or Why Not Have a First Look

There is a debate among wedding planners, couples, and photographers in regards to a first look. Some love the idea and others don't. What's your thought?


Over the last few years the idea of a first look has grown into a very common thing on a wedding day. And, believe it or not, there are some good reasons why!

From a bride's point of view...

That moment of excitement seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day in their dress, tux, or whatever your choice is, is a special moment. It only happens once. For some, it's best in a private and relaxed environment with just a few people. For others, it's a moment they want to share with everyone. There is no wrong answer!

One thing to consider is the emotions that come into play. We are all emotional people to some degree or another. Having a first look with the wedding couple prior to the ceremony offers a perfect time to allow those emotions, and maybe even tears, to flow naturally. It's a beautiful moment. Trying to control the emotions in front of a large crowd can be difficult.

From a photographer's point of view...

I am a firm believer in having a first look with the couple, and possibly even the father of the bride. I have several reasons. First, some of the most beautiful images on a wedding day can come from the first look experience. It enables me to plan a beautiful shot that won't happen in a controlled way if it's in the ceremony. The images are ALWAYS better!

Having a first look also allows us MUCH more flexibility the rest of the day. Time is a valuable resource on any wedding day. If the couple is hidden from each other all day prior to the ceremony, we lose valuable opportunities for images. We have many shots we must take during a wedding day. By doing a first look we are making more time available for the most important shots, the formal shots of the couple. For example, your wedding is at a particular venue, but you want your formal couples shots in a park 20 minutes from the venue. It's a great idea for stunning images, but you've added 40 minutes of time between the ceremony and the reception just for travel. Why not take those pictures earlier in the day and save that time between the ceremony and reception.

Doing a first look is always my preference if possible.

From the guest's point of view...

Really? Why the guests? You have a certain amount of time to be with your guests. Usually, that is the ceremony until the end of the reception. Time is a resource that is limited.

I personally don't want to keep the guests waiting any longer than is needed. Of course, guests understand there is a gap between the ceremony and reception for family photos, bridal party photos, and couples photos. But we can shorten that time by not having to do ALL of the photos in the space between those events. That means you'll have more time with your guests, and the guests probably hang around a little longer into the reception time.

What do most couples do?

The answer to that question has changed over the last 10 years of my experience as a wedding photographer. When I began, most couples were not doing a first look. Today, most couples are doing the first look. Still, not every couple, but for sure 80% of my couples do it.

Let's talk about it...

I've got some thoughts on helping you plan your wedding day timeline to get the most of our time together. I have some tips for you on both sides of the first look discussion and choice. The big thing to remember is that it's YOUR day! Do what feels right for you!

Share this story