Bride and groom talking with each other during their first look smiling at each other

Jan 19, 2023

Resources, Wedding Photography

What is a First Look?

Choosing whether or not to do a First Look is an important decision to make when planning your wedding day. On the surface, it’s a simple choice of whether or not you are into the idea. However, like everything else with wedding planning, this decision can have a pleasantly surprising impact on your entire wedding day experience. And if you are asking “what is a first look” or debating on whether or not this intimate wedding event is for you – keep reading.


What is a First Look?

Up until not so long ago, there was the tradition of a bride and groom waiting to see each other until the wedding ceremony. In today’s modern wedding world, there is an option to have a First Look. This is an intimate moment that allows you to see you partner in their wedding attire for the first time before the ceremony starts.

What Happens at a First Look?

The process of a first look is pretty simple. You meet your partner at a privately designated location within your wedding venue at the predetermined time. One of you will go to the location first, and stand in the spot your planner and photographer have picked. Your back will be turned to where your partner will enter. While you are waiting, expect that your photographer will want to take some photos of you. This is a GREAT opportunity for some solo portraits of you. This helps you direct your nervous energy while you wait. When you are set, your partner will also come to the same location behind you. At this time, your photographer may grab a couple solo portraits of them, as well.

Once you are both ready, your planner or photographers will explain what to do next. They will tell you not to turn around until you feel a tap on one of your shoulders, or until you hear your partner call your name. You will also be directed on which way to turn around, so your photographer can document your reactions and preserve that emotional memory. Once this happens, you will be given a few minutes to spend together alone. When you are ready, this is a great time to move into taking a some bridal portraits of you both.

Why You Should Do a First Look

Generally, your wedding day is full of planned activities that require you to spend most of the day away from your partner. This leads to you spending more time with other people except the person you are actually marrying. A First Look provides the value of dedicating quality alone time between you and your partner while serving as an intrical pause in all the surrounding chaos. Your First Look however, interrupts focusing on the things that don’t really matter. Instead, it places perspective on the importance of the day and the decision of choosing to do life together. Your First Look becomes a core memory, and you will connect with your own emotions, as well. Creating time for this special event allows you to be present in the moment and will probably be the only uninterrupted alone time you will get with your partner the entire day.

Another great benefit of a First Look allows you to have more pictures together on your wedding day while also being able to enjoy cocktail hour. Taking pictures earlier in the day frees you up to enjoy more of the evening with all your best people!

You will never forget this moment, preserve it for life.

Why You Shouldn’t

Depending on what time your ceremony is will influence if you should do a first look. If your ceremony is earlier in the afternoon, it may not be beneficial to do one. Harsh mid-day lighting will impact how your most cherished photos will look. Another reason to not do a first look is if your partner objects. For them, it may be the one moment they have been waiting for to see you walking down the aisle. Also, if you value that specific tradition, it is very important to keep it.

The Emotional Significance

A first look is easily one of the most cherished events of your wedding day. One reason is because this moments serves as an intrical pause in all the surrounding chaos. Another reason is that this moment interrupts focusing on the things that don’t really matter. Instead, it places perspective on the importance of the day and the decision of choosing to do life together. Your first look becomes a core memory, and you will connect with your own emotions, as well. Creating time for this special event allows you to be present in the moment. Also, the First Look will probably be the only alone time you will get with your partner the entire day without outside influence or expectations.

Who to Do a First Look With

There are also other important people you can do a First Look with. These include your parents, siblings, or friends. Most times, this is a great way to personalize and document the emotional significance of the moment with those closest to you. A great point to also consider is that while you may be doing a first look with your family, your partner can one with theirs at the same time. There are so many ways to personalize this event to make it your own.

What is the Point of A First Look?

The idea of first look is to provide you the opportunity to see your spouse before anyone else in a way that is not distracting. Also, for most couples, taking this time together will not take away from the emotions of looking at each other walking down the aisle. Sometimes, a first look enhances the emotional response.


How long do First Looks Last?

A First look will typically last anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The timeframe will be decided with your wedding planner and photographer.

Do you have your bouquet?

Yes, bring your bouquet with you. After your spouse sees you, you will take bridal portraits together.

Is the First Look with Dad or Groom First?

If you are a doing a first look with multiple people, save the time with your groom for last. This allows your planner to remove everyone else from the moment so you can have time without any distractions.

What time should you do a first look at a wedding?

Your first look happens between 1-2 hours prior to the start of your ceremony.

Are you supposed to kiss?

There is no right or wrong answer in what you are supposed to do during during a first look. This is a private moment with the person you are marrying to choose how you want it to go.

First Look Alternatives

If you are still not sure about a First Look, there are alternatives to still meet with your partner but not visually interact with them. Some couples decide to meet in a doorway and just touch hands. Others stand back to back and talk about how the day has gone. And also, some couples definitely choose to preserve that moment sharing it at the ceremony with all their guests. Whatever you decide, please know it is completely up to you.

No matter what you and your partner decide, seeing them for the first time on the wedding day is a magical moment you will never forget.

Imagine reliving those very first moments it all became so real.

Fill out the contact form below, and let’s talk about your wedding photography!

Also, don’t forget to create a First Look Pinterest Board for ideas you love.

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