Brides: Why You Should Consider a First Look

August 3, 2018

A couple eagerly awaits their first look on their wedding day at the Brookstown Inn in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


After nearly ten years of wedding photography, one of the most common questions I get asked is “should we do a first look?”  Well, let me start off by saying that, while I definitely feel like a first look can be an incredible addition to your wedding day, it does veer away from typical wedding day tradition and you need to make sure you’re completely comfortable with the idea before planning to go through with it.

First of all, what in the world is a first look? If you’ve recently gotten engaged and have started to talk details with your various vendors, this question will come up a lot: “So…will you be doing a first look?” Let me explain – put simply, a first look is a choosing to see your future spouse before the ceremony begins. Many couples still follow tradition and wait until the ceremony to see one another for the first time, but its becoming more and more popular to see one another just beforehand. Why? Here are a few of my favorite arguments for doing a first look:



A photograph of a husband and wife doing a first look on their wedding day in Boone, North Carolina.



1. a first look will undeniably calm your nerves – regardless of how calm you are normally, weddings can be stressful. As iconic as that moment where a groom sees his bride walk down the aisle is, there can also be a tremendous amount of pressure attached to that – you’re putting a super personal moment on very public display, and especially if you’re one to shy away from being the center of attention, that can be nerve wracking. This is a wonderful way to have that private moment, just you and your future spouse (oh, and your photographer!) to share + capture before the real thing. Wedding days get crazy, it’s an unavoidable fact – this gives you a moment to reset and remember why you’re doing this, and to remind you that your partner is right there by your side.



A wife covering her husband's eyes during their first look photo shoot on their wedding day in Boone, North Carolina.



2. photo security – In an ideal world, you’ll have a beautifully cushioned timeline that directly feeds into a dreamy golden hour shoot with you and your love. In reality, that isn’t always the case, a million and one things can happen to impact the schedule, and the last thing in the world you want is to be running around frantically trying to get a few photos of you and your partner before you’re rushed into cocktail hour by an impatient DJ. Doing a first look and a few photos afterwards ensures that, should the absolute worst case scenario happen, you still have some beautiful and intimate photos with your spouse. They definitely don’t replace the post-ceremony couples shoot, but they are a lovely safety net.



A bride and groom doing a first look photo session during their wedding day in Boone, North Carolina.


3. more photos! Because who doesn’t want more photos? A first look is basically like your own little pre-wedding portrait session, at no extra cost. Why wouldn’t you want that? First looks are typically done somewhere different than the post-ceremony photos, for privacy reasons, which gives the two of you an entirely unique set of photos from your day that you wouldn’t otherwise get.



A bride and groom kissing under the veil on their wedding day at Winmock wedding venue in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.



4. your day will actually be a lot less stressful if you don’t have to spend it hiding from your future spouse. I know this sounds a little trivial, but trust me, it’s not. Especially if your venue isn’t some huge historic mansion with hundreds of rooms, you’re going to spend a fair amount of time on your wedding day trying to map out getting from one place to another, creating human walls around yourself, etc all trying to avoid your groom glimpsing your white clad beauty. Your wedding day is already going to fly by, so much quicker than you could ever realize. Take those moments you would spend hiding in broom closets and instead use them to sit down with your partner and relish in the specialness of your day together.



A couple doing a first look portrait session before their ceremony on their wedding day in Boone, North Carolina.



5. because it won’t take away from the famous aisle moment. I promise. I’ve seen so many couples do both, and the men who are going to get all misty-eyed… they’ll do it twice. No matter how many times they see your beautiful, wedding gown clad self on that day, there’s nothing in the world like watching your bride walking down the aisle towards you, and knowing that she’s minutes away from becoming your wife. If I’m getting misty eyed writing this (ahm), then the chances of your future spouse missing a chance to tear up over you just because he’s already seen you are pretty slim. If you don’t believe me, check out the two photos below – the couple alone before the ceremony, and then later as she’s walking down the aisle.



not sold on the idea? It’s totally ok – at the end of the day, even if there are 100 great reasons to do a first look, you still need to go with what makes you and your partner the most comfortable. My advice to couples, however, is if you’re opting out of the first look, to set aside a short period of time for a blind first look, where the groom’s eyes are covered, but you still get a few short moments together alone before the ceremony. This still lets you have a moment together to reconnect, it makes for really cute photos, and will definitely help calm your nerves before you walk the aisle. I’ve seen couples talk to each other through a door, across a wall, and even a few sneak some sweet blindfolded kisses.
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