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Everything You Need to Know About the First Look

Feb 20, 2019


To first look or to not first look, that is the question. If you are engaged you might be wondering, what’s the deal with this whole first look thing? I am happy that you are here reading this post because that means you are a thoughtful bride and want to make your wedding the best it can be! I want that for you too so let’s get to it! Here is everything you need to know about the first look!

What is a first look?

A first look is a time on the wedding day where the bride and groom have intimate private time to see one another before the ceremony.

Why should you do a first look?

There are 5 great benefits to doing a first look:

1. It gives you 40% more portraits:

You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you! These are the images you will decorate your first home with! With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money.

2. You can enjoy the surprise freely:

You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you.

You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance. You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money.

3. It extends the celebration:

Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day.

4. It gives you alone time together:

First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. When portraits are saved until after the family formals, and they often are a little rushed (because we can’t keep the guests waiting too long) and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey-dovey” mode after family photos! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other, and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments!


5. It Diminishes nerves:

I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have decided to do a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. Ladies have the whole day to prepare emotionally while they are getting ready. Up until an hour before the ceremony grooms are usually off surfing or playing video games! Then they slip into their suit and get SO nervous. But during the first look, they can get rid of the nerves and are left with only excitement!

Who is a part of a first look?

You, your future spouse and your documentation team. Often moms or best friends try to sneak their way into this part of the day to watch. This moment is so intimate and sweet and so it’s only natural that they would. If this happens I will kindly ask them to allow you this alone time together. I explain that this will be the only alone time that you two will have for the whole day and that we need to protect that. Plus it’s hard to react naturally and for something to feel intimate when you have an audience.

Where is the first look?

First looks are typically at one of two locations: your venue or getting ready location, like a hotel or Airbnb. And they are usually done in a shady spot. This is because they are usually scheduled in the middle of the day when the light is harsh. Not only will the shade keep you cool but the soft even light will make your the photos of this time so lovely.

Letting your photographer choose this location for you is usually the way to go. A location might look really lovely to you when you toured your venue, however, there might be aspects of that spot that wouldn’t work for the first look depending on the time of day. If you love a spot be sure to let your photographer know, but keep an open mind because they are lighting experts and have your best interest in mind!

When is the first look?

As you’ve read above, the first look happens before the ceremony! But there’s more to it than that! Because it allows you to do your bridal party images and family photos before the ceremony, first looks can be scheduled anywhere from two to three hours before your guest arrive!

How does the first look happen?

Every photographer sets it up a little differently but I will describe to you how I do it to give you a general idea. Fifteen minutes before the first look all the getting ready photos are done, and both the bride and groom are dresses, and I take the groom and set him up in the beautiful shady location I’ve picked out.

I tell him that his bride will walk up behind him and say his name. Once she does he may turn and look at her but I ask him to turn towards me so I can be sure to capture his reaction. I tell him that we will not do any directing and capture it candidly, and whenever they are ready just to look at us and let them know they are ready to move on to portraits.

My second shooter stays with him while I go and get the bride. As I walk my sweet bride over I explain the same thing to her. My second shooter and I get into our spots. I’m focused on the groom’s reaction and she is focused on the bride’s. I smile over to the bride to let her know it’s gone time.

My second shooter and I photograph their sweet reactions and give them some space. Some couples are ready for portraits right away, and some take their time. Every first look is different and beautiful in its own unique way. However, I always schedule 15 minutes for setting it up and 15 minutes for the actual first look.

This gives us plenty of buffer time just in case the set up takes a little longer, or we run into dad on the way, or you decide last minute that you want to wear your veil. No matter what there you and your groom will have alone time together without being rushed.


I hope this post was helpful in making your decision and that you feel like you got everything you need to know about a first look!

Are you engaged? I’d love to tell your story!

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