First Looks…  To have one or not.  That seems to be a great debate among many of our couples.  There are pro’s and con’s to both sides of it.  And sometimes it can be hard to see past the traditional stigma of not seeing each other before the ceremony.  Having been photographing weddings for years I’ve seen a lot of different scenarios play out on the wedding day; both with first looks and without first looks.  Not only as a wedding photographer but as a romantic at heart I have become a huge advocate for having a first look and here’s why!


1.  You get to see your best friend on the most important day of your lives!



The person you’re marrying is your absolute best friend.  You spend just about every waking hour with them and when you’re not with them you are texting them or stalking them on social media.  Ok, maybe not that obsessive, but you get my point right?  This whole day is about you as a couple.  And what celebrates that besides not seeing each other until 4:00 in the afternoon and pointedly doing everything you can to stay away from each other?  Now I’m not implying that you don’t love each other as much if you don’t do a first look, absolutely not.  But how great would it be if you got all dolled up and looked radiant then you get to see your love and just HANG OUT with them before all of the festivities of the day?


 2.  After you see each other you get to talk, hug, kiss, pray, dance…  Anything!


Picture this: you’re walking down the aisle with your dad at your side.  You’ve got 300 people staring at you with tears in their eyes.  You’re nervous and trying to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and not face planting your way down the aisle.  Then you look up and search the faces at the alter looking for your soon to be husband.  Then you see him.  He’s smiling from ear to ear, and he’s got a tear in his eye.  Just what you wanted!  Then you get to the end of the aisle and all you want to do is jump into his arms and kiss him wildly telling him how much you love him and can’t wait to do this thing!  But then you realize that you’ve got an audience.  And the pastor starts to talk about 1 Corinthians 13 and the greatness of marriage.  And before you know it you are standing a foot apart from each other holding hands and staring mute into each others eyes.  I mean, I may have been a drama student in college, so there may be some theatrics in there.  But the point remains the same.

When you do a first look it is just you two (and me of course 😉 ).  You get to walk up to your almost husband and watch him turn around in awe.  Then he can wipe the tear from his eye and grab you in the deepest warmest hug you’ve ever shared.  You can kiss, then talk to each other about your love, and your marriage, and your future together.


3.  You still get a great reaction – if not a better one!



This brings me to my third point.  Most women worry that by doing a first look they will lose that ‘first-time-seeing-her-in-the-church’ reaction.  I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true!  Most of the time I find that guys have a better reaction during a first look.  There’s so much less stress because you don’t have an audience, and you don’t have line and cues that you have to remember.   You get to stand there and be you.  So when he see’s you that is the ONLY thing he is thinking about and the emotions can be overwhelming (and so so beautiful).

*side note: In many of our weddings we will have a beautiful reaction from the Groom at the first look and STILL have tears at the ceremony.


outdoor summer wedding in illinois


4.  Timing


scared heart cathedral wedding photography

Now this one is totally a photographer thing.  BUT it applies so much to you and your guests.  When you don’t do a first look you have to push back a lot of your photographs until after your ceremony.  You’re looking at doing Family Formals, Bride & Groom portraits, and your whole bridal party photos.  This is a minimum of 80-90 minutes.  Add in more if Uncle Joe decides to head in for a cocktail when he’s supposed to be next in line to take his photo.  That is all time that your guests are sitting there waiting for you since you’re the whole reason they are there.

But if you have a first look, get most of your portraits done before your ceremony – then all you have to do after your ceremony is your family formals (some couples even choose to do those before the ceremony as well!).  We’ve had a lot of couples that have even had time to go hang out at their cocktail hour with their guests!  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  If you could plan a cocktail hour and invite 300 of your closest family and friends – and then actually get to go have a drink and chat with them all?!

This also means that you can get the party started sooner and let people eat sooner!  Because, let’s face it, that is what everyone is concerned with by 5:00 pm.



These are just a few of the reasons that I love first looks.  They can be so helpful, so much fun, and a great addition to your wedding day.

Let me put a disclaimer in here and say that I love all of my couples the same – whether you choose to do a first look or not.  And I think you’re wedding can still be amazing without a first look.   🙂

You May Also Enjoy