I’m often asked about the pros and cons of doing a first look, versus the traditional decision to see each other at the ceremony for the first time. While I think it’s a very personal choice for each individual couple, here are some key thoughts to guide your decision.

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One of the main benefits of doing a first look is that it allows you to get a majority of your posed pictures out of the way prior to the ceremony. Since most couples get married in the evening, this means more time for you to enjoy your reception.


Another great reason to do a first look is that your hair and makeup will never be more perfect than right after you get ready. Wind, tears, hugs, etc. all impact your appearance in pictures. It’s really the ideal moment to take any formal photographs.


One benefit that couples don’t expect is that it actually helps them relax by seeing their spouse-to-be and taking the edge off your nerves. That doesn’t mean that it will detract from the emotions and thrill of walking down the aisle later that day, I promise.


Relatedly, many couples enjoy spending more time together on the wedding day. It goes by in the blink of an eye! Plus, at the reception you can be pulled in different directions and a first look guarantees alone time to be together.

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Another consideration is the ability to shoot portraits during daylight. If you are getting married in the evening and sunset happens before or during your ceremony, you really should talk to your photographer about how this will impact the post-ceremony pictures, which may require supplemental “flash” type lighting (and may not represent the photographs you fell in love with in their portfolio). Relatedly, if you are playing your ceremony time right up to the edge, NEVER count on sunset light. On a cloudy day, it will start to feel dark about an hour before sunset.

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Lots of brides are doing “first looks” with other special people, such as the Father of the Bride or a reveal to the bridal party. More than just a photo opportunity, this can be a very special memory of the day.


Whatever your choice, it’s a good idea to involve your photographer in coming up with a decision that make sense for you. For couples that choose not to see each other, I request that we have a 15 minute session together before doing any group shots. This is a time of high energy and I never like to watch those emotions slip away as we slow down for group photos.


Debating a First Look?

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  1. Molly says:

    When our daughter got married, she and her husband did a "first look" that included both sets of parents, as they had chosen to have the bridal couple walk down the aisle together rather than be accompanied separately by parents. It was a nice way to have a nod to tradition and include us in a very emotional moment. The photos are beautiful, too. There’s one where the bridal couple gaze at each in the foreground, while behind them, my husband and I share a glance that is similarly filled with love. We wouldn’t have had that moment without the choice to do the "first look".