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Let’s be real: if you want to draw out some strong opinions in brides and photographers alike, there’s no conversation like the one surrounding wedding day first looks. Some photographers believe they vastly improve a day of timeline, while others think they rush the early portion of the day. Some brides enjoy the idea of that intimate moment, while others dream of seeing their almost-husband for the first time on the walk down the aisle.

First looks have certainly become a trendy addition to wedding days and can be absolutely beautiful, but, believe it or not, I don’t necessarily think they are for everyone. Talk about a hot take! Sure, a first look can give you some extra photos for your gallery, but when you’re deciding whether or not to plan for a first look on your wedding day, here are a few other things I’d recommend you consider:

Finding Your Best Light
If you’re hoping for stunning bridal portraits flooded with romantic golden light, it’s absolutely essential to consider what time of day you plan to take your photos.If your wedding is going to be during the fall or winter, I definitely recommend planning for a first look. The last thing you want is to feel rushed, scrambling to take all of your family, bridal party and couples photos. So, unless you are planning a morning or early afternoon ceremony, first looks are generally the best way to go.If, however, your wedding falls in the spring or summer months, first looks aren’t as necessary and can actually make for harshly-lit images. Because we have plenty of daylight to play with, taking portraits after the ceremony isn’t a race against the clock, and post-ceremony photos might be the best way to go.

Your Perfect Timeline
It may sound obvious, but it’s worth saying: first looks take time.Rather than spending your entire morning pre-ceremony with your girls sipping mimosas at the salon, you’ll need to arrive well in advance for your portraits. If waking up early isn’t your thing, first look photos may not be either. Your bridal party might also get a little antsy or bored waiting for the ceremony to begin after the photos are complete.But if your goal is to spend as much time as possible with your guests – even having the opportunity to hit up the cocktail hour – first look photos are the way to go!

Looking Your Best
Remember, this is your day, and whatever makes you look and feel your best is the way to go.Nervous about teary mascara smudges on your way down the aisle? First looks allow you to feel all the feelings and then touch up your makeup before the “I dos.”But, if you’re anxious about keeping your gown pristine for the ceremony, it may not be a great idea. Because you’ll have your dress on earlier than you would ordinarily, there are more opportunities for it to get dirty or snag as we take photos.

A Quiet Moment
I believe a quiet moment between the bride and her groom on a wedding day is absolutely essential, but it’s totally a matter of personal taste when you want to make that happen.If you choose to do a first look, you will be able to take a moment together as a couple before all the guests arrive. However, some couples prefer to treasure the quiet moments after the ceremony that bridal portraits give them to process and savor the special moment before rushing right into the reception.

Your Personalities
I can’t emphasize enough how unique a wedding day should be to the couple celebrating it. So keep that in mind with each decision you make, particularly this one.If you’ve always dreamed of seeing each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle, don’t feel pressured to go with a first look for any reason. However, shy couples often enjoy the fact that there is less pressure in a first look. It’s a chance to shake the jitters in a “for your eyes only” moment before the crowd descends.And no matter which way you go, keep in mind that if your fiancé isn’t a super emotional person, he may not break down weeping the moment he sees you. And that’s okay!

Think Outside The Box
A first look doesn’t have to be what you’ve seen hundreds of times on Pinterest. Want to exchange emotional vows away from prying eyes before stepping in front of friends and family? Want to take the pressure off your fiancé and do a joint first look with your entire bridal party? Want to do a first look with your parents and save your fiance’s reaction for your trip down the aisle? It’s your day, and a perfect opportunity to get really creative! 

So, feel free to discuss options with your photographer. And above all, do what feels right for you!

  1. Casey says:

    I loved seeing this and needed to! I’ve always thought that I hated the idea of a first look but I’ve recently been having second thoughts! Reading these great words and seeing the amazing pictures help!!

  2. Alexes says:

    Love this! We did a first look and it’s one of my favorite memories from my wedding . It was such an intimate and romantic moment.

  3. Christie Pitts says:

    I loved reading this article! I’ve been debating whether or not to do a first look and I loved the many options to consider, especially with the time of year of our wedding! I’ll definitely be discussing this as an inclusion for my wedding day!

  4. Melissa says:

    First off, love your new website! We loved our first look and how it was away from our wedding guests. It was one of our favourite moments from our wedding day! It was a moment just for the two of us before celebrating our special day with our family and friends!

  5. Olivia says:

    I loved this! I’m so on the fence about a first look but am leaning towards more of a moment to hold hands, say something intimately and keep the excitement for the ceremony!

  6. Cassandra Raisig says:

    As someone in the industry, one of my favourite moments of a wedding day is when the couple first lay eyes on their husband or wife to be. I totally agree that weddings have to be specific and tailored to match the couple, and I myself have been back and forth on this topic for a while now for my own wedding ! What’s incredible though is regardless if it’s during a private intimate first look or walking down the aisle to each other, the love in their eyes and shown upon their faces is such a magical moment. Definitely one of my ultimate favourite things to witness.


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