For those just tuning in to the current wedding scene, a first look is when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. Breaking the old tradition that the groom is not to see the bride before she walks down the aisle, some couples are opting to have a private moment to greet one another pre-nuptials.


1. The First Look is Often a Private Moment, Shared Just Between the Bride and Groom.

Why would you want any time alone with your soon-to-be husband or wife? Especially before the madness of the reception begins?

2. The Pictures are Usually Out of This World and Capture Some Seriously Raw Emotions.

Who wants to see that? Pictures with genuine tears and giddy smiles? Ew.

first look photo

Leah Hewitt Photography

3. The Couple Gets to Take in the Moment Without Hundreds of Eyes Focused on Them.

Personally, I’d much rather be the center of attention at all times, so, like, no thanks.

4. A First Look Gives the Bride And Groom More Time to Enjoy Cocktail Hour.

Doing a first look allows couples to take most, if not all, of their formal pictures before the ceremony. You’ve paid a small fortune for your catering. Why would you want to enjoy your delicious appetizers, drinks, and guests? Boring.

cocktail hour photography

Caitlins Living Photography

5. It’s Not Traditional, Therefore it Shouldn’t Happen.

Grooms must ONLY see their brides as they walk down the aisle. Brides must ALWAYS wear white. Oh and while we’re at it, this better be happening in a church.

You see where we’re going with this?! We absolutely LOVE first looks! We admit, they’re not for everyone. Traditionalists would say they prefer the age-old custom of seeing each other at the altar for the first time. We, however, think that first looks are absolutely perfect. Not only do they allow the couple a moment of privacy, they are a great way to capture the rawest emotions (think: groom with tears). First looks are also a perfect time to step away from the hustle and bustle of the wedding day. The couple is about to embark on a journey, starting with the festivities that lay ahead. Stepping aside for a moment to take it all in, especially each other, is precious time.


Limit Your Audience

It’s true, your moms may want to witness the first look. While we don’t discourage this, we do encourage you to keep the viewing audience to a minimum. Moms, dads, and bridal parties are fine (and maybe only after you’ve had a moment to treasure alone). A first look might not be the best place to invite your grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles, though. With too many people, the intimacy of the moment is quickly lost.

first look photography

Alysia & Jayson Photography

Give Yourself Time

The actual first look may only take a matter of minutes, but giving yourself enough time to truly enjoy each other is crucial. A good wedding planner will account for this, giving you, your partner, and your photographer plenty of time to capture those special moments.

Use This Time for Formal Photos

The idea of taking formal photos (think: bride/groom with extended family, bridal party, parents, etc.) after the ceremony stems from the fact that the bride and groom will not see each other until they’re saying I Do. If you’ve opted for a first look, take advantage of pre-ceremony time to get those formal photos out of the way. Save 15-20 minutes post-ceremony to wrap up any other photos you’d like to take (i.e. one with your officiant or the fussy ring bearer who needed a nap before the I Dos). Keeping the post-nuptial photos to a minimum will allow you to enjoy your Cocktail Hour with your guests!

wedding party photo

DaniLeigh Photography

Allow Time for Touch Ups

If you’re seeing your groom for the first time, chances are there are going to be kisses, embraces, and a few tears. If you’re lucky enough to have your first look outside mid-summer, you also may be blessed with a few beads of sweat – how fun! Account for this in your timeline and use the additional moments before your ceremony to dry your eyes, reapply lipstick, and for grooms, change your undershirt (trust us, having an extra tee for beneath your suit shirt is clutch to feeling fresh!).