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5 Reasons I Always Encourage My Couples to do a First Look

Updated: Apr 25

I am such an advocate for a first look and it's probably not for the reason you think!

First Looks have become more and more common, and I, for one, think that is superb! In case you don't know, a first look is a moment set aside before the ceremony for the bride and groom to see one another for the first time in their wedding best and will typically complete their couples photography session immediately thereafter. Yes, the bride and groom come together BEFORE the ceremony. Now, some of you may be thinking to yourself 'but that's bad luck...' It absolutely is not.

Let's talk about that superstition and why it started; honestly its origin is pretty icky. So back in the days when arranged marriages were the norm it was customary that the bride and groom not even meet until they were at the alter. The fear was that the groom would find his future wife "unattractive" and back out. I imagine this happened more than a few times and thus one way or another some very 'smart' man with a very small 'sense of humor' came up with the idea that it was "bad luck."

Seems to me legally obliging two people who have never met to live their lives together for the purposes of a business arrangement is pretty bad luck itself. But hey, olden times! (BTW this is also where the tradition of wearing the veil over your face originates, cringe)

Anyhow, seeing your so so soon to be spouse on your wedding day is what you are there for! Now, you may also be saying to yourself 'but I really want the first time we see each other to be coming down the aisle, I like that tradition even if its origins are questionable.'

I get that, and you will ultimately come together with your partner, discuss and it and come to the decision that is best for you, but hear me out.

With all that said, lets jump in!

Groom reaching back for his bride just before first look

Reason Number 1 - Togetherness

Your wedding day will fly by so freakin fast, don't you want to spend as much time as possible with the person to whom you are saying I do? Many of my couples have never gotten married before, and even if you have - don't you want to go into this marriage, this one that is right, with the love of your life by your side? You will be shocked by how quickly your big day is going to rush over you. It is so easy to get caught up in all the little details, the photos, the mishaps, everyone who is there to support you. Just don't forget the reason you have done all of this planning and all of this work. Your wedding day is ultimately about you and your fiancé. Not just you, not just them; but your union, your partnership, your love.

Having the freedom to maximize the time you spend together will be treasured in the end, believe me.

You two can even go back to the bridal suite together before the ceremony, or if you need to travel to your ceremony site you can go together!

Reason Number 2 - Emotional Connection & Soothed Nerves

The journey that you and your boo have been on is all culminating on this day. It's not your best day ever, it's your best day yet. No matter how long you have been together or how excited you are to exchange those rings, nerves are real.

I can think of one person and one person only I want to soothe those nerves. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the support around you on your wedding day, but maybe mom isn't great at calming you down, and your brides people and/or grooms folk will all have your back, but remember who you are doing all this for.

Connecting prior to the ceremony is an amazing opportunity for those reactions to be for you, not for your entire guest list while you are effectively on stage. When it's just the two of you (and your photo team - sorry, but you'll want these moments documented) you have the freedom to fully express yourself, to laugh, to cry and to be one with the person you love most (and your photo team will have a lot more freedom to document it).

Most importantly, you'll both be feeling so confident when it's time to walk down the aisle!

Reason Number 3 - Private Vows and Gift Giving

If you plan to exchange gifts or share personal vows or letters privately a first look is the perfect time to do so. Think about it for a minute. It's a hyper-emotional time that you two get to spend together without any other pressures. This is the moment to share those vows and exchange gifts.

Some soon to be newlyweds read their letters separately; which can be a beautiful and emotional moment, but it's not one that you're sharing. I've had couples read letters out loud during a first touch (when you come together before the ceremony, but don't actually see each other), but you can't look each other in the eyes. Some opt to send gifts to the others getting ready suite, but then you don't get to give it to them yourself.

There is something so personal and so special about the words and items you chose to share with one another on your wedding day, and it is so so much better when you can be present and look deep when you do.

Reason Number 4 - It's Easier on Your Wedding Party & Family

This is the point where I would be lying if I said that traditional timelines are not any harder than first look timelines. They are much harder! And not just on your photo team and planner, but on you, your family, your wedding party and your guests.

After your first look we'll have the opportunity to photograph you and your entire wedding party together! Imagine - not only is your hair and makeup fresh, but so is theirs. Nobody's smeared their makeup crying during the ceremony. Nobody's feeling fatigued coming out of the ceremony needing to eat or sit down. Nobody's feet hurt - well, somebodies feet may already hurt, but it's that much sooner they can change into those reception shoes!

And best of all, we have time! We're not just checking the 'must have' boxes, we can actually take the time to have fun and let your personalities show!

Sometimes we can even get a lot of your immediate family photos done beforehand too, this means all those important break outs - just you and mom, you and your siblings etc can all be taken care of before you walk down the aisle. Leaving a short extended family list of mostly larger groups to photograph after the ceremony.

The goal is for YOU and everybody who has been there with you throughout the planning process to be able to enjoy the amazing party you've planned.

Reason Number 5 - Not Burning Yourself Out (timeline)

Consider not only the photo list that we need to accomplish during cocktail hour, but all the other little things that need to happen between the end of the ceremony and your grand entrance into your reception. You'll want to soak in the moment right after your ceremony, YOU'RE MARRIED!!! We'll want to get drinks in your hands while we do a little wrangling to get the family together then fulfill that family photo list, we'll need to photograph the two of you with your entire wedding party, and we'll be doing this quick so we can maximize your couples session- the star of the show! If there are specific locations at your venue that you want photos at we have to account for travel time (either on foot or via shuttle or golf cart) to make sure we get all the dreamy Pinterest worthy photos of the two of you! Then we have to get you back to where you'll need to enter from, gather the wedding party, bustle the dress, and maybe if you're really lucky you'll get a small plate of food from cocktail hour.

If that sounds like a lot it's because it is. And let me tell you, photo fatigue is real. Not to mention you are still high off of saying your I dos!

I want you to really consider when you are going to connect with each other after the ceremony? Some couples opt for a private dinner, but that puts you in a position where you leave your guests (who are there for you) in a room without you for even longer.

Alternatively, we could just be looking at a family photo list and maybe the need to make up something we ran out of time for prior to the ceremony, leaving you time to recenter, grab some of your awesome cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres, bustle that dress and come into the reception riding that just married high.

Bonus Round:

  1. Depending on how sunset falls on your timeline, you'll feel way more up to popping out for a few dreamy golden hour photos if you've had a bit of a break and a chance to mingle with your guests!

  2. Some couples prioritize making it to cocktail hour, which is only doable with a first look and extra coverage before the ceremony to make certain we have time for absolutely everything (or sacrificing photos, eek!); but you can have your party and be there too!

Every Wedding and every love story is different; I'm here to capture your special day regardless of which route you pick and support what is right for you! However, I do truly want you to soak up every bit of your big day and look back on it feeling like you maximized your time with your new spouse!

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