Should I do a first look?

FAQ: “Should I Do a First Look?”

Tips for Brides

The topic of First Looks on wedding days is a topic I get asked about a lot so today I’m going to address the frequently asked, sometimes controversial topic of First Looks. Here goes!

First of all, you should know that I actually don’t always think a First Look is essential (more on that in a bit!) but the truth is, with venue weddings being so popular nowadays, First Looks are often recommended if you want to get the most out of your wedding photography. For those of you who aren’t sure what a First Look is, I’ll start with a brief explanation. Traditionally, a groom would see his bride for the first time as she walked down the aisle at the start of the wedding ceremony. However, the term First Look now refers to the private moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time *before* their ceremony. There are many reasons why couples often opt for a First Look but, in my opinion, the First Look is absolutely essential if one of the three reasons below apply to you.

Reasons Why a First Look May Be Necessary

  1. You are having your reception directly following your ceremony at the same venue. In this situation, if your ceremony is at 5:30pm, your cocktail hour is from 6pm – 7pm, and your reception is from 7pm – 11pm, then the only time for portraits if you *don’t* do a First Look would be during cocktail hour. This means that you’ll miss your entire cocktail hour to take family formals, bridal party photos, and bride/groom photos. This also means that your family and bridal party will miss a big portion of the cocktail hour, too. Aaaaand since you’ll need to end the portrait session early to bustle your dress, you’ll have fewer portraits in your wedding gallery.
  2. There is a long drive between the ceremony location and the reception venue. If this is the case then, again, a First Look is essential so that you can get right to cocktail hour as soon as you arrive at the reception venue.
  3. You are getting married in the late fall, winter, or early spring when the days are shorter. The first thing I do when creating a wedding day timeline is check the sunset time on your wedding day. If the sun will be setting by the time your ceremony starts then it will be too late after the ceremony to get any natural light photos of you, your bridal party, and your family.


Now, what if none of these reasons applies to you? Should you still consider a First Look? In my opinion, it depends. A First Look is actually not always advisable. Below is when a First Look simply doesn’t make sense.

The One Time When a First Look Never Makes Sense

You are having a church ceremony and you have allotted plenty of driving time, wiggle room, and two hours of portrait time during daylight hours between the ceremony and reception for family, bridal party, and bride/groom photos. In this case, it would be better to have a leisurely morning getting ready with your bridal party and leaving all the formal portrait sessions for after the ceremony.

So what if you just got engaged and haven’t decided whether you’ll be tying the knot at a venue or a church? Read on!

My Top 5 Reasons Why You May Want to Consider a First Look

  1. You’ll get to spend more time with your groom. Think about it – if your ceremony isn’t until 5:30pm that means that, without a First Look, you won’t get to see your groom until the evening of your wedding day. Your wedding day will go by so fast – make sure you are spending the most amount of time together!
  2. A First Look will help to calm your nerves and avoid anxiety. You’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the day much more if you’re not nervous all day.
  3. You’ll be able to do family formals before the ceremony, too, which means that everyone will be one spot and we won’t have to find and fetch anyone that forgot about formals and went to cocktail hour instead.
  4. Your bridal party will be sober and focused on you only =)
  5. Once the ceremony is over, you are DONE with photos and can enjoy the company of your family and friends without interruption.

I hope this gave you the perspective you were looking for and that it helps you make a decision as to whether or not you should have a first look! Either way, the moment that your groom sees you for the first on your wedding day will be beautiful, memorable, and meaningful in every way and we can’t wait to see the look on his face!

Engagement Session Planning Guide

Did you find this post useful? Fill out the form below to get our free Engagement Session Planning Guide along with lots of tips and tricks for planning your wedding!


Should I Do a First Look? | Tips for Brides

share on:


If we haven't met yet, I'm Alex! I'm passionate about discovering beautiful stories, documenting genuine moments, and capturing timeless images along the way. Here I share my latest work, a peek at the heirlooms we create, and helpful resources. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!







for brides



Do you love natural light but worry that you don't know what to look out for when searching for a photographer? Click below to get my tips so that you feel confident choosing someone to capture one of the most important days of your lives.








Let’s work together!
Contact us for more details.

get in touch