The First Look || Why it’s Worth It

For Brides

Hey there, bride-to-be! If you aren’t really sure what a “First Look” is or why on earth people are choosing this over the age-old tradition of not seeing each other until the moment the bride walks down the aisle, then this post is especially for you. But even if you do know what a First Look is, and you are alread conviced you don’t want to do it, I highly encourage you to at least read through this post so you can weigh all the pros and cons of both options.

A Little disclaimer: I am in no way trying to convince you that you must do a First Look, and in fact, many of my couples still chose to forego a First Look. But those that have decided to go for it have had incredible experiences and so I decided to share the information I have so that you and your fiancé can make an educated decision for your own wedding day.

What I have discovered, along with many other photographers, is that for most brides, it is not the tradition of waiting to see each other before the wedding that they are deeply attached to, but rather it is the dream they’ve had of seeing their groom’s REACTION to them walking down the aisle. I have had many couples tell me that they are not interested in a First Look because they are afraid that seeing each other beforehand will mean that the moment the bride walks down the aisle will not be nearly as special or emotional as it otherwise would have been.

But the truth is, that’s actually the opposite of what happens. When a couple chooses to do a First Look, the Bride is able to reveal herself to her soon-to-be-husband in an incredibly private and intimate moment. The groom is set up in a private location and his beautiful bride, the love of his life, walks up behind him and gently taps his shoulder. He turns around and gets his first look of his STUNNING bride and without 200+ guests watching them. There is no one directing what they need to do next, there are no distractions of any kind, there is nothing they are supposed to do but REACT to each other. They can embrace, kiss, cry, laugh and ENJOY the moment for as LONG as they want. The Groom can actually tell his Bride how beautiful she looks, the Bride can twirl her dress around and show off every angle of her gorgeousness. She can gush over his boutonniere and caress his face, and exclaim over his shoes. This is their time to be together and ALONE on their wedding day (which trust me, is a rare thing). Sharing together the crazy rush of emotions that come right before their wedding starts and the giddy exclamations of “Oh my gosh, we’re really doing this, we’re about to be MARRIED!”

Now that I’ve explained a little bit of how the First Look works, I want to share the top FIVE reasons why I believe a First Look is worth it.

Number One: You can Freely Express Your Emotions

Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally shock him with your gorgeous-ness, he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. You walk down the aisle and go straight into the order of the ceremony. Other than holding your hand, he can’t touch you, embrace you, or even really speak to you. You have to wait 40-60 minutes until the ceremony is over for him to be able to freely react and tell you how amazing you look and after a 40+ minute ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance. But, as I explained above, with a First Look the privacy and intimacy of the moment allows both of you to freely express your emotions of the moment out loud with each other.

Number Two: The First Look Extends Your Wedding Day

Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would proceed, and after it, you would rush through family formals, wedding party photos, and finally the bride and groom portraits. This is often hurried so that you are not late to your introductions and you and your wedding party are often pretty hungry by this point. Then it’s the reception time and a few hours later it’s all over. BUT with a First look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for all of your portraits, you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. And with most (or all) of your portraits completed before the ceremony, you have the time to freely enjoy your guests (and the food) during the cocktail hour! Thus having more time with each other on your wedding day and with your guests!

Number Three: You Receive MORE Portraits

You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography and with a First Look you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you. These are the images you’ll decorate your first home with and gush over when you look through your wedding album! Normally portraits are a little rushed after family formals and it can be difficult to get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…especially with family around or a coordinator pushing to keep us on schedule. When you have just shared your First Look, you’re ready to love on each other and I always capture super sweet images during those moments! When you do a First Look you make the most out of this large investment and guarantee that you get the most for your money.

Number Four: You Get to be Together and ALONE

As I explained earlier, when you do a First Look, you get precious time together completely alone (during your First Look I will have a longer lens on and stay further back and allow you two to experience this moment uninterrupted!) It will not only be intimate and emotional, but it may also be your only time alone the whole day! For us introverts out there, this is a PRECIOUS commodity. But even the extroverts among us often appreciate and treasure this quiet time alone together.

Number Five: You Get Rid of the Nerves

Grooms especially tend to become incredibly nervous on a wedding day, even if they appear to be calm, cool, and collected. There’s a lot of pressure on you both, a lot of moving parts to coordinate, a tight timeline to keep to, and 200 some people whose entire focus will be on the two of you. When you do a First Look, your true emotions are free to be expressed and your nerves tend to disappear. You suddenly remember you’re doing this together with your Best Friend and everything else fades into the background. There are a lot of testimonials of grooms who were not a fan of the idea of the First Look, but who afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony.

Phew, that was a lot of information and I hope you’re not overwhelmed! Before you leave this page, I just want to end with a few closing thoughts.

If you read all of this and are thinking “Mary Kate, yes, the First Look sounds amazing, but I have been dreaming forever of seeing my groom’s face at the end of the aisle as he sees me for the first time and I don’t want to give that up”. Let me just assure you, that, even with doing a First Look, the moment the music changes and the doors open, and you enter on your father’s arm, that moment is still just as incredibly powerful and amazing as it would be without a First Look. This is because at that moment it all becomes real: you are actually walking towards your Groom to MARRY him and your closest friends and family members have gathered to watch you do just that. It is still just as surreal and emotional as it would have been without a First Look. While I may not have firsthand personal experience to validate this statement (seeing as I’m unmarried myself), my couples who have done first looks have assured me of this. (Also, some brides have chosen to wait to put their veil on until right before they walk down the aisle so that there is still an element of surprise and something the groom hasn’t seen yet, which is a sweet idea.)

One final side note is that if you have never seen your man cry or get emotional, you can’t expect him to be overly emotional on your wedding day. Some guys just embrace their brides and never cry and that’s OK! Some guys show very little emotion when their bride is coming down the aisle and that’s ok too! Just enjoy this amazing day and try not to put any expectations on him!

And finally, if you want to watch a BEAUTIFUL compilation of some of the most moving first looks check out this amazing video by Wild Oak Films (just have your tissues nearby).

As I said at the beginning, I am in no way trying to pressure you into choosing a First Look, I have simply witnessed many couples reap the benefits of doing a First Look and it’s my desire to share the information I have gathered so you can make an educated decision about your own wedding day experience and I hope this helped!

One last thing, if you want to read real life stories about couples who have chosen to do a First Look on their wedding day, be sure to read this blog post!

Mary Kate

  1. Alyssa says:

    I totally agree! First Looks are so special and was honestly my favorite portion of the day from my own wedding. Getting to be with your significant other before the craziness of the wedding day happened was so wonderful. Taking a few moments to just be with one another is something I’ll always remember.

  2. Sarah says:

    GIRL, PREACH IT!!! PAAAREACHHHHH ITTTTT!!! I am so glad that you created this article for future couples to read. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops! 

  3. Rebekah says:

    Love love the detail put into this post. I loved how there wasn’t any pressure to do a first look but it was more a post to educate those who are wondering the benefits of a first look or even what a first look is!

  4. Michaila says:

    I love First Looks! I always recommend couples to do one!

  5. Rachel says:

    I relate SO much to number one – that was so real for my husband and I on our wedding day! he’ll tell it’s the best decision we made, and I agree. Good words! 

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