I wrote this originally in 2015, but took some time in 2019 to update this post!
I get asked often, “How did you have time to take all of those amazing pictures of the bride and groom?! There must have been a TON of them you took!” Haha, okay, I don’t get asked those exact words, but I do often have people ask me how I have time to take such great pictures of my couples. The answer: A First Look.
First Looks are becoming more and more popular in this day and age for weddings. But what is a First Look exactly? A First Look allows the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. This is done with the couple and the photographer, and allows the couple a private moment together. It’s done primarily to provide the couple with more time to take pictures on their wedding day.
Before I share my reasoning as a photographer in recommending First Looks, I would love to share my personal experience as a bride with a First Look. As a photographer, I often get the concerned comment from the couple, “I don’t want to see him before the ceremony because it takes away from the wedding day and makes the moment I walk down the aisle less special.”
I always tell my couples that this is far from the truth. I saw Joshua at our First Look three hours before the ceremony. We had this very special and amazing moment just the two of us. We got to hug, kiss, talk, giggle, and even have a few funny jokes with each other that we still laugh about today. If we hadn’t seen each other, I would have had my Dad walk me down to him, stand in between us, and then we would move right into the ceremony. No chance to kiss, laugh, or have inside jokes. I still cried during our First Look AND walking down the aisle to marry him. I still had those butterflies in my stomach as I walked down to him. I still had all of the same emotions I would have had I not seen him. In fact, I think I got to enjoy walking to him even more because I wasn’t freaking out inside. We had already seen each other and had a good time during the day already.
I love the pictures Katherine captured for us in our First Look! I still look at Joshua’s reaction and just smile and often tear up. You can see I was a big cry baby!
I loved that I got to spend my WEDDING DAY with Joshua. Because our ceremony was at 2pm, our First Look was at 10:30am. This meant we literally spent almost our whole wedding day together! I loved getting to spend our day together! The day itself was less stressful, and I was more relaxed throughout the day.
By far, my favorite picture of us on our wedding day. We couldn’t have gotten this without a First Look. The lighting wouldn’t have been the same and we wouldn’t have had time to travel to this location after the ceremony. I LOVE this picture!
As a photographer, I love doing First Looks for many reasons. Check out my TOP FIVE reasons below:
1) More Pictures- Most of my clients initially inquiry about my services because they love my work. They love the pictures that I take. A First Look it gives us a chance to get more awesome pictures of the two of you. My couples who do a First Look typically get double the amount of portrait pictures than my non-First Look couples. With a First Look, I will schedule at least an hour’s worth of pictures for just the two of you. When you don’t see each other, you only have 15, maybe 20 minutes total after the ceremony once we’ve done extended family, immediate family, and wedding party pictures. If the number of pictures you receive from me is something that is important to you, then I would definitely consider doing a First Look.
We had the opportunity to take a TON of pictures for Andie and Chandler’s wedding last December. They got more pictures than I have ever delivered to a couple because of the amount of time and locations we went to for their couple portraits! Without a First Look, we would have done one of these locations on Berry’s campus.
2) A Private Moment– My couples who see each other for a First Look get a moment of seeing each other for the first time in an intimate and private setting. We can pick out a location at your venue or you can even “walk down the aisle” to each other like I did with Joshua. Many of my couples who don’t want to do a First Look say so because they want a traditional “walk down the aisle” moment, but I remind them that moment does not allow for a private moment or a chance to talk to each other. When Dad or whoever walks the bride down the aisle, the ceremony starts and there is no chance for a sweet exchange or moment with the couple.
Many of my couples do private vows or notes with each other and often times exchange gifts with each other during this time. It’s a special moment for my couples. At my most recent wedding, Curtis said to Teresa, “I’m so glad we did this.” And guess what? He wasn’t sold on the idea of a First Look in the beginning.
So funny story: did you know where the tradition of waiting to see each other actually came from? Back in the day girls were considered property of their fathers. Arranged marriages were how things were handled, much like business transactions. The bride and groom NEVER met before the ceremony, and they didn’t want the groom getting cold feet because he thought she was ugly, so he literally never saw her until the ceremony! This is why veils were used to cover up the bride’s face as well. How crazy is that?!
This private moment with Teresa and Curtis was perfect! They had a sweet moment, read heartfelt cards to each other, and opened gifts with each other.
3) Goodbye to Nerves– Many of my couples tell me that seeing each other earlier in the day takes away many of the nerves they felt earlier in the day. There’s something special about having a moment with your special person that can calm you! It’s more relaxed on both ends (mine and yours) and less rushed if we do pictures before the wedding. Also, you can get nearly all pictures done before the ceremony, so more time after the wedding to spend partying with your guests!
Tyler told me later that he was very happy they did a First Look as it took away a lot of the jitters from the day!
4) Take Advantage of the Venue– Clients pick their venues because they love how it looks. If your venue is a location that is larger with a lot of photo spots, then a First Look allows you to take advantage of the space. When couples don’t do a First Look, we are limited to one to two locations after the ceremony. We can’t spend time walking all over the venue after the ceremony to get pictures all over the place. Plus, if your venue is near other locations nearby, you can take advantage of those places as well!
Jenna and Tanner’s wedding last fall at Lewallen Farms is exactly why I love a First Look! Their venue allowed for us to take off roading golf carts and take advantage of the gorgeous venue! Without a First Look, we wouldn’t have had time to visit these different locations around the property!
Katie and Kevin last year had a First Look (after first not wanting one) and both of them agreed it was an amazing decision to do so. We went to Barrington Hall near their venue at Ivy Hall and took pictures for their First Look there first and then went over to the Roswell Mill and the venue to take pictures. With First Looks, I love taking advantage of locations near a venue if they are close by!
5) Get to the Party Sooner– Another great thing about doing a First Look is we don’t have to spend an hour on the backend of the wedding taking pictures. We do the extended family pictures afterwards, but everything else is done beforehand which allows for the couple to get to the party sooner! We can either shorten the cocktail hour to a cocktail 20-30 minutes or keep the cocktail hour and go join your guests.
Andie and Chandler did a First Look earlier in the day, so after their ceremony we literally took 10 minutes of pictures and then drove over to the reception for a quick entrance after the guests were seated!
I normally have about half of my couples come in without the interest of a First Look, but once I share my personal account and share as a photographer why I am passionate about First Looks, almost all of them do it. I basically tell them, is it more important for you to have more pictures or see each other for the first time walking down the aisle?
Hear me when I say this, I will NEVER force a couple to do a First Look if they do not wish to do one. I always ask them to talk about it when I’m not around and decide later between the two of them. I never want them to feel pressured to do one. I will always share my experience and why I like doing them, but if they still want to wait to see each other, then I respect that and won’t bring it up again. I can still get them great pictures for their wedding day!
Anyone in blog-world do a First Look? What was your experience in having one?