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the first look

I am a huge advocate for first looks, but I wasn’t always. We live in the south where weddings are deeply rooted in traditions, one of those being the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding! When I first started photographing weddings, I never even proposed first looks to my clients because it just seemed so taboo. Then, I had a few couples request to do them. And you just could not believe how much it made the wedding day BETTER. Since then, I have shot a LOT of first looks and I wanted to tell you why I firmly believe they will make your wedding day better!
I think the number one reason why people stick to the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding is because the girls want a REACTION from their groom. They think that the moment he sees her at the end of the aisle will be irreplaceable. Most couples think that “aisle” moment won’t be emotional if they see each other beforehand. What I have found is completely the opposite.
Weddings can be super stressful. And nerves and tension build throughout the day. Having a group of 80-300 people staring at the poor groom waiting for a reaction can cause him to be even more nervous. And when he finally does see her, he can’t touch her or tell her how stunning she is. It is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment! However, when sharing a first look, the grooms often times have even BETTER reactions to seeing their bride. They can embrace and kiss or cry or laugh. He can tell her how stunning she is to him. They can breath in the moment together. This is the ONLY time that day they can be alone together. A lot of couples use this moment as well to share letters with each other, exchange gifts or share a prayer for their wedding day. It is a beautiful intimate moment they will never forget! And after that moment, the nerves MELT away! And afterwards we can move straight into some portraits of the two of them while they are still feeling excited and in love.

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I want to note real quick too that first looks don’t take away from that aisle moment either. Grooms still react to it because they know it is the moment they are marrying their best friend! We have had grooms still tear up even after sharing a first look!

When couples share a first look, it also allows us to capture ALL their portraits BEFORE the ceremony begins. This is a huge advantage for SO many reasons. One, it allows us to take our time and not rush. We can be creative. We can travel to a cool location instead of the closest spot to the reception. There are no interruptions from wedding guests. We can have FUN because there isn’t a rush to get to the reception. Secondly, AFTER the ceremony, you can go straight to cocktail hour and actually ENJOY your guests and the party you are paying for! You can relax and enjoy knowing we have already captured all the portraits you dream of having for your wedding day!



Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look… AT ALL. This is totally up to the bride and groom. I used to feel bad for sharing this option and encouraging couples to do it but I’ve gotten over that phase. I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look!  It’s just my preference to do one:) Ok, now lets keep going.

Couples who opt for a First Look experience these benefits:

– You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography and with a first look, you get 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you decorate your first home with! This is a huge investment for you and so obviously your photography is a BIG deal. With a first look, you make the most out of this huge investment and get the most for your money.

– You actually get intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Normally, most people think walking down the aisle is the BIGGEST, most emotional moment of the whole day because that is what the tradition is. But people 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… he can’t touch you or embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 40 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 40 minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.

– First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time.  With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day.  The WHOLE first half of your wedding album will be filled with just images from this time together before the ceremony. You can have time to relax and get some great images with the people that I care about the most!

– First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. You can cry and laugh… and then that puts you in the PERFECT mood for romantic portraits. Normally portraits are rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other and I always capture some SWEET images during those moments!


– You get rid of the nerves. I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have done a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms that initially weren’t a fan of the first look.. but afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!


A few quotes from those who have shared first looks on their wedding day!

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“I was really skeptical about doing a first look, because everyone says you’re not supposed to see each other. We chose to do a first look to shorten the time between the ceremony and the reception for our guests. We are both so glad we did, and not just because it provided a quick turnaround. It was such a special moment between us, and it shook some of the nerves. Doing a first look did not take away from walking down the aisle, and Nick teared up both times!” Elisabeth & Nick

“We decided to do a first look so that we could do all of the family and bridal party pictures before the ceremony. It was a great decision! It cured all of our nerves, allowed us to have more time together during our wedding day, and provided us the opportunity to go straight to the reception after the ceremony to celebrate with family and friends! The first look was a priceless moment between Elijah and I and we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Many people think that the first look takes away from walking down the isle. That is definitely not true. Walking down the aisle was just as special because of the realization that you are about to marry the love of your life. I am very glad we chose to do a first look and I would recommend it to anyone! Tatum & Elijah


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“Michael and I had different opinions on a first look when we first talked about the possibility of doing one. My cousin choose to do one with his bride and their pictures turned out beautiful and the emotion captured, to me, was so beautiful. All the articles I read about a first look listed pros and cons. To me, and Michael as well, we both thought that the pros outweighed the cons. I would recommend a first look if its something that a bride is considering. We had time to take more pictures of us as a couple before the ceremony. It was such a relief as well to be able to see Mike and have time to talk to him. We were both very nervous and didn’t want to feel like we had to hold back our emotions because we had a crowd, if that makes sense. We were able to share that moment between ourselves and not be afraid a bunch of eyes on us.” Jordan

” It was great because I was able to really see HER and not all the other faces and reactions, I didn’t feel so self conscience about crying, haha, of course I still cried in front of everyone, but overall I was glad that we decided to do a first look.”

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“Leonel and I chose to do a first look because we are both very shy and quiet in front of people. This gave us a chance to warm up! Not to mention, we were able to take so many pictures before the wedding and I didn’t have to worry about if my hair was messed up or makeup smeared. If any of that happened, we still had time to fix it before the ceremony. Another advantage of doing the first look is that this is really the only time that you and your future husband are alone during the day. You can talk to each other without interruptions. I would definitely suggest a first look!” Kristen & Leonel


Hope this gives some insight on why I just love first looks!


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  1. […] hope you found this helpful!  Be sure to check out some other wedding planning tips such as the first look or 3 tips for ceremony […]

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  4. […] SEEING EACH OTHER BEFORE THE WEDDING. I think I have made it pretty clear that we are advocates for First Looks! If you need some convincing…read this […]

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