What Is A Wedding First Look And Why You Should Do One

What is a wedding first look?

Doing a first look is a new trend taking wedding days to the next level. It is an opportunity for the photographer to capture photos of the groom seeing the bride for the first time in a private spot at the venue. It could also be the father seeing his daughter for the first time on her wedding day as a bride which is also super sweet. A lot of my couples do both!

But what about tradition? The superstition that the groom seeing the bride before the ceremony on the wedding day is bad luck comes from a time of arranged marriages. Since the marriage was a business deal between the 2 father’s, the bride’s father wanted the groom to wait until the last possible second to see his bride so that he couldn’t back out of the deal. This is also partly why veils covered bride’s faces. So don’t worry, you already know what each other look like!

First Look at Trolley Square First look at Trolley Square

The biggest concern I hear from brides is that it will lessen the reaction of the groom seeing them walk down the aisle. This is simply not true, groom’s are still as emotional seeing their bride walk down the aisle. In fact, you will get more time to live in those emotions by doing a first look before the ceremony since you will be getting 2 reactions instead of 1!

Groom seeing his bride walk down the aisle for the first time, after doing a first look!

Groom seeing his bride walk down the aisle for the first time, after doing a first look!

So how does it work? Make sure your photographer knows upfront that you want to do a first look. You will want to add in about 15-30 minutes to your timeline for the first look and portraits. It usually takes place after you both are finished getting ready (hair, makeup, wedding dress is on).

If you have a beautiful location in mind for the first look, let your photographer know. If not, they can find a nice spot for you. The key for the location is that it be hidden from your guests so they can’t see you yet. You also want it to be roomy enough to fit you both and your photographer can easily get lots of angles of your reactions. Even light is preferable, but your photographer will manage whatever lighting situation is available.

Typically, I have the bride walk up behind the groom and tap him on the shoulder. There are lots of variations though. You could use a corner and both walk towards each other or just close your eyes then open them at the same time.

First Look between bride and groom before ceremony with a red barn corner

Why you should do a wedding first look:

1. More beautiful and romantic photos of you two!

The wedding day goes by so fast! You will get swept up in greeting all of your guests and celebrating that sometimes time gets away from you. The husband and wife photos are always shortened when running late (though those are the most important images of the day besides your first kiss and the groom seeing the bride for the first time). Couples that do a first look get TEN TIMES more portraits than couples that don’t!!! Way more options for you to print and cherish for the rest of your life!

2. Gives you quiet time alone together on your wedding day!

Believe it or not there is little alone time for the bride and groom until the reception is over. I am actually with the bride more on the wedding day than the groom is! Doing a wedding day first look gives you time to be together alone and really soak it all in. Without a first look, couples are surrounded by their friends and family the whole day which is fun but you are not marrying them. You are marrying each other!

3. Your guests don’t have to wait so long for you after the ceremony.

Couples that want a lot of portraits but not a first look have to leave their guests for more than an hour to take husband and wife photos. A lot of guests get bored during cocktail hour and would much rather be celebrating with you!

4. Calms both of your nerves!

One of the best benefits of the first look is that it helps calm the wedding day jitters. Believe it or not, some grooms can get too overwhelmed seeing their bride for the first time walking down the aisle. They are so nervous! I’ve also seen situations where brides are overwhelmed with tears of joy during the ceremony, so much so that they barely remember what the officiant was saying. Couples that do a first look, are much more focused and aware of what is happening during the ceremony. And yes, the groom’s still have the sweetest reaction to seeing their brides walk down the aisle!

5. Gives you time for something special alone together.

There are some things that are so intimate you don’t want to share them with all of your guests. You only want to share them with each other. You can exchange gifts with each other, your own private vows, or even pray together. A first looks is the perfect time to do those things alone together and get some beautiful photos in the process.


First look of bride and groom at villa sienna

Though I HIGHLY recommend all brides and grooms do a wedding day first look, I get that it is not for everyone and that is totally fine! Here are a couple of other options for some sweet portraits though:

Take bride and groom photos before the wedding day!

This is very popular for Utah brides and grooms. It is often referred to as “bridals” or “formals”. I love this idea because we can go somewhere beautiful (doesn’t have to be your venue) and take portraits with pretty sunset lighting for an hour or two. It is stress-free because we don’t have a timeline or people waiting on us. You get awesome extra portraits. As well as an awesome first look on the aisle a few weeks later!

Do a first look without “looking”

This is a great option if you want to keep tradition, but also add a tender, sweet moment with your husband to be on the wedding day. I have had couples that just touch hands around a corner and say a prayer together without seeing each other. You can also talk to each other through a door or back to back. You could both be blindfolded perhaps. This option almost gives you the best of both worlds because you get some alone time together before the ceremony as well as the reaction of seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony.

Do a first look with someone you love besides your fiance!

Usually bride’s and their father will do a special first look. But I also know brides that have done it with their bridesmaids, best friends or other family members. Hey you could even setup a first look of yourself in your dress. That is full of emotion too!

Bride's father seeing her for the first time on her wedding day!

Bride’s father seeing her for the first time on her wedding day!


I love love love first looks! They produce the most beautiful photos of such sweet emotions! I would love to hear what you think of doing a first look! If you are already married, did you do one?




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What Is A Wedding First Look And Why You Should Do One