5 Reasons to Have a First Look | Wedding Tips

I can’t believe it’s taken me six years to write this post! The First Look is something I feel strongly about, and I should have written about it long ago. I’m making up for that with today’s Wedding Tips photography installment. The First Look is an amazing part of the wedding day! If you aren’t sure about this new tradition, this post will explain why it is a romantic addition to your wedding day celebration that not only adds to the experience but also reduces stress.

The First Look is considered untraditional by some, since the bride and groom are choosing to see each other before the ceremony. However, I fully believe that the First Look is the new tradition, and will soon be more common in weddings than not (ask me how the original “tradition” got started. It’s the farthest thing from romantic!). In fact, most of our clients choose to have one. However, some couples, and especially grooms, need a little more convincing.

So, let’s jump right in! Here are my TOP 5 REASONS to have a First Look:


It’s Easier on the Timeline

Most brides and grooms want to get to the celebration part of the day as soon as possible. The First Look allows that to happen! If you and your groom see each other before the ceremony, we can go ahead and get all the photos that the day requires ahead of time. In turn, you get to move on to your reception right after the ceremony! You don’t have to miss your cocktail hour, and guests aren’t waiting around for an hour to congratulate you. You can mingle with your guests and enjoy being married. I have photographed hundreds of weddings, and the LAST thing a newly married couple wants to do is take photos for an hour and a half. You want to celebrate! With a First Look, you can. Your photos are done, so you can go be with your loved ones and enjoy your day. We can get you to your reception so much sooner!



The First Look also allows us time to shoot your reception details. You’ve spent months, and a lot of money, planning your wedding. We want to make sure you will have beautiful photos of all your hard work! Since all the portrait photos are done, we have time to get these photos during cocktail hour before guests enter the reception area.

Conversely, if you choose not to have a First Look, we not only have to take all the formal family photos, but photos of the bridal party all together as well as all your portrait photos. At this point, our main concern is getting you to your reception, so we don’t have all the time necessary for lots of creative photos. We’re lucky if we get 10 minutes with the bride and groom alone after the ceremony. Which brings me to point number two…

You get more photos!

With a First Look, we can take all the time we want for creative portraits! If having beautiful, artful photos is important to you (and chances are that if you’ve hired us, they are!), then the First Look is the way to go. Since no one will be waiting for you after the ceremony, we can schedule all the photos beforehand and take as much time as you want. This allows us to roam the wedding property, look for beautiful light, and take some gorgeous wedding photos. We aren’t rushed, so it’s a relaxed, fun time, which means less stress for you! We have more time, so you get more photos. Also, it’s such a special moment that some of our favorite wedding photos have even happened during the First Look!


You WILL get photos of the first time he sees you

You’ve heard it dozens of times before… brides have been planning their wedding since they were little girls! It’s true. But what a bride looks forward to most on her wedding day is that moment when her groom sets his eyes on her for the first time. They can’t wait for his reaction! With a First Look, you will have photos of your groom’s reaction for the rest of your lives. You’re guaranteed to have that moment documented forever.

The groom’s reaction is VERY difficult to catch during the ceremony. There are just so many things happening, and so many unforeseen variables, that we can’t guarantee we will catch that moment when he sees you for the first time. We may be delegated to the back of the church (or worse, not even allowed to take photos in the church!), Uncle Bob may stand up and get in my way, or a guest’s flash may go off and ruin my shot (this actually did happen once!). With a First Look, you are guaranteed that photo… and so much more!



It calms the groom (and sometimes the bride!)

The groom is well aware that all eyes will be on him when his bride comes down the isle. Will he cry? Will he grin? Will he bounce up and down with excitement? Wedding days are nerve-racking enough without all that pressure! But with a First Look, the groom has already seen his bride, without a hundred pairs of eyes on him. She’s already had time to hold his hand, kiss him, and calm his nerves. We’ve had so many grooms tell us that they were so glad that they did the First Look! Without it, they would have been even more nervous.

Sometimes, it does the same thing for the bride. True story: We once had a couple that thankfully chose a First Look. As we were getting the groom set up in a beautiful, private courtyard, he was more than ready to see his bride. But as I began to walk her toward him, she felt light-headed and overwhelmed. She literally had to sit down for a few minutes. Then, when she was ready, she walked up behind him, and he turned around and took her into his arms. Only then was everything okay. She just needed to be with him. Later, she walked calmly down the isle toward him. She told us later that if she hadn’t done a First Look beforehand, there’s no way she could have made it down that isle!


It’s the only way the bride and groom can spend some time alone

I saved my favorite reason to have a First Look for last. It’s also the most overlooked reason. It’s something that no one really thinks about (aren’t you guys glad you have me to point these things out?). Unless you choose a First Look, the bride and groom will have no time alone together! Isn’t it ironic? On a day that’s all about the two of you, you don’t get to enjoy any of it alone.

The First Look allows the two of you to have a private, intimate moment together. We don’t let anyone watch. It’s just the two of you. Unlike at the altar, he can tell you how beautiful you look, hug you, whisper in your ear, and tell you how much he loves you. Afterward, we will go right into portraits and you will have a minimum of 30-60 minutes alone with each other to just enjoy your wedding day (and take some beautiful, romantic portraits!).


Contrary to what most grooms think, the First Look does NOT ruin that moment his bride walks down the isle. The two are completely different. The First Look is romantic and intimate, a special time just for the two of you. That moment you come down the isle is all excitement, nerves, and energy. It’s a “here we go!” moment, and there’s nothing you can do to take that away! We’ve had grooms who never shed a tear during the First Look to absolutely cry like a baby when his bride comes down the isle toward him just a couple hours later. You can’t predict how you will feel in that moment, and you won’t know until it happens. It’s special every single time, no matter what!

Memphis Cadre Wedding


Now, all that being said… our clients are not required to do a First Look by any means! Your wedding day is YOUR day, and we will be there no matter what you choose. We understand that some couples feel very strongly about not seeing each other before the ceremony, and that’s okay too! However, we’ve seen from experience that most couples aren’t even aware of the best reasons to do a First Look. We hope this post has opened your eyes and made it easier for you to make that decision.


  • Jillian L.
    Posted at 01:43h, 03 August

    We’d decided a year ago to have a wedding because we felt our families deserved it (I’m sure I’m not the only one, but it sure feels lonely over here.) Months later, it’s August 3rd, and I’m up at 12 A.M. although I have to be up again in a few hours for work. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting married on August 26th (yes, 3 weeks from now), and I’m scared, stressed out and confused. I never wanted a wedding–I feel like it’s just in stark contrast to the marriage itself which is for my fiance and I, and a wedding just…isn’t. I thought I’d grow to love the idea of a wedding as time passed, but that never happened.

    After agonizing over day-of wedding schedules, I found this article and just want to thank you for writing it. I was bent on not having my fiancé set eyes on me until I’m walking down the aisle (go big or go home at this point, right?), but I didn’t explore all of the reasons a First Look was worth it… AT ALL.

    After reading your blog post, I’d gone from an unhappy bride-to-be, to a hopeful, romance-reunited fiancee who can’t wait for the moment her husband-to-be looks at her for the first time on their wedding day–one on one. For the first time in months I’m looking forward to our wedding because I know that we’ll have moments that only we’d have shared and they’ll be captured for us!

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Amy
      Posted at 17:43h, 21 August

      Jillian, I can’t thank you enough for your comment! I’m so so glad I was able to assuage some of your fears. I hope and pray that your wedding day is even better than your dreams! Enjoy it!