chris loring

wedding photographer

March 23, 2017

Should We Do a First Look? Thoughts from a Wedding Photographer (And Former Bride!)

The first look is somewhat of a debated topic.

Do you see your partner before the wedding ceremony, or do you uphold tradition and wait for the walk down the aisle?

‘Should we do a first look?’is a question I am asked by a lot of my couples. My thoughts on it always require some typing, so I thought it would be fun to put it all out there in a blog post for you!

I will preface this by saying that my personal belief lies in the idea that you have to do what feels right to you. When you look back at your wedding day, what memories do you want to have? What memories do you feel will be the most important?

I never push my couples to choose one over the other, but I can provide some solid advice and ideas. I 100% respect either choice that is made, and as these things go, we always make it work! This is about you and your day. Do what feels right.

Reasons to skip the first look, and stick with tradition:

-Anticipation! If you love that feeling of waiting, anticipation, and the adrenaline rush that comes from a big moment, this may be a good way to go. Watching a bride walk down the aisle towards her partner, and seeing her partner looking at her is truly incredible.

-It’s traditional. If you are traditional or superstitious, this is something you may have always looked forward to.

-It makes showing off your respective wedding day looks that much more fun to keep in secret leading up to this moment.

-Older generations generally understand and accept this tradition much more than the newer ‘First Look’ tradition.

-Because not much else other than getting ready happens before the ceremony, the overall day and timeline may be shorter – which can be good if you find long days and lots of excitement exhausting.


We all know what the traditional walk down the aisle looks and feels like, so not much more is needed on that topic other than the assurance that I do everything I can to make sure you absolutely do not see each other before hand.

One thing to keep in mind when making this decision, is how long is your walk and the aisle? Some venues have extremely short aisles and the moment is over as soon as it begins – others have a long walk towards the alter that help build excitement (but possibly also nerves). Consider these things when thinking about how you want to feel on that day.

Reasons to choose a first look:

-First looks are done in as much privacy as we can find, often just the two of you with us as photographers working from afar. For this reason, the moment is no less special than the traditional version – it’s just different. Go with your gut on this one.

-For many couples, a first look alleviates a lot of nervous tension and build up leading to the ceremony. Everybody always feels amazing after they’ve done it, because it’s followed by endorphins. I encourage talking, laughter, prayer. . .peaceful moments together during this time without eyes on you.

-The walk down the aisle can be short, and not only are you focusing on your partner and taking it all in, but there are nerves that come from knowing all of your guests are watching you (and possibly even photographing you too!). As a former bride, I can 100% say I hardly remember walking down the aisle. By seeing each other before the ceremony, you can calm your nerves and aren’t forced to take it all in quite as fast.

-It is no secret that first looks make for much easier and more relaxed timelines; with a first look we can then take care of the wedding party (and possibly even family) photos before the ceremony

-You’ll have more time to spend with your partner on your wedding day overall, and because we’ll have front-loaded some of the big photos, you may even get to spend some time with your guests during cocktail hour.


To give you an idea of what a first look is like, know this. I am extremely hands-off with first looks and only ask your preferences in regards to how you want to see each other (stand back and have your partner turn around to see the full view, or walk up to him and tap him/her on the shoulder). I scout a private location and coordinate getting both of you there without having wedding party or family follow us with their cameras (unless that is what you want of course!).

Once I’ve got you set up, we leave you to see each other and talk, pray, hug, laugh, and let go of all of that nervous tension together.

Only when you are ready and come to me do we move on with the day.



One of the most beautiful sentiments I’ve ever heard regarding a first look is when a groom saw one of the images and said this:

“It was so awesome, standing there. I could hear her behind me, shuffling her dress, and then I could smell her, and I knew my bride was right there behind me. I turned around and couldn’t believe this gorgeous woman was going to be my wife. I’ll never forget that.”

Every couple that I’ve worked with who chose to do a first look said it was one of their favorite parts of the day; on the contrary, my couples who chose the traditional route have as of yet never mentioned regretting it. So you really do just have to do what feels right for you. We can always make a timeline work either way!

Side note, another beautiful moment to consider is a first look with parents. They are almost always incredibly emotional.

I hope this helps you decide whether or not to choose a first look. There is no right or wrong answer here!

I would love to hear from Couples in the comments below. Who chose a first look? Who didn’t? What made it special for you?



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