Should We Do a First Look for Our Wedding Pictures?

Something you need to consider before your wedding day is the moment where you will be seeing your partner all dressed up in their wedding garb for the first time. I know a lot of photographers put an emphasis on doing a first look for your wedding pictures, but I’ve never been one to go […]

Something you need to consider before your wedding day is the moment where you will be seeing your partner all dressed up in their wedding garb for the first time. I know a lot of photographers put an emphasis on doing a first look for your wedding pictures, but I’ve never been one to go with the grain and I’m all for keeping wedding days meaningful to the couple. When my husband and I saw each other for the first time on our wedding day, it genuinely was one of the happiest moments of our lives, and there wasn’t a single pro photographer around. I jumped out of the car in my wedding dress and we ran up to each other in tears, and gave each other a big hug and cried about how happy we were to see each other. It wasn’t what most people would do, but it was perfect for us. This may surprise you a bit because of my awkward habit of talking too much when I’m nervous, but my husband and I are both a little shy and private about certain things, and I know we would have felt uncomfortable having our first look in front of a camera or large group of people. This is why I think it’s important to talk about that moment ahead of time and find a good fit for you and your partner.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed while photographing weddings. Hopefully it helps you in planning out that special moment.

 first look disneyland hotel

Pros of Having a First Look for Your Wedding Pictures:

1) I’ve noticed some couples are visibly nervous until they are finally able to see each other. Having a first look may help some couples relax before the ceremony.

2) You may have more time to spend with your guests, because you won’t be taking family photos between the ceremony and the reception.

3) You will have more photos of the two of you because you wont need to take family photos between the ceremony and the reception.

4) Even when couples inform their families to wait after the ceremony for photos, it never fails. There will be at least one uncle in the restroom, one parent tracking down a wedding item, and one cousin at the pre-reception with a drink already in hand, wondering where everyone is. What immediately follows is one bridal party member leaving to track down the missing family members, while other family members wait in frustration for everyone else to show up. Always. :p

5) Everyone’s  hair and makeup will still be fresh if you do photos before the wedding ceremony.

6) If your ceremony is happening at night or as the sun sets, a first look would make it so you have photos of everyone in the sunlight. This is the only situation where I will strongly suggest having a first look to one of my couples.


If You Decide to have a First Look:

Think of whether or not you want it to be private and how private you would like it to be. Some couples do not have a photographer present for their first look because they feel it will be awkward and they want it to be a special moment for just the two of them. Others may not mind having their entire bridal party watching and love planning out how it will be photographed. Think of what will be the most special for you and your partner, and ask your photographer for suggestions on how to make it happen. Let your family know ahead of time if you only want a photographer to be present so there isn’t any confusion or hurt feelings on the day of.

Pros of Waiting Until You Walk Down the Aisle:

Broken Earth Winery Wedding Photo

1) All your guests will be there to witness your reactions when you see each other for the first time.

2) For some, it may be less awkward to wait until the ceremony because your reaction can’t be seen and heard as closely as it is during a first look, when there will be cameras or video cameras pointed solely on the two of you.

3) Your family will not need to arrive early for pictures and then sit around waiting for the ceremony to begin.

4) You will have more time before the ceremony to relax or take bridal portraits, and you wont feel as rushed.

 5) If everything goes well and family members know what to do after the ceremony, it can be an easy transition from the ceremony to the photos.

If You Wait Until You Walk Down the Aisle:

Let all of your family members know to stay behind after the ceremony for family photos. Don’t assume they’ll know! Send them an e-mail or text and make sure you reach out to them individually. Have someone who knows everyone in charge of making sure family members stay behind (a bridesmaid/groomsman or sibling is great for this). This will make it so that family photos will be taken quickly and everyone can go and enjoy themselves at the most amazing celebration of the year. 🙂

Whatever you decide, make sure to talk it over with your photographer ahead of time so everyone is on the same page! With the three of you putting your heads together, you’ll be able to truly come up with the way that will be most meaningful and special for you as a couple.

2 thoughts on “Should We Do a First Look for Our Wedding Pictures?

  1. Great tips Jenna! I also think that it depends on your itinerary of the day. For example, we had a First Look in the wee hours of our wedding day because we needed to head into Disneyland for our Castle shoot. So it would’ve been weird to take that ride into the park without being able to see each other. lol Plus our day was also my hubby’s birthday and I wanted to give him a little gift so sort of having a first look and giving him his gift before “official” pictures began helped us. We only had our photographers and our planner with us but it still felt like it was just us. We both got emotional at that point and also during my walk down the aisle so I don’t think having a first look “took anything away” from our day.

    We also didn’t want to waste time after the ceremony for family pictures and hold everyone “hostage” for that so getting our formal pictures done before the ceremony allowed everyone to immediately begin the celebration. 🙂

    I think that if you don’t want a First Look and are doing formals after the ceremony then couples should definitely print out itineraries or text family to remind them of where they need to be. Maybe even have an announcement about that at the rehearsal dinner so guests no where they need to go.

    1. Great point, Hope! I think everyone should spend a few moments thinking about their day and planning out what will work best with their preferences, schedule, and the sun. 🙂 And yes, everyone should definitely print out an itinerary for family members. I have a list myself, but I don’t know what everyone looks like so I can’t stop people if they begin to leave and it’s always a challenge to send my assistant to find family members that she hasn’t seen before. 🙂

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