Wedding Planning: Should you do a first look?


Whether you’re having a large wedding or planning a small intimate affair, there are huge benefits to doing a first look. If the bride and groom are willing to see each other before the ceremony, there is much more time for photography. We can easily include two hours of pre-ceremony photos in your wedding planning timeline. Typically, we start with the first look, then let the couple spend about five or ten minutes hugging, kissing, and talking. This makes for really touching and beautiful candid images.

Next, we work with the bridal party, including everyone together, bride and her bridesmaids, and groom and his groomsmen. Because we have plenty of time, we can try different locations and formations, and take photos of the bride and groom with each of their attendants. During this time, we have fun and make sure everyone is enjoying the picture-taking process. This is a great way to warm everyone up before the ceremony. If there isn’t a bridal party, we can use this time to take family photos, or to travel to an off-site location.

Once we’re done working with bridal party, we spend at least 45 minutes with the bride and groom, traveling around the property and getting as much variety as possible. Stress is minimized because you’re not on a time crunch, and it’s much more relaxed.

When we photograph weddings that don’t include a first look, there are many challenges because of the tight timeline. Before the ceremony, we can photograph the bride with her bridesmaids and the groom with his groomsmen, but everything else has to be done after the ceremony. This means that we will have a total of one hour MAX to capture everything. Family formals take twenty minutes, bridal party takes twenty minutes, and the bride and groom are left with twenty minutes of portraits. The entire time we’re working with the couple, the coordinator is following us around saying, “Are you almost done with pictures? We have resting meat.” This is a crime when you’ve spent a fortune on your venue, wedding gown, hair and makeup, and decor. I’ve had as little as ten minutes alone with the bride and groom. Can you imagine spending $30,000 on a wedding, and you’re left with a handful of portraits of you and your husband or wife? That’s a waste of money.




Most couples don’t understand the tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding, yet they continue to abide by this custom. This ritual dates all the way back to Bible times, when Jacob married Leah. But he was supposed to be marrying Rachel.

Jacob and Rachel were deeply in love, so Jacob agreed to work for her father Laban for seven years to earn her hand in marriage. (That’s dedication!) When the seven years were up, a wedding feast was prepared. During those times, an official wedding ceremony wasn’t held. Instead, they celebrated at a feast with their families and fellow worshipers, then the bride and groom had sexual relations to seal their marriage.

As the marriage feast continued, Jacob was unaware that the woman sitting next to him wasn’t Rachel, but was her sister Leah, cloaked in a heavy veil. He later took her to the marriage bed, where he had relations with her in the pitch dark. In the morning, Jacob woke to find that he had married the wrong sister, at the urging of their father!

What was Laban’s thinking? It was tradition in Bible times that the younger sister can not marry until her older sisters are married. Jacob was angry, but he fulfilled his role as husband to Leah, as divorce was not an option for a Christian during those times. Laban required Jacob to work seven more years for Rachel’s hand in marriage, and he did so. When those seven years were up, he married Rachel, and had two wives throughout the rest of his life, which brought him many problems.

Why are couples still abiding by this ancient practice? Because their mothers did, and their grandmothers, and other brides they know. They are told by older relatives, bridesmaids, friends, and sometimes priests, that it’s “bad luck” to see each other before the wedding, but that is not where this tradition came from. It came from a place of deceit. So when your mother says, “You can NOT see him before the wedding! It is bad luck!” you can explain why that’s not the case.


What do our clients think?

Kayla and Robert did a first look and loved the experience! She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Q: Why did you choose to do a first look?
A: We chose to do a first look for a more intimate way of seeing each other. We were both nervous about seeing each other for the first time in front of all of our guests.
Q: How did your first look benefit you on your wedding day?
A: I’ll say it definitely helped with nerves for sure. It was also beneficial to the timeline for the wedding since we were able to do all of our portraits before the ceremony.
Q: Did it make your day more special? Did it make the moment of seeing each other for the first time more special?
A: It was one of my favorite parts of my wedding day! All of my wedding party and closest family were there for the first look, making it even more special. My dad even played a joke before I came out and surprised my husband as if he were me. Lots of laughs and happy tears!
Q: Did it take away from the special moment of you walking down the aisle?
A: Not at all! If anything, it helped make walking down the aisle not so awkward.
Q: Do you regret doing a first look?
A: No! I’ve recommend it to everyone I know that’s getting married!
These are typical responses from our clients who do first looks. We’ve never had a client say, “I wish we had waited until the ceremony to see each other.” Instead, they say how much more special it is and how convenient it is. Imagine having as much time as you’d like to explore your venue and surrounding area with your bride or groom, without being rushed. It’s definitely a great option to alleviate stress on your wedding day.
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