Wedding First Looks – I do…. not

Wedding First Looks – Love it or Leave it?

For a majority of those individuals getting married, it is their first time. However, even if it’s not your first wedding, you may not be aware of the prevalence and popularity of the first look in the last decade. It’s become as classic as the first dance on your wedding day. Even if you decided against a first look, I guarantee you had a discussion about it. If even the groom and groomsmen have heard of it, it has solidified it’s place on the Americanized wedding traditions. Nonetheless, I’m here to educate on why you really (probably) don’t need a first look. This wedding photographer says I do NOT to wedding first looks.

First things first, the origin story of the first look has to be a photographer confession. I’m positive that this trend was created by a wedding photographer. Why? The real reason the first look is even a thing or requested is because we realized that the first look makes OUR day easier.  Timeline wise it front loads many of the wedding photos and somehow we managed to convince all the couples it was better for them too. Most likely, the tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding ceremony is outdated anyway. It stemmed from the terrible tradition of arranged marriages when it was a business transaction.

It’s Your Day – First Looks Optional

The most important thing is this is your day. It’s just the two of you, a day you invested hundreds of hours of planning, untold amounts of money for your vision of the day. If there’s any day for you to pull the “customer’s always right,” it is your wedding day. Of course, you pay professionals to advise you of both options but if its important to you, make time for it. There are some people that have pictured their day since they were little and know a first look is important to them and some that prefer to wait until the walk down the aisle. Both (or other options) are perfect if they are authentically you.

Funny enough, the wedding first look, in my opinion, is not even better for photographers. If you have a great professional wedding photographer, they know that they can still get some of the photos done before the ceremony without the first look. They also know that couples are usually more relaxed and themselves after the ceremony for photos. Below is an example of the most common timeline I see when there is not a wedding first look.

No First Look Timeline

Before Your Ceremony

  • 1:30-2:30pm: Detail shots of your dress, jewelry, shoes, vows, rings, tie, watch, pocket square, and other mementos like your something new, old, borrowed, and blue.
  • 2:30-3:15pm: Getting into your dress, your parents seeing you for the first time. The groom dressing and hanging out with friends.
  • 3:30-4:00pm: Photos of bride, bridesmaids, and bride’s immediate family.
  • 4:00-4:35pm: Photos of groom or partner, groomsman, and their immediate family.
  • 4:35-5:10pm: Ceremony setup photos, reception setup photos (if done) cake etc.
  • 5:10-5:25pm: Guests arriving

After Your Ceremony

  • 5:30-6:00pm: Ceremony.
  • 6:00-6:20pm: Large family portraits and large bridal party
  • 6:20-7:00pm: Portraits of the newlywed couple.
  • 7:00-7:45pm: Dinner and if needed Ring Shots, Cake Photos, Table Photos
  • 7:50-8:10pm: Toasts and cake cutting.
  • 8:10-8:30pm: Sunset photos of newlywed couple (while cake is passed out)
  • 8:45-9:10pm: First dance and parent dances
  • 9:20 and on: Bouquet toss, garter toss, and open dancing. Plus anything else because you are MARRIED and it’s YOUR NIGHT!

Why have a First Look?

As you can see, there’s plenty of time for all the photos even without a first look and that does not have to mean that you are away from your guests longer. Check off immediate family, some bridal party photos as well as single photos all before the ceremony. That’s already 1/2 of the requested photos with the remainder of large photos done directly after the ceremony. Now you have at least 40 mins for the two of you in golden hour (if you want) with another 20 minutes during sunset time. I usually suggest scheduling the cake cutting right before so that guests can eat cake and the couple isn’t missing out on mingling. This wedding timeline also gives a break to those partners that don’t enjoy being the center of attention and taking photos. What you really need to ask yourself as a couple is do you want that first moment and memory to be private or public? Are you comfortable crying in front of 150 people or just you two (and a few photographers)? Many people like a first look for helping with the jitters or exchanging private vows and gifts.

Now, quickly a small disclaimer. There are a few wedding days that will need a first look. It’s usually because of the events or logistical necessities of the day that are unavoidable. However, it’s ok. It’s ok because you have professionals that will advise you and because you value something else more than doing a first look. Here are some of the reasons why you may need to do a wedding first look:

Reasons for a First Look

  • You have multiple locations for your wedding day.
  • You need a specific background for your couples’ portraits at a certain time.
  • Unique locations such as ski resorts with gondolas/lifts.
  • You have a large amount of family.
  • You have religious traditions over several days or with specific timing.
  • You want a private moment.

What do you think about first looks now? Are you in or out? Did I miss anything? Did you have one for your day? Let me know in the comments!



Venue: Crooked Willow Farm⁣
Photographer: Katie Corinne Photography⁣
HMUA: Blush Now⁣
Florist: Cosette’s Creations⁣
Dress: Casa Bianca Bridal⁣
Rentals: Event Rents⁣
Tuxes: Men’s Warehouse⁣
DJ: DJ Connection
Caterer/Cake: Occasions Catering⁣







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