What Is a Wedding First Look and Why Do We Love It?

Some moments in life are just meant to be captured. When it comes to wedding photography, one such top-rated moment is the “first look.” So, what is a wedding first look?

A first look is typically a private moment between the bride and groom in their wedding finery before the ceremony. These moments get captured in pictures or videos to become cherished memories.

The first look hasn’t always been a wedding tradition (you’ve probably heard the ancient wedding superstition that the bride shouldn’t be seen before she walks down the aisle).

However, I love it when couples have a choice, so now that you know what a first look is, let’s determine why it’s right (or not) for you!

What Is A Wedding First Look
Photo by JackElope Photography

Why Would You Want to Do a First Look?

Did you fall in love at first sight? Maybe not, but you’re in love now, and believe me, the first time your new spouse sees you as a bride, it’s bound to be emotional.

Some brides envision putting on their dream dress and making a grand entrance for their wedding guests, but other brides get a bit more anxious. While happy tears are one thing, emotions get harder to stomach when stress gets added to the mix.

I think a first look offers bridal couples the best of both worlds.

When you designate private time before your ceremony, it means dressing for your new spouse and anticipating their beautiful reaction with joy and excitement. Many couples say it strengthens their newly married bond even more and can alleviate the stress of the grand bridal entrance.

By the way, the wedding superstition nonsense that the bride shouldn’t be seen before her wedding began with arranged marriages. People figured the bride or groom had a chance to bolt if they met the person chosen for them before the ceremony, so someone called it bad luck, and the notion lasted for centuries!

Where To Have Your First Look

lovely couple first look shoot at street
Photo by The McDonalds Photography

Where should you have your wedding first look? It can depend on a few things, and there’s more than one good answer.

Here’s what to think about:

Convenient Places for Your First Look

It’s common for the bride to get ready for her wedding with her bridesmaids in the same location, or they join her well before the ceremony for a pre-wedding photography session. If the bride is at her parents’ house, this can be a lovely setting for the first look photos and videos.

Speaking of the bride’s parents, we must tell you that a first-look wedding photo isn’t just for the newlyweds! Many brides take the first-look photo with their mom and their dad too. It’s an incredibly touching moment to capture your parents when they first see you in your wedding dress!

Is there a park nearby? Or maybe a beautifully appointed lobby in an apartment or other well-known location in a city (I love this article on wedding photography on stairs!).

Convenient locations for your first look often translate into less money and more time to enjoy that special moment. We’ll discuss that more in a bit!

First Look Spots That Mean Something to You

Many couples choose their first look spot based on where they had their engagement photos done.

It’s an amazing way to document your relationship, and if the location is close to where your ceremony is taking place, it’s both cool and convenient!

Taking First Look Pictures at Your Ceremony Location

the bride put her hands on the groom's shoulders before their first look
Photo by Mindee Malloy Photography

If you’re getting married at a church or temple setting and have access to the site before your wedding, it can be a profound location for your first look photos.

Alternatively, a ceremony and reception in one place offer the same convenience as taking pictures where the bride is getting reading for her big day.

But, of course, if yours is a destination wedding on an island or a cruise ship, just imagine your first look photos with a gorgeous paradise backdrop!

The Pros of a Wedding First Look

We favor any wedding first look, and we’ve covered most of the reasons why. Here’s a quick checklist of why wedding first looks are a great idea!

Less Stress

Sure, making a grand entrance is part of the excitement of being a bride, but enjoying an intimate first look beforehand can be far less stressful.

More Intimate

Not only does your partner get to see you for the first time (as they would if you were walking down the aisle), you get to share that intimate moment as one, and it’s wonderful.

Less Money

Depending on how long you’ve booked your wedding photographer and a separate wedding videographer, you should be able to schedule your first look photos with your bridal photography, family pictures, and the entire wedding party. Cost-effectiveness is always a plus!

Extra Time

One thing I remember about my wedding day was that my new hubby and I got pulled in different directions, especially during our reception. Your first look is an opportunity to have some quiet time together before the day gets too busy.

Any Cons of a Wedding Day First Look?

It’s hard for me to think of any cons with a wedding day first look, but you’re welcome to your own opinion as a bride.

Here are a few possible cons, depending on your situation:

More Preparation

Having the bulk of your wedding photos taken before your ceremony usually means you’ll have to prepare for your big day earlier.

For couples having a morning ceremony, consider that you’re looking at a pre-dawn wake-up call!

Less Surprise

If that surprise moment your partner sees you in your wedding dress is part of your vision of making a grand entrance at your ceremony, a wedding first look may put a damper on it.

Less Availability

There are many possible locations to take a first-look photo, but you need to ensure the site is available (a church, a lobby, popular destinations within your city). It’s not fun to get told on your wedding day that picture-taking isn’t allowed where and when you want!

Two FAQs About Wedding Day First Looks

groom waiting for his bride for the first look
Photo by Emily Ruth Photography

Are you still on the fence about a wedding day first look? No worries! Other brides have asked us some great questions about this subject, and here are the answers, FYI!

Can You Kiss During Your Wedding First Look?

I’m unsure if this goes back to that lousy superstition, but many brides wonder whether they can or should kiss during their first look. If you google it as I did, you may find an unscientific poll taken way back in 2014 on the subject!

Most brides in the online poll I saw said (very wisely) that you should just go with the flow. It’s totally natural to feel a surge of love during that first look, and if it leads to a kiss, bring it!

Other brides mentioned that they saved their kiss for the altar because it gave them something exciting to anticipate after saying their “I Dos.”

But, of course, this first look is yours, so let your hearts guide you.

Does a First Look Ruin the Ceremony?

I think the first look makes your ceremony even better! But as I mentioned already, if you’re excited about a big reveal to your family and friends at your wedding ceremony, including your soon-to-be spouse, I can’t see a first look being something you’ll want to do.

Either way, it’s your day as a newly married couple, and when you plan that special moment together (alone or at the altar), I bet it will be heartfelt and beautiful.

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