For Brides

On First Looks • Advice for Brides

A first look describes a time when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day before the ceremony. They are set up somewhere private and beautiful. The bride will approach the groom from behind, tapping him on the shoulder when it’s time to turn around for the reveal.

For some brides, you might be thinking “but why would I want to break from tradition?” You may have always dreamed about your groom seeing you for the first time as you come down the aisle. Let’s look back at the origin of this tradition. Originally, couples in arranged marriages would be seeing each other for the first time ever as the bride came down the aisle. They wouldn’t be allowed to see each other before the ceremony so they didn’t have the opportunity to back out of the arrangement if they didn’t like the look of their spouse-to-be. Not so romantic, right? 

I’m not shy about admitting that I’m a huge fan of first looks. And not for the reason you may think! I love first looks because they are intimate and emotional. They celebrate the commitment of two people to each other, for each other. Best of all, the first look isn’t for anybody else but the couple. It’s real and so very honest. Here are some of the other reasons why I believe that a first look is the way to go:


Grooms tend to be a lot more emotional and relaxed when they aren’t the centre of attention. Private first looks allow for people to breathe and just be with their love on their wedding day. It also means that you get to spend a lot more of your wedding day with each other. I especially love when people read letters to each other that are longer than personalized vows! Some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed at a wedding have been during this letter exchange.


This one is the obvious benefit of having a first look. Without a first look, you’ll need to fit in your wedding party portraits (full party + just bridesmaids + just groomsmen), family portraits, and bride & groom portraits all in the time between your ceremony and reception. This means either we’re being rushed or your guests are left waiting while we do photos. Here’s what your schedule could look like if you do opt for a first look:

2.5 hours pre-ceremony: First look and some Bride & Groom portraits
2 hours pre-ceremony: Bridal Party Portraits
1.5 hours pre-ceremony: Family Portraits
1 hour pre-ceremony: More Bride & Groom Portraits (different location on or offsite)
30 minutes pre-ceremony: Completely done portraits as your guests arrive. This gives you time to breathe, freshen up, and relax before the ceremony.

Alternatively, you could do family portraits after the ceremony and the rest before.


The built up anticipation of seeing your beloved on your wedding day causes inevitable jitters. Getting this done (in private no less) can make couples feel a lot more relaxed going into the ceremony. Also, there’s nothing more calming than seeing your best friend and giving them a hug before such a big event. First looks give couples a time to connect and decompress together before they tie the knot.


Having portraits with a sunset ceremony is virtually impossible unless you opt for a first look. This is because the natural light will be gone after the sunset, of course! So if you’ve always dreamed of saying your vows as the sun dips below the horizon, then a first look will be necessary.

There’s no one perfect style or structure of weddings. It’s so important to be true to what you want to prioritize on your wedding day. If a first look sounds like something you’d be interested in, definitely consider it. If you’re set on seeing your love for the first time as you walk down the aisle, that’s perfectly wonderful as well. It’s your day. Keep in mind that a first look does not make the look your groom will give you as you walk down the aisle any less magical. It’s still a beautiful moment as your family and friends look on to celebrate your love. I hope this post has shed some light on the options that are available to you for your wedding day!

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