It Feels like the First Time - Perfecting the wedding first look

We all know about that moment. The moment the doors are pulled open, the curtains are pushed back, and after that first split second of all eyes on the bride, you glance over to see the look of excitement on the groom’s face.  Ever since the movie “27 Dresses” called attention to capturing that moment, it can be difficult to consider an alternative. What if we told you you can have both that special moment AND time together pre- and post-ceremony? Enter: first looks. 

What is a first look exactly? It is when couples choose to see each other before the ceremony. It often starts with the groom’s back to the bride while the bride approaches from behind. Give a little tap on the shoulder (or a booty squeeze if you are so inclined) and you end up with shots like these:

Looking through the lens of planning, waiting all day for the ceremony can mean a mad dash of pictures and portraits post-ceremony. It can mean missing out on cocktail hour. It can mean losing daylight for photos (thank you Wisconsin winters). Here’s what it can mean if you budget out the time for a first look.

A more intimate moment between bride and groom!

With a first look, get all wedding party photos ahead of the ceremony!

  • Hair and makeup are super fresh!
  • Get to spend more of the day with your partner!
  • After a few family photos post-ceremony, go enjoy cocktail hour!

Tips for a perfect first look experience can include planning the location ahead of time, ensuring enough time is allocated, and making sure your photographer is well-informed about your preferences.

We know what you’re thinking. “Won’t that take away from our ceremony moment? You know, the one you talked about at the beginning of this article?” We often find that the first moments of a wedding ceremony still feel extra special, even with a first look. Why? Because it IS special! Grooms report back that seeing their partner at the back of the aisle holds just as much emotion because it’s all real now. In fact, some of those nerves are shaken off because they’ve had their moment to ground themselves in the reality of the day and can now focus on the pure excitement. And trust us, you will still get shots like these:


Looking for a compromise? Want to be with your partner without actually seeing them? Many couples choose to do an “around the corner” shot. You can hold their hand, read letters to each other, and still keep the dress a surprise for the ceremony.

This is a personal choice and there are plenty of factors to consider. For example, how early the ladies will need to be ready. Doing a first look will mean an earlier start time because a majority of your pictures will take place before the ceremony. If your ceremony is already early in the day (most commonly at a church) then it might not be an option to get ready any earlier. Choosing to wait to see each other until the ceremony can also mean a more relaxed morning/afternoon since everyone won’t need to be ready until they head to the venue. 

Considering a first look? We suggest beginning with having an honest conversation with your partner to gauge how you both feel about it. Then get your vendors involved! Talk to your photographer. Ask for first look shots they’ve done before. Talk to your planner (hi!). Discuss how this fits into the timeline. And always remember it is your day! Do what is best for you and your partner. Whatever decision you make is the right one! 


And we will leave you with this epic first look involving a hilarious best man.

The actual bride!