To First Look, or Not To First Look, that is the question! Is the First Look and modern concept, Yes! It was born from the growing movement behind fabulous wedding photo and video. As Wedding Planners we are all about the First Look, it creates opportunity for wedding couples to achieve their wedding photo and video goals. But it is not for everyone. What is the First Look, and what are the pros and cons of having one?

What is a First Look?

A “First Look” has throughout history been the moment a Groom sees his Bride enter the ceremony in her dress for the first time. Inclusively, it could be the moment a Bride sees her Bride or a Groom sees her Groom, or when one simply sees their love come into the room for the first time, just moments prior to their wedding ceremony. The First Look has generally been heralded as an important moment, particularly for photo and video, and most importantly, the memories they are capturing. The First Time you see your loved one, whether they are the one waiting, or the one walking down the isle, is emotional, captivating and will set the stage for the rest of your lives together. But to have this moment, the couple cannot see each other until the ceremony. Typically, photos only last the one hour during cocktail hour (from which cocktail hour was born, an hour for which guests to enjoy while the couple does photos), but how can you get elaborate photos and video in only one hour? Is it doable? Yes! Is it enough? Quite often not. Enter… the New First Look! A private experience prior to the wedding ceremony designed to give the couple their first look moment, but in the privacy of only themselves or their close families, hours before the wedding, giving them plenty of time for the photo and video teams to capture the beauty and essence of their special day.


As Wedding Planners we will always want to support the time it takes to support the couple and their vendors to produce the best possible product. Stellar Wedding Video & Photography is not a quick process, it takes time. Yes, there is a point where the artists are capturing experiences in the moment as the evening progresses, but to get the quality and quantity of photograhs and video footage needed to produce the best possible product, the team needs time. Come in, The First Look! Scheduled hours ahead of the ceremony, the Photographer and Video Teams set up a special moment where the couple sees each other for the first time, but it is a moment that can endure, that can last more than a few seconds before the officiant starts the ceremony. They experience that special sight of their love dressed up for their wedding ceremony, and can spend that time together enjoying that moment, then sharing in their excitement through planned out romantic couples photos, and even photos with their family and wedding party. The biggest pro is the time you gain together as part of that special day, creating photo and video moments that expand upon the exciting event ahead.

Another pro of a First Look is that feeling of not being rushed on your wedding day. With many of the formal wedding photos complete prior to the ceremony, the couple can focus on photos with their extended family and wedding party during cocktail hour, knowing that they have lots of special photos done, and more to come. They can relax, enjoy their guests, and maybe even enjoy some of that pricey cocktail hour!

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The main downside to the First Look is the tradition behind having it during the ceremony. When your guests are there they are playing witness to that special moment where a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day. It is a truly spectacular moment, traditional to centuries of weddings, and prior to power of photo and video, it was up to the guests to portray their excitement of that special moment upon the bride and groom after the ceremony. Modern day wedding dynamics are a mix of old and new, and social media certainly plays a large role in that. We share our wedding moments with far more than the guests in attendance, and the First Looks provides more of that luscious detail we love to share with our digital counterparts. But for some, the extra time does not make up for the tradition, and squeezing the photos in a single (or extended) cocktail hour is preference.

Another con is timing for getting ready. If the First Look happens an hour or two prior to the ceremony, that means the couple needs to be ready in advance of that, so they need to start their getting ready for the day earlier, which can make for a long day.

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First Touch

First what? A First Touch is a bit of fun that isn’t a First Look, but does create the opportunity for some fun photos prior to the ceremony. A First Touch includes the couple being on opposite sides of a wall or door, and reaching through to take each others hand, to “touch” but not see each other prior to the ceremony. It creates an intimate moment between just the two of them, heightening their excitement for the day, but preserving their First Look of each other until the ceremony.

First Family

For couple’s that prefer to save their First Look for the ceremony, many choose instead decide to do a Family First Look with their parents or siblings, where a bride might walk around the corner to meet her father while in her dress, that moment where dad realizes he’s giving away his little girl. Or when a Groom meets his parents, a moment signifying he is taking the next big step in his life. These moments are all Wedding Photo and Video gold, and will make for everlasting memories.

Time Savers (In Lieu of the First Look)

Some couple’s like to keep the entire wedding party separate until the ceremony, which creates a sense of mystery, longing and tradition throughout the day. In this case, a great way to save time is to have your photo and/or video team to come in early to get getting ready photos with the couple, their wedding parties and family members. They can also do formal photos with each side of the wedding party (one side does photos while the other hides away). This allows for a lot of the photo and video to take place prior to the ceremony, and maintains the First Look and formal couples portraits for after the ceremony.

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Which is Right For Me?

Each couple should explore their decision to do a First Look or not well in advance of their wedding day. This allows their Planner or Coordinator, Photo and Video teams, and even the Wedding Venue know the appropriate steps in planning out the details of their work for the day, ensuring a smooth, easy and exciting wedding day for all! Not sure what is best for you? Chat with your Planner and Photographer about your concerns, and make a decision that feels best for the two of you, your wedding team will work with you to fill out the special moments of your wedding day and help you achieve all of your goals.

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