Should you do a ” First look”?

As a Wedding Photographer from the Nashville, Tn area, I have had many years of experience, with different couples some choosing to do a first look, while others not. What you choose to do on your day is 100% up to you both as a couple, do not let anyone pressure you either way.

What is a first look?

It is a private moment usually away from family and friends, when the bride and groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony. It is a newer (the last few years) tradition and can be genuinely nice, but it is not for everyone. Many couples choose to do a first look for a variety of reasons, while many choose to go the traditional route. If you are on the fence about it, here are a few pros and cons that I have experienced that may help you decide.

Let’s start with why a first look may be a good idea.

1- Seeing each other before the ceremony can help reduce the stress and anxiety of your day, and many couples say that it did not in any way take away from the emotions felt at the ceremony for them.

2- If tears shed (which they usually do) you will have time to freshen up a bit before your guests arrive.

3- You and your photographer can choose an ideal spot for your first look, that can be under the weeping willows, or the grand staircase at your venue. This is ensuring great lighting and scenery that we can control.

4- You will not miss cocktail hour, or at least be able to attend most of it. A lot of your guests have traveled from near and far, spending more time with them is important.

5- You will have more time for portraits. Usually the ceremony ends, and we have only about 45 minutes to get family portraits, bridal party portraits and your couple portraits. Plus we could go to different locations if desired.

6- Privacy, no cell phones snapping away or bridal party members hooting and hollering. Just the two of you and your photographer(s).

7- Remember if you are having a late fall or winter wedding, it gets dark early. If a winter wonderland wedding has always been your dream, but your ceremony is at 5:00, it will be dark out, and you may end up disappointed.


Now, lets look at why having a first look may not be a good idea

1- You will have to get up and get ready sooner. The first look usually happens 3-4 hours before the ceremony, so that means everyone up and getting ready much earlier.  You also will have to be in your wedding dress longer and may be uncomfortable.

2- Your dress may get a tiny bit dirty,  As much as we try to keep it clean, you do not want to have your maid of honor holding your dress during your first look. That also goes for walking around a park, gardens, or anywhere we go outside, its next to impossible to keep your dress 100% clean.

3- If you do portraits before your ceremony, you won’t actually be married, you will have no wedding rings on, and this may bother some people. If this bothers you, reconsider the first look.

4- Your family and friends will not be present when you see each other for the first time. This moment is very emotional, and the parents feel like they are missing out.

5- You may have to have your make up and hair touched up before the ceremony, and unless your hired your hairdresser and make up artist to stay later, you will be counting on one of your brides maids to touch you up.

6- If the tradition of waiting to see each other at the ceremony is important to either one of you, you know, the moment that you have waited your whole life for? The moment you always see in the romantic movies? Then skip the first look, a good photographer will help you with the timeline to ensure you get great portraits.

My husband and I did not do a first look when we got married five years ago. It was not important for us to make cocktail hour, and we did not have a large bridal party. It was especially important for both of us to see each other for the first time when I was walking down the aisle, with our family and friends present. What we chose does not mean it is the best choice for you, but it was the best choice for us, and we would not change a thing!

If you have any questions about whether to do a first look, feel free to reach out to me, I can help you with your timeline and give you advice based on my many years of Wedding Photography experience to help you decide what’s best.


First look Charlene Mann Photography