For Brides: Deciding on a First Look

For Brides

Oct 2, 2018

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I’ve had a lot of conversations with brides recently about the decision to do (or not do) a first look on your wedding day, and decided to write up a little post on this common topic! I’ve honestly realized that it comes down to preferences – both emotionally and logistically. I would say it’s still about a 50/50 decision for my couples, as far as how many decide to/decide not to do a first look! Instead of listing the reasons to choose one or the other, I wanted to offer some insight from the photography side of the equation and let you make the best decision for you and your day!

I’ve included timeline differences below, with an example schedule for each option below. Keep in mind this is just one example – every timeline looks a little different depending on ceremony/sunset time, travel time for multiple venues, other special moments, etc!

Wedding Day with a First Look:
Timeline differences:

  • 2 chances for bride & groom portraits (after first look and at sunset)
  • slightly longer shooting time & more photos pre-ceremony, including: full bridal party, bride & groom together with immediate families
  • quicker entrance to reception after ceremony – once extended family photos and bride & groom sunset portraits are finished

Emotional Aspect: A first look allows you to see your groom earlier in the day, hug him & ease some nerves before the ceremony. It also takes the pressure off keeping the bride & groom separate during the shuffle of pre-ceremony photos. In my opinion, doing a first look does not take away from the groom seeing his bride walk down the aisle. That will always be a huge and emotional moment, no matter what!

Example Timeline:
1:30 Photographer arrives, details & getting ready photos
2:30 Bride gets into dress
2:50 First Look & Portraits
3:10 Full Bridal Party, Bride & Bridesmaids, Groom & Groomsmen
4:00 Bride & Groom with Immediate Families
4:20 Done with pre-ceremony photos
5:30 Ceremony
6:00 Extended Family Photos (timing depends on number of photos needed)
6:15 Bride & Groom sunset photos
6:45 Reception Introductions, First Dances, Dinner
(reception events & exit later on)

Wedding Day without a First Look:
Timeline differences:

  • shorter shooting time pre-ceremony, simple schedule
  • opportunity for bride & groom to have a “first touch” or back to back quiet moment before ceremony
  • slightly longer shooting time post-ceremony to account for family photos, full bridal party and the one opportunity for bride & groom portraits (most important part of the day!)



























Emotional Aspect: Some couples still want the first time to see each other to be when the bride is walking down the aisle, which is incredibly special and sweet – that moment always holds so much weight. They may choose to write each other letters on their wedding day and savor the sweet anticipation of the ceremony, or opt to have a “first touch” moment to pray together!

Example Timeline:
2:30 Photographer arrives, details & getting ready photos
3:30 Bride gets into dress
3:50 Bride & Bridesmaids, Bride & Immediate Family
4:30 Groom & Groomsmen, Groom & Immediate Family
5:00 First Touch (optional)
5:30 Ceremony
6:00 Extended Family Photos
6:15 Full Bridal Party, Bride & Groom portraits
7:15 Reception Introductions, First Dances, Dinner
(reception events & exit later on)

Whatever you choose is best for you both, just communicate with your photographer in order to maximize your timeline and make the best plan for your day. Most importantly, remember to soak in every single moment!