Wedding Day First Looks

The Who, What, When, Where, and (most importantly) WHY couples are choosing this option

Hi there, friends! Emily here— I hope you all are enjoying spring break this week! Our kiddos are home from school, so there’s a lot more action than normal taking place at our home. On top of THAT craziness, we’ve officially passed my due date, which means we are on baby watch at any point! Fun stuff. 😁

While we are on the topic of wedding day timelines, I wanted to provide an informative post going over the trendy phenomenon of a first look on your wedding day! We’re going to talk about the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, and why) couples are choosing this option, and we’ll also talk about why this option may not be for you (*spoiler alert, Tabor and I didn’t have one at our wedding*)

Chances are you’ve heard of a first look on your wedding day BUT just in case you haven’t, let’s define the process. A first look is where a couple chooses to see each other on their wedding day BEFORE their wedding ceremony.

Now, let’s jump into the nitty gritty.

For those curious, all images below were captured at The Springs (x2), Outdoor I Do’s, and The Bella Donna Wedding and Event Center! 🙂

WHO: Who is the best match for a first look?

Let’s not tiptoe around this one: a first look is non-traditional! If you’re not afraid of breaking the tradition of waiting to see your spouse until you get to the alter, this may be for you! It’s also a great option for someone who may be incredibly anxious to walk down the isle, (seeing your spouse-to-be before your ceremony can provide a sense of tranquility… or at least take the edge off of the anxiety). A first look may also be a good option if you or your spouse desire an intimate, exclusive moment together before your wedding ceremony, or if you are wanting to maximize the number of family, bridal party, and photos of the two of you before your ceremony.

WHAT: What does the first look entail?

Well, for every couple it’s different! For most duos, a first  look will include time to see each other, take in each other’s glamour, and then time for some photos afterward. There are so many ways to make your first look your own— you can exchange gifts, handwritten vows (great option if you like the idea of handwritten vows, but don’t want to do this in the ceremony), love letters— you name it! This is completely your moment to customize.

WHEN: When is the best time to plan on our first look?

Loaded question! So this entirely depends on what you have going on during the day. Some couples decide to take ALL staged photos before the ceremony so they can relax and enjoy uninterrupted at their reception. If that’s the case, you will need to allot enough time for photos of you and your spouse before the ceremony, AS WELL AS any family photos, and wedding party photos. Another option is to have only the first look before the ceremony, keeping all family photos and wedding party photos for post-ceremony.

The best, most efficient way to nail down the “when” portion to the first look is to sit down with your photographer and coordinator and write out a timeline. They can tell you exactly how much time you need to plan for each stage and activity. One of the questions that will need to be established early on in this discussion is the best time to actually have your ceremony, to help with this question, be sure to check out our blog, “Selecting Your Best Ceremony Time“.

WHERE: Where should I have my first look?

We have options, people! Your first look can take place at your wedding/reception venue, a hotel where you’re getting ready, or even a third party location like a park. Again, let’s make this custom to you. If you love the vibe of a first look at the alter, do it. Love the idea of a first look on a remote, tree-covered road— let’s find one!

WHY: Why should I have a first look?

Okay, so I feel like I should have addressed this one first. First looks are great for several reasons:

It can calm your nerves before you walk down the isle

It allows for an intimate, emotional time for just you two on your wedding day

It frees up the evening so you can have more time at the reception

It allows your guests to not wait between the ceremony and dinner

Because you just want to 😉 (My personal favorite reason)


Okay, I mentioned this as a spoiler alert, but Tabor and I did not have a first look for our wedding. We wanted to keep it traditional and see each other for the first time at the alter. You and/or your spouse may want that too, and THAT’S PERFECTLY GREAT! I’ve heard nightmare stories about how some photographers refuse to take on a wedding that doesn’t accommodate a first look. If you’ve had that experience, let me just tell you now…run away from that vendor! Don’t compromise your wedding dream. For anything.


Here’s what I tell anyone I’m meeting with in person: When it comes to any major decision on your wedding day, take some time with your spouse and dream it out together. Snuggle on the couch with your fur babies and envision your day— can you see yourself having a first look? Can you see yourselves, emotions in full swing, swirling around with each other alone before the ceremony? Or do you see yourself catching that glimpse of each other down the isle, tears forming as you walk closer to each other?

Whatever you envision, go with it. Inform your wedding vendor team of your dreams, and make it happen.

Are you looking for amazing wedding photographers to capture the first time you lay eyes on your spouse? If so, email us at or give us a call/text at 918-902-5663 to talk about your options.

We can’t wait to dream with you!


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