Should You Do a First Look? Tips From a Wedding Photographer

March 22, 2022

Groom waiting to see his bride for the first time at The Lenox Boston

As you are planning your wedding day timeline, you will want to consider whether or not to do a first look. Not only can first looks can help make for a smooth wedding timeline, but they also allow for stunning photos that capture the real emotion you both experience on your wedding day!

Bride and groom hugging during first look at Boston wedding

What is a first look?

The wedding first look is the first time that a couple sees each other on their wedding day. Oftentimes, couples opt to have a first look together before walking down the aisle, as it’s a time for an intimate moment between the two of you with no distractions from the wedding day. Having a first look is somewhat non-traditional, as we often think of the big reveal happening as you’re walking down the aisle, but it is a wonderful opportunity for you two to share a moment together before joining your family and friends for the ceremony. Many couples choose to have this moment captured by their wedding photographer.   

Within your wedding day timeline, typically first looks happen about two hours before your guests arrive. I also usually suggest following the first look with your portraits. We can then also capture the wedding party and family photos.

Bride and groom first look at vineyard wedding in New England

Pros of doing a first look

Whether you’re considering including a first look in your wedding day timeline or saving the reveal for when you’re walking down the aisle, you really can’t go wrong either way. But I will say, I am a fan of first looks! Both from a photography and personal point of view. 

Personally, I see having a private first look as a bonus because you get a touching and emotional private moment together, which reinforces the connection and bond you two are creating. Plus, you will still have that electric look walking down the aisle just a little while later. This alone time at your designated first look is really valuable on your wedding day! 

As a photographer, it allows for a series of intimate shots before your ceremony, which I promise you, you will treasure forever. Of course, you can choose to keep this moment between just the two of you, but I’d recommend considering allowing me to be unobtrusively capturing this time for you both to have these significant moments memorialized.

As mentioned above, typically I recommend having your first look about two hours before your guests arrive for your ceremony, and then following that capturing your portraits and wedding party + family photos. This allows you (and your party) to enjoy cocktail hour with your guests, and pace photos throughout your day. If you don’t do a first look, we will be taking those photos during cocktail hour. But no fear – as long as everyone’s together the photos will be efficient and smooth and there will still be plenty of time to mingle and party! 

You can choose to do a first look during a traditional large wedding, and also if you are having a micro wedding or elopement.

Other options: parents, father-daughter, bridal party

If you are thinking that you would still prefer to keep that reveal moment traditional and reserve it for when you are walking down the aisle, there are some other ways to include first looks in your wedding photos. You can consider doing a first look with your family (many brides opt for a father-daughter first look!) or with your bridal party. Capturing your friends’ and familys’ reactions to your gorgeous bridal look is also super fun! 

Father daughter first look photos at New England Boston area weddings
Bridal party first looks at New England Boston area weddings

The important takeaway here is that either way you choose, you do have a first look – one is private and intimate and one is down the aisle and electric. There is no wrong choice! Both are packed with emotion and a moment you will not forget. As a Boston-based wedding photographer, it is important to me that we plan a wedding day timeline that you are truly happy with. It’s my job to take everything that makes you and your day unique and showcase all these moments naturally and authentically.

bride and groom embrace and dance during their first look photos in Nahant
Groom waiting to see his bride for the first time at The Lenox Boston
Bride and groom at their Crane Beach elopement
Bride and groom before their New England wedding
Brides walking together to their New England wedding ceremony
Bride and groom embrace by the coast at their Nahant wedding in Boston
Bride and groom on the beach at their Sea View wedding in Cape Cod
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ABOUT kelly

At home near the sea. Ever-focused on finding beauty in intimate or grand moments; found in the love stories that leave me breathless and in awe. 

Kelly  deeply values connection by being intentional in knowing her couples and their love stories. Through her organic and natural photography style, she creates timeless images that allow you to relive your moments and remember how you felt. Kelly began her professional career in 2015 and has since been delivering skillfully crafted images and an elevated experience for every couple she works with. She will help you feel natural and relaxed in front of the camera by knowing when to give guidance and when to let the moments naturally evolve, focusing on your unique and unforgettable celebration from start to finish. Based in Boston, she would love to document your authentic love throughout New England and beyond.