• Elizabeth Nelson

The Benefits of Having a First Look at Your Wedding

Whether or not you are going for a super traditional wedding, or stepping out of the box a bit, a first look can be a back and forth kind of decision. Some advice, as a photographer, on how a first look can help calm nerves and slow down the rush of picture taking after the ceremony.

Imagine your wedding day. You and your fiancé have spent months and months planning your perfect day. Big decisions have been made, small ones have been compromised on and some have yet to find common ground. Like maybe the first look.


In the past couple of years, a first look between the wedding couple before the ceremony has grown in popularity. As a wedding photographer, I believe this is for two reasons.

  1. It can be a great way to calm your nerves before walking down the aisle.

  2. It can drastically reduce the after ceremony picture taking stress.

However, when most people think about a wedding, they think about that moment as the bride is walking down the aisle and the groom sees her for the first time. She is stunning in her wedding gown, everyone is looking at her, and the groom is beaming with joy maybe even tearing up a bit, or a lot! It is a moment that everyone wants to remember and are usually talking about time and time again after the wedding is over.


So where did the first look idea originate? As I was writing up this post, I really started to wonder about this, so I went digging into the inter webs and found an article. To sum up, the first look goes back to when arranged marriages were in common practice and more of a business deal between two families. The bride and groom were not allowed to see each other out of fear that the groom would find the bride unattractive and call of the wedding, therefore casting shame onto the bride and family. It became tradition that they bride and groom see each other as she was walking down the aisle. Also, the veil was another way to keep the bride "hidden" until the last possible moment in order to keep the wedding on track. Romantic huh?


These days, it has transformed into a more romantic tradition, one in which can create a more memorable moment for the couple getting married.


A first look can be a great way to calm your nerves


When I ask my couples if they are interested in doing a first look on their wedding day, the couples who are worried about being a nervous wreck tend to lean more in the direction of doing one. I would agree with this whole heartedly because having a first look can be the perfect way to calm down before walking down the aisle. You have both spent the majority of your day apart getting ready and the anticipation of getting married really grows as the ceremony time approaches and with that can come a lot of anxiety for some people. When you have a first look, it allows you the chance to come together and just be the two of you for the first time that day. If you are having it documented by a photographer or videographer, we typically like to "hide" away to give you the moment to yourselves while still capturing it.


Some people ask if it takes away from the emotion that you have walking down the aisle and my typical response is that it doesn't take away from those emotions because when you walk down the aisle, you are now in front of your family, friends and all those closest to you. Having all eyes on you as you walk to your future husband or wife to be, that can be wonderfully overwhelming. And having had that first look, you can look into your spouse to be eye's and really connect there in the moment of you walking towards them. It can be just as memorable both ways.


It can reduce the after ceremony picture taking stress


For some, it may be as simple as a timing issue. During the winter the sun will usually be setting sooner and if you want those dreamy couple photos, before your ceremony may be your best chance at capturing those. Or if you are wanting to spend your cocktail hour with your guests instead of being away taking photos until your entrance, having the chance to take all those bridal party and family photos before the ceremony can cut the timing of after ceremony photo taking so that you can jump in an mingle with all of your guests. Another stress it can help mitigate is simply the rush to get those family and bridal photos done right after the ceremony. Having them taken before because you aren't trying to stay hidden from your significant other, can take the stress off you and your photographer.


Another possibility is that there simply isn't a way to stay hidden away before the ceremony. Certain venues don't always have separate places for the bride and groom to stay in. I had a couple who were getting married on a boat cruise and they were stressing about how they would stay hidden from each other before their ceremony. They decided that it would be less stressful to have a first look at the hotel where they were getting ready so that they weren't trying to stay hidden while on the boat. They had an adorable moment on a bridge, hours before their ceremony and then got their bridal photos out of the way at the hotel and headed off, together, to the boat cruise. The bride actually ended up changing into a more casual white dress so that she could greet guests before they set off on the water for the ceremony. So it ended up being still a bit of a surprise for the guests as well as her groom.

Regardless of which way you end up going, the moment will remain special between you and your soon to be spouse. Speaking with your photographer can help if you are on the fence and we are always there for you in any decision.


Now as a bride to be, I am going to go try and convince my fiancé of the benefits of a first look! 😂

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Phoenix, Arizona  elizabeth@nelsoncinematic.com  480-268-5795

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