I’m a big fan of first looks. I wasn’t always. When I first started envisioning my wedding, I wanted walk down the aisle to be the first time Patrick saw me.  Initially, I thought having a first look would cheapen the experience of seeing one another, but I found that it actually enhanced our time together on our wedding day. Our first look was intimate, fun, and allowed us to take the time we needed to spend with one another in the midst of the chaos.


A first look is an orchestrated, often photographed, experience where the couple sees one another in their smoking wedding ensemble prior to the ceremony. Couples often have a first look to spend more time together on the wedding day, and cut down time for portraits post-ceremony.

From a photographer’s standpoint, a first look is always a great option as the couple looks the “freshest” earlier in the day. It also cuts down on the amount of time couples, bridal party, and guests spend away from the fun stuff post-ceremony. Here are some other reasons why a first look is an all around awesome experience:

It doesn’t cheapen the walk down the aisle. If anything, having a first look made the walk down the aisle more special because I wasn’t focused Patrick seeing me for the first time, whether he was getting emotional, or who was at the ceremony. I was able to relax, enjoy the walk, and absorb every second from that day. I felt gorgeous on our wedding day and wanted to share this with Patrick first. There’s something about being alone with your future spouse and having a “ta-da” moment as opposed to them seeing you the same moment as your guests.


You can talk. At the ceremony, you have an audience. You don’t get to talk about how handsome he looks or how she got emotional when she saw you. A first look allows you to candidly express how you feel seeing one another. My favorite part was getting to see Patrick’s reaction, and catch up on our day up to that point. It was special because we were able to have a few quiet moments together amidst the fast pace of the day.


Couples get their moment together uninterrupted. It was just us and our photographers. They set up the shot, but did not interrupt, giving us time to savor one another. As a bride, I will attest to the limited time you have with your groom after you say “I do”, transitioning from family portraits to the reception. Think of the reception as a party, a party that you’re hosting. You will be spending time with friends, and even if you do mingle as a couple, you are still hosting. My husband and I will both testify that the best moments throughout the day were the moments we could savor together, uninterrupted.


There was less pressure to leave guests during the reception. Some brides and grooms use lull time during the reception to get portraits done and I’m all for it. An evening wedding equals prime light for  gorgeous portraits. Because we did a first look, we were able to have 3 separate portrait sessions in small increments of time. Our first look meant that regardless of whether we could sneak away with our photographer during the reception, we had portraits from earlier in the day, and considered any other photos a bonus.

It cuts down on the time post-ceremony photographs take. We’ve attended those weddings. The one where the wedding party arrives at the reception long after the hor d’oeuvres are gone and everyone is hangry. Having our couple’s portraits and bridal party portraits knocked out after our first look meant three things: 1) family portraits were the only ones left during cocktail hour, 2) our bridal party could enjoy themselves during cocktail hour, and 3) we got to have bridal party portraits at gorgeous off-site locations without the lag time post-ceremony.


Your future husband/wife is the reason that all of this is happening. To be able to have a few moments with them means time to relax, laugh, reflect, and spend time with your favorite person.

All photos taken by the incredible, Kelsey Nelson Photography.