First Looks: 6 Reasons to Love Them

Being able to get married in this day and age is FANTASTIC isn’t it? We can stay true to ourselves and design our weddings however we’d like! While some traditions are timeless and worth holding on to, others are based on antique superstitions that really don’t translate to our modern-day lifestyles. Such as; not being allowed to see the bride before the wedding ceremony lest the groom-to-be splits and ruins the arranged marriage based on looks. Not exactly applicable to our lives, wouldn’t you say?

If you’re considering doing a “First Look” on your wedding day (ie; seeing each other before the Ceremony), you’re definitely not alone. This recent movement has been popping up in most of the weddings I photograph and for really good reasons. As a wedding photographer, I get asked my opinion on this all the time so I wanted to compile my answers into a post for anyone who is curious about what the perks are.

1. Quality Alone Time

He turns to see you as you walk up to him in all your wedding day glory. Your eyes lock and you rush up to meet him excitedly. When you opt for a First Look, you can actually soak in this emotional moment for longer. Your photographer hangs back and you have the freedom to remark on how great each other looks, hug, kiss, and generally just revel in each other’s gorgeousness. Once you’re ready to proceed with portraits, you simply let your photographer know and you’re on your way.

Boston Ma Wedding Photography by Shannon Grant
2. That Aisle Moment 

As someone who opted to see her groom before the ceremony, I can tell you from experience that it does not take away from that walking down the aisle moment. Nothing could. It’s the most real AND surreal moment of your life and it’s absolutely wonderful. If anything, having a First Look means you get to live this twice.

3. Shake Out Those Nerves 

Emotions run high on a wedding day and sometimes that can leave you feeling a bit stressed. Being able to see your love before the ceremony can help calm your nerves and remind you what all this wedding stuff is about! Plus, hugs raise serotonin levels which are guaranteed to make you feel happier and more relaxed! It’s science.

Wedding photography by Boston photographer, Shannon Grant.

4. Head Start on Portraits 

When things run late on a wedding day, the first thing to get cut is your portrait time. Suddenly you’re rushed and your photos end up looking forced because you’re worried about time. Doing all the formal photos after the First Look is highly recommended to avoid this. I’ve photographed a wedding where the grandparents got stuck in Cape traffic and caused the ceremony to start an hour late. If we hadn’t done the formal photos ahead of time, it would have been a nightmare. The objective is to alleviate any potential stressors that can crop up which helps ensure your day is enjoyable, you’re not being rushed and your smiles are authentic and natural.

5. Cocktail Hour 

When you get the majority of your portraits done prior to the ceremony, you can make it to your cocktail hour! This is great because you can greet everyone and actually be a part of the party from the jump. Plus, cocktails! And since you have a chance to greet and thank guests early, during the reception you can sit down and enjoy your dinner while it’s still hot. You’re going to need that fuel for your dance party.

Romantic summer wedding photography at willowdale estate by fashion photographer Shannon Grant for Rose Quartz Photography.

6. That Good Light 

The best light for photography is during the “golden hour” which happens the 1-2 hours before sunset. In the Fall/Winter time, it sets earlier and getting formals done while the sun is still out is ideal. The light is more flattering, we have more options for locations and can be lighter on our feet. Any photographer worth their salt can work their way around a flash but the light can feel invasive and disrupt the flow of a portrait shoot that is necessary to foster natural expressions and harmony between photographer and subject.

For the reasons stated above, it definitely WAS for me and my husband! We wanted a laid back wedding with plenty of time for us to spend with our guests (we had a 2-hour cocktail hour but that’s a tale for a different time!) so it was perfect. With all that being said, having a First Look isn’t for everyone and no photographer should pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with.

What are your thoughts? If you opted for or against a First Look for your wedding, please leave your experience down in the comments!



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  • SaraLily said:

    I LOVE first looks. As a photographer, I love capturing the emotion and having that time for portraits. As a girl, hoping to be married someday soon, I will probably opt for a first look. I get anxious and overwhelmed easily. I know seeing my groom for a moment of peace and calm and love will help me tremendously on such a crazy high-stress day!!

    • It's such a wonderful opportunity and will be sure to calm your future bride-nerves! Thanks for your comment <3

  • Shalyce said:

    These perks for a first look are spot on!

    • Thanks Shalyce! Going through the process as a bride really gave me more of a perspective. Our First Look was one of my favorite moments of the day. :)

  • I completely agree! Why miss your wedding party to take pictures?