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First Looks on Wedding Days | Tips for Wedding Planning

One question we’re asked often during wedding planning is whether or not our couples should have a first look. As photographers, we’re always going to encourage you to do a first look, and we have our reasons! But at the end of the day, it’s 100% up to our couples to choose what they want. Since it’s such a hot topic, we thought we’d break down more about first looks on a wedding day.

Planning a First Look

A first look is simply a chance for the couple getting married to see each other before they walk down the aisle. In recent years, first looks – or reveals – have even become popular for more than just the couple getting married. Now, it’s common to see first looks between a bride and family (with dad or mom). Or to incorporate a fun, feminine bridal suite reveal with a bride and her bridesmaids. First looks are fun because it’s a chance to celebrate in a more private way.

bride walks down steps to see dad for first look
bride and dad hug during first look while mom watches
first look with bridesmaids and bride at Blithewold Mansion wedding
bride and bridesmaid hug during bridesmaid reveal at RI wedding

First Look Locations

When you’re planning a first look into your timeline, they’re going to occur before the ceremony. These intimate moments can take place at your venue – or at another location. One benefit of a first look is that you CAN visit other locations since you have more time and you’re not squeezing portraits in the hour right after your ceremony. As you know, we LOVE when our couples have lots of variety in their final galleries! So, being able to travel to other nearby locations for another look on your wedding day is always a perk to us, and especially for you!

bride approaches groom for romantic first look on wedding day
bride and groom ready for first look on Rhode Island wedding day
first look by Castle Hill Lighthouse on Rhode Island wedding day
Narragansett Bay wedding portraits by lighthouse

First Looks & Sunlight

Another thing to consider is if you’re getting married in the winter months, when the sunlight time is shorter, first looks can allow you to have portraits outside. If you wait until after your ceremony to do newlywed portraits, you’ll have to do them indoors (more than likely!). A first look guarantees those gorgeous outdoor portraits you’re dreaming of!

The Domino Effect of a First Look

Probably the best part of having a first look is that it makes your entire day run much more smoothly. And, it has what we call “the domino effect” on your wedding day. When we’re able to take, not only more portraits of our couples before the ceremony, but also the full wedding party and family portraits, there’s less you have to squeeze in after your ceremony during cocktail hour. That means as a couple, you can attend cocktail hour. There, you can greet your guests and say hello… which means during dinner, you can actually EAT the meal you so carefully chose! And, then, you can get on the dance floor and party the night away without having to be pulled away.

Not to mention, BAM, you just got an extra few hours with your spouse on your wedding day! We’ve even had couples have time for a quiet car ride alone between locations instead of rushing around to take the photos they wanted. Doesn’t that sound perfect?

Blithewold Mansion wedding portraits in the garden
bride holds groom's hands in garden

The Emotions on a Wedding Day

One of the biggest reasons to not have a first look that we hear is that couples are worried the moment at the aisle won’t be as special. But here’s the thing: that moment will ALWAYS happen. When you’re in the moment on your wedding day, the music’s playing, your partner is being given away and walking towards you… the emotions will still be running high. Nothing will ever take away that “wow” moment.

And sometimes, it’s nice for couples to have a private space before the ceremony to just have a separate, more personal “wow” moment. It’s hard to see the person you love dressed to the nine’s and walking towards you and all you can do is hold their hand ’til the end of the ceremony! Wouldn’t you like to be able to hug and kiss them and tell them how beautiful they look? That’s part of what a first look is for!

bride walks up to groom during first look in Rhode Island
emotional first look during winter wedding in Rhode Island photographed by Sara Zarrella Photography
bride and groom hug during portraits in Rhode Island

Still want to keep it traditional?

No problem! Your wedding day is all about what YOU want. If you prefer to keep things more traditional and not plan for a first look, we got you! We’ll work with you to keep the day flowing as easily as we can. You’ll get ready, get married, and do your photos. We’re here for you no matter what you want to plan!

parents walk bride down the aisle at Castle Hill Inn microwedding
groom waits for bride during Fort Adams wedding ceremony