The First Look | Wedding Wednesday

for brides

Bride and groom first look in downtown Springfield, Illinois

One of the biggest, most controversial decisions you will make about your wedding day is the big question . . . Will you see each other before the ceremony?

While you may have well-meaning family members encouraging you to keep things “traditional”, I want to encourage you to consider why I think first looks are the way to go.

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Why you should have a first look

  1. A more relaxing timeline. Depending on your ceremony time, reception time and the time of sunset on your wedding day, having a first look can allow for all of the bridal party pictures and several bride and groom portraits to be done prior to the ceremony time. This means that your guests won’t have to wait a long time for you to arrive at the reception, but it also means that you won’t be rushing to get pictures in before sunset. It also means that you can join in on the tail end of cocktail hour. The only photos that will be left after the ceremony is family photos and the dreamy bride and groom “golden hour” portraits.
  2. You spend more of your day together. Some couples really want to spend the majority of their day together, and a first look can allow for that. Instead of just meeting up with one another at the ceremony time, you’ll have a few more hours to spend together on your special day.
  3. The bridal party will be free to relax and have fun after the ceremony. Bridal parties love getting photos done before the ceremony and your photographer will appreciate that they haven’t started partying quite yet, hopefully. 🙂
  4. You have a private moment all to yourselves. The first look allows just the two of you to have a moment or two without the pressure of everyone watching. One of my favorite moments of our wedding day was being in the church with my soon-to-be husband before our ceremony without a soul in sight, except for the photographer of course.
  5. You’ll still be emotional walking down the aisle. 🙂 Trust me. There’s something about walking down the aisle or watching your bride coming down the aisle toward you that will still make you emotional. Having a first look may just take out the stress of having everyone watch you when you see each other for the first time.
  6. More bride and groom portraits. This is by far my favorite thing about doing a first look. You’ll be able to have a good number of portraits done at one location before the ceremony and then another set of portraits done at another location after the ceremony. You might even get a third time during “golden hour” right before sunset when I steal you away from the reception for 5-10 minutes. This also ensures that you will get a lot of portraits even if something gets thrown off during the day. Oftentimes, family portraits take longer than expected because that one person didn’t realize they were supposed to stay put after the ceremony or people have to be tracked down. Or, if the weather doesn’t cooperate during one part of the day, you have other opportunities later in the day to get those important bride and groom portraits. Those are the most important photos of the day and a first look helps alleviate the stress of fitting them in elsewhere.

Bride and Groom first look at Audubon Park in New Orleans by Destination Wedding Photographer Karen Shoufler


If you still aren’t sure whether a first look is right for you, talk with your fiance’ and your photographer. Your photographer will help you talk through the options and help you with whatever decision you make.

For more tips for brides, check out the “For Brides” section below!

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