3 Things you need to know about doing a First Look

First Looks: The Fastest Growing Wedding Day Tradition, Explained

So you recently got engaged. You’ve already called your loved ones, hosted a celebratory dinner, and shared the news on every social media platform imaginable!

A few weeks in, the two of you are still glowing and the realization is finally starting to wash over you. In no time at all, you’ll be marrying your best friend!

First of all, congrats! Getting married is the best! Secondly, I’m sure you and your partner have already hit the ground running with wedding planning.

You’ve interviewed vendors, built your registry, and researched ideal honeymoon spots. You’ve even got your dress picked out. In all of that planning, however, you probably haven’t had the time to consider your thoughts on a little pre-wedding rendezvous: The First Look.

This insanely popular practice is becoming one of the most beloved traditions of all time, and with good reason. If you haven’t made up your mind on this one yet, let me tell you exactly why you’ve got to have a First Look at your wedding.

First Looks: What are They Anyway?

The First Look, sometimes referred to as a “first glance,” is a favorite wedding tradition of mine. The set-up is simple enough, but the results really have a way of capturing this intimate, personal moment between the couple.

Typically, I will have the groom secluded in an open field or private room at the venue. I’ll bring the bride over to the area or room, fully prepped in her dress, hair, and make-up.

With her husband-to-be facing away, I have her slowly walk up behind him and place a gentle hand on his shoulder. This signals him to turn around, and leads to some of the best wedding photos you could ever hope for.

Some couples go the extra mile and prepare an intimate letter to read to their future spouse, or briefly reflect on the journey that has led them up to this point. Others prefer to just chat or share words of encouragement and reassurance, bonding in anticipation of the day ahead.

Recently, brides have also come up with a few fun variations on the First Look, typically involving close family members rather than the groom. Essentially, the private reveal can take place with any special person in the bride’s life.

The whole point of a First Look is taking the opportunity to share a special, private moment with someone you love on one of the most important days of your life. Wedding days can be extremely stressful and hectic, and First Looks provide you with a moment to stop, take a breath, and soak up the joy of what is coming.

Why Should I Consider a First Look: a Wedding Photographer’s perspective 

1.Talking with your partner can calm jitters.

Let’s face it, as joyful as most wedding days are, the hours leading up to the ceremony can be a time of major anxiety for the bride and groom. You spend most of the day working on hair and make-up, checking on last-minute details, and doing everything you can to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

The worst part? Throughout all of the day’s preparation, you probably haven’t even been able to share how you’re feeling with the one person who knows exactly what you’re going through.

When you’re stressed out and exhausted with all of the intense wedding prep, the First Look can be a time for you to rest, breathe, and most importantly, remember why you got all dressed up in the first place: to celebrate your decision to spend the rest of your life with your favorite person.

  2.  Build anticipation to the full reveal.

I’ve heard a lot of First Look challengers ask, “well what if my husband doesn’t react when I walk down the aisle because he’s already seen me?” On the contrary, doing a first look can actually build up the intensity of your emotions when you finally lock eyes at the wedding ceremony. 

Seeing each other briefly beforehand gives you a taste of what’s to come, making you even more excited to begin forever with your love. Your anticipation builds from the moment the First Look ends to the beautiful bride’s big entrance.

If you’re still nervous about your groom’s reaction, or lack thereof, let me leave you with this: When you walk out, your husband isn’t reacting to a pretty dress, a beautiful face of make-up, or even an expensive pair of shoes. He’s reacting to the entrance of the love of his life, and experiencing the revelation that he gets to share that “First Look” feeling with you over and over again, forever.

3. You still get to make your “big entrance” during the ceremony.

For many brides, it’s the big reveal that represents all of the hard work and commitment that it took to bring them together with their husband-to-be. It’s a hugely emotional moment of joy that they get to share with everyone in attendance.

In all of the weddings I’ve shot, having a First Look has never changed any of that. Your husband will still be beaming with joy at the sight of you, and you’ll still be met with all of the oohs and ahs from friends and family members alike.

It’s normal to feel hesitant about branching out from tradition, but trust me, as long as you and your best friend are happy, there is nothing in the world that can take away the beauty of that moment.



This allows for more portraits during your wedding day. Whether that be with your groom, for your wedding portraits, or providing extra time to be with your bridal party. This is a great opportunity to use that time for photos. This also puts less pressure on the Wedding Photographer to take family formals and then rush into photos with your wedding party during cocktail hour. Last but not least, this affords you the opportunity to be with your wedding guests after the ceremony. 


It seems like there are a million new wedding traditions popping up just about everywhere. There are only a few, however, that really make the bond between the bride and groom a priority.

It’s a rare moment of raw intimacy that’s not played up for laughs or tears, and from a photographer’s point of view, it’s the best way to get real, honest images from the two of you without the influence of an audience.

At the end of the day though, it’s a personal decision. So if you want to have that opportunity to de-stress and share a special moment with your partner, all while getting some gorgeous photos out of it, the First Look is the way to go.

If you’re asking me, your wedding photographer friend, these are some of my couple’s most favorite moments. It’s truly a magical moment and one of my favorite things to capture forever.

If you want some tips on how to nail your First Look, or have literally ANY questions about weddings, just shoot me a message at Matthewharrisphotography.com

"I was absolutely thrilled with our weddings photos! They came out so gorgeous words cannot express my gratitude for Emily!

Mel & John



"I will never hire another photographer. I have found my photographer soul mate and her name is Emily Marie. Thank the stars!"

Jessica Knox



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