Let's jump right in and start with the basics:

DEFINITION: A first look is when you dedicate around 15-30 minutes to see your partner for the first time in your wedding attire before the ceremony. It's a private time to be with your person and to enjoy a few moments together before your "I Do's" while you also sneak some bridal portraits in.

And regardless of what anyone has told you, doing a first look is 100% your choice. If you love the idea and think it's something you'd really want, THEN DO IT and don't let anyone talk you out of it. On the other hand, if you've always dreamt of the traditional aisle walk where you see your husband for the first time while everyone witnesses, then do that! There is no right or wrong answer. This is your wedding day, and you should go about it as you feel fits you best. So if you're wondering, "Should I do a First Look?" I'd say first decide if you're really for it, really against it, or indifferent. Depending on your day, it might be a perfect thing to do. It might also not make a real logistical difference. Let's break that down.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve Wedding, image by Fatima Elreda Photo

1. Doing a First Look could allow your timeline to breathe

Emotions aside, a logistical reason to do a first look is that it allows a lot more to be done before the ceremony even begins. For example, after your first look you can go directly into the family and bridal party photos. With circumstances like this, you can focus solely on your bridal portraits during cocktail hour aka sunset time if it lines up. If your bridal portraits are very important to you and you want to dedicate a good amount of time to them, a first look might be the way to go.

WITH THIS SAID, if you have a small family list of formal photos we can still absolutely get them done after the ceremony, and still have plenty of time left for your bridal portraits. This is especially true in the summer days when sunset is a lot later.

2. Settle Your Nerves

All of my brides and grooms who've done a first-look say it does not take away from the walk down the aisle! So let's take that myth and throw it away. Whether you do a first look or walk down the aisle or both, there will be an overwhelming amount of emotions. How and where you want these emotions to come out is absolutely up to you. And just because they come out in the first-look doesn't mean they won't also come out on the aisle.

A first-look can be a time for you to calm your nerves with your partner before the day officially begins. It gives you more time together. If you're the nervous type, or a big introvert and feel like you might get too overwhelmed with a group of people looking at you as you see your partner for the first time, a first-look might just be the perfect option for you.

I photographed a 3-year anniversary recently and the couple wore their wedding clothes. We went to the beach to read their love-letters to each other. As we walked to the spot the bride told me the groom didn't cry on their wedding day when she walked down the aisle. He explained he was way too nervous with all the people. BUT in this more intimate setting that we created, he felt safe and comfortable enough to cry while reading his love letter and while she read hers to him.

3. Be Present during the Ceremony

For some people, a first look with their partner allows their nerves to calm down before the ceremony. It helps them truly enjoy and take-in what's being said in the ceremony. This is the very beginning of your day and here you are, all in! A lot of the times, my bride and groom tell me they were trying so hard to be present but everything just felt like a blur. The words came in and out, they weren't really fully there. Too mesmerized and emotionally filled with every ounce of the moment. This can be both a beautiful thing and something you might not entirely want! It truly falls back on what you feel works best for you and your personalities.


If you're having a winter wedding, I would personally suggest doing a first look. After your winter day ceremony there will be minimal amount of light left (assuming you do it near sunset time). This causes a very tight timeline to take the next set of photos! The sun may set before we get through all of your family photos, bridal party photos, and your bridal portraits!

On the other hand, if you are having a summer wedding day then a first look really comes down to if you feel it will bring value to you. If there are trees around, an indoor area, or shade, then we can do the first look in these areas. I will scout your venue ahead of time to find the perfect spot for you! On summer days there will also be a lot more time with the light after the ceremony. So regardless of the family size, we will probably be able to get through everything and still have time for your bridal portraits. I would just add a bit more time to cocktail hour so we're not rushed.

Okay moral of the story: it is your wedding day and you should do whatever your heart pulls you to do. There isn't a right or wrong answer. Should you do a first look? That is 100% up to you! But, I hope I gave you the right tools to help you decide if it's right for you.

On another note, if you'd like to reach out to talk about me photographing your wedding day, help you plan your timeline and day, whether you decide to do a first look or not, reach out by clicking the button below. I can't wait to talk to you!