Your wedding day will be a beautiful collection of moments—each one a unique piece that represents the commitment you are making to one another. And for many couples, the first look is one of these moments.
Photos by John Bello from Tom and Lindsay’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia wedding.
For those that need a quick definition, a first look is when a couple sees each other all dressed up before the ceremony. The first look is often built up as a reveal where both people can react to seeing their partner and bask in their beauty in an intimate setting. As a second bonus, this gives couples the chance to take their pictures before everyone else arrives, freeing them up to spend time with friends and family during cocktail hour.
I have been planning weddings for over sixteen years and the first look has become one of my favourite components as you may have seen on one of my recent Reels on Instagram:
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Here are my top five reasons why to do a first look:
1. You get more time with your guests
In the months leading up to your wedding, you’re going to spend so much time carefully choosing who you want to be witness to your special day—and you should get a chance to talk to these people! By getting your photos out of the way earlier in the day, you’ll have more of a chance to spend one-on-one time with your guests.
2. It’s a great way to shake off wedding day jitters
Your wedding is a big, important day—the start of a new chapter in your life—and you’re bound to be nervous when you get to it. The first look is the perfect way to manage that nervous energy. Adding another moment before the ceremony helps take off some of the pressure and gives you a chance to giggle and take a deep breath together before you commit to each other in front of your guests.
3. Your photographer will love you for it
Photographers love a first look. On the one hand, a first look offers a stunning, intimate moment for them to add to the wedding album. And on the other, having the wedding photos happen earlier in the day puts less pressure on them and gives them more time to capture all the pictures you want.
4. It doesn’t take away from the ceremony
Having a first look doesn’t mean that you’ll lose out on a special moment during the ceremony. For one thing, your guests will still be awed and captivated as soon as you and your partner enter the ceremony space. Couples also still have a chance to surprise each other. I’ve had brides add their veil as a noteworthy touch for the ceremony, and grooms wear a different jacket for when they say “I do.”
5. It makes the day longer
Adding a first look to the front end of your wedding just gives you another intimate moment to spend with your partner on your big day—and you can make it as unique as you want it to be. One of my couples had their first look offsite from the venue. They each arrived at a spot in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, where the photographer had set up a picnic blanket for them before retreating into trees. The groom arrived first and he stood in awe as his bride walked towards him. As they sat together, they had a chance to reflect on the new journey they were about to embark on together and, in the distance, the photographer captured this precious scene.
There are so many good reasons to do a first look—but it should always come down to your personal preferences and whether it makes sense to you. If you’re wanting to keep your day short and sweet, are superstitious about seeing each other before the ceremony, or really want to keep that first look for when you’re surrounded by friends and family, that’s totally fine. Either way you do it, your wedding day will be one you remember forever.
I am always so excited to help couples craft this special piece of their wedding day. Are you thinking about adding a first look to your wedding? Get in touch and let us help!