One of the most frequent questions we get asked is if a first look is needed. Short answer: no. However, there are several reasons why you may want to do a first look.

What is a first look?

A first look is when a wedding couple decides to look at each other before the ceremony.  This can be done in any location that is either special to the couple, or simply convenient.

How is a first look done?

There are no traditions attached to a first look, so this is done in any way the couple wants. Normally a beautiful location is chosen by the couple and the photographer helps decide where should either of them stand, which way to face, and where the other one should walk from. Sometimes it is the bride that walks towards the groom, sometimes the groom walks towards the bride, and sometimes both walk toward each other. The same way is done for same-sex couples.

Why do couples decide to have a first look?


The beauty of first looks is that it can be done anywhere and incorporate anything. While for choosing a ceremony venue, couples need to account for how many guests it can fit, and the accessibility of it, for the first look location, couples just need to be sure that they (and the photographer) can reach it. For example, a first look can be done on top of a mountain (and we are lucky to be near the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Berkshires), on a bridge, a park, in a beautiful spot in their backyard, or in the bar where they first met. Location options for a first look are endless. Click here to see how Nikki & Scott incorporated their horses in their first look.


Some couples decide on having a first look because they want the first time they look at each other to be a special moment just between themselves (plus the photographer, but we can be hiding and out of your way). Instead of having to murmur things to each other in front of the officiant, couples have the opportunity to talk, kiss, hug, dance, and do anything they want.

Relaxed timeline:

Once the first look is done, couples can continue their day together, which means the bridal party pictures and any family formals they want can be done before the ceremony. This works great for couples with large family groups, or couples that want to enjoy cocktail hour with their guests. To be honest, formals and bridal party pictures done during the cocktail hour tend to feel rushed and most people just want to be done with them to go party.

More time together:

Instead of having to wait for after their ceremony to start celebrating, once the first look is done couples have the opportunity to wait together until the ceremony time. This means being able to sit and share a drink together right before saying their “I do’s”.


Cons to having a first look

There aren’t really any cons to having a first look, except maybe having to plan a little more of logistics. Where is the first look going to be? If the first look is offsite, how is everyone going to get there?

If there aren’t any real cons, why do couples decide not to have a first look?

Some couples really value traditions and don’t want to look at each other until their ceremony. Others simply picture themselves walking down the aisle with all their friends and family witnessing it.

Other ways to having a relaxed timeline

If couples don’t want a first look, but still want to enjoy their cocktail hour, or have a large family, an alternative is having a longer cocktail hour (like 1.5 or 2 hrs long). Another way is leaving time in between the ceremony and the cocktail hour, for example, if the ceremony ends at 3 pm, the cocktail hour could start at 4 pm. This time in between allows for guests to not have to rush from the ceremony to the reception, maybe stop to have a snack or buy a bandaid for their toes.  Should you do a first look?

As a photographer, I do enjoy the timeline flexibility we get when couples decide to do a first look. However, couples should have a discussion about how they visualize their day before deciding to do a first look by mere convenience.