For Brides: 8 Reasons To Do a First Look

groom holds bride during first look in south carolina wedding


To first look or not to first look, that is the question.

Every couple has to make this difficult decision before their wedding day, and we agree it’s not an easy one! While some people are set on doing a first look from the start, others take longer to decide. Many brides feel that it takes out some of the traditional aspects of the wedding day. We get it; most brides dream of having their groom break down and cry at the sight of them walking down the aisle (and trust me, I did too!). But what many brides don’t consider is that you don’t lose that special moment because you did a first look. You are still walking down the aisle to him. He is about to become a husband. This realization will still occur to him no matter if you’ve seen each other before the ceremony or not.

We’ve seen every reaction. We’ve had grooms not cry during a first look, but cry when they see her walk down the aisle. Some grooms cry during BOTH the first look and during the ceremony.  Other groom’s are more shy and actually clam up when all eyes are on him. If you’re expecting a reaction and he gets nervous from the attention, you may not get a reaction at all. What your groom’s reaction will be is dependent on his personality and he is the only one who knows how he will react.

No matter what you decide, it’s important that you and your groom consider all of the pros and cons. Only you two know what’s best for you, so make your decision together and make sure you’re happy with it!

1.) Your First Time Seeing Each Other Is Private

groom holding bride on wedding day at callawassie island weddingOne of the most important reasons to consider doing a first look is because your first time seeing each other will be between just the two of you. Think about it. The anticipation has built all day, you’re walking down the aisle and suddenly, your groom gets really uncomfortable with the fact that all the eyes in the room are fluttering between you and him, as guests await a reaction from him. While some grooms aren’t afraid to shed a tear in public, others would much prefer not to show that kind of emotion and they fight to keep a steady face. For those grooms that would rather not be emotional in front of others, first looks are perfect because it allows them to fully react to your beauty without any onlookers. Some people choose to also exchange private vows to each other as well, which is always so sweet.

“Doing a first look gave us a private, intimate few moments to just be with each other and enjoy the exciting feeling that “this is really happening” after the months and months of planning.  I will never forget the blissful anticipation and excitement I had waiting for Sarah to tap me on the shoulder and then again when I saw her for the first time in her white dress, a feeling that wouldn’t have been quite the same in front of our family and friends.” – From 2018 groom, David

2.) You Get to Hug Each Other

groom reacts to bride during first look in chesapeake virginia

You’ve just walked down the aisle…you’ve totally wowed him and he looks so handsome. Now, you’re standing in front of each other with huge smiles on your faces and the desire to just hug each other, but you can’t. All eyes are on you and the officiant has started the ceremony and you’re waiting. 30+ minutes go by and you’re pronounced husband & wife. You walk back down the aisle with excitement and now you FINALLY get to hug each other and hold each other close… for exactly 1 minute before your wedding party runs up behind you to congratulate you.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just soak in that moment together, uninterrupted? When you choose to do a first look before your ceremony, you can have all the time you want to soak in those wedding day moments together. He can look at you, twirl you around, check you out and you get to smile, admire him in his tux and hug him tight knowing that you’ll be husband & wife so soon.


“I thought it was important for us to take a moment for ourselves to see each other before the hustle and bustle began. Doing a first look gave us the opportunity to see each other completely without distractions, to hug and kiss each other because we wanted to and not because someone was tapping their glass, a chance to center ourselves in why we chose to marry one another. I am so thankful for that time together.” From 2016 groom, Corey

“Once the ceremony starts, everything happens so fast. I was so excited to marry Corey and wanted to be fully present in every once in a lifetime moment. Doing a first look allowed us to slow down, have a few intimate moments just the two of us to let it all sink in, and be excited together for our life as husband and wife. Seeing the look of pure joy on my husband’s face as he turned around to see me for the first time on our wedding day is an experience I’ll never forget.”From 2016 bride, Kendra

3.) Takes the Ceremony Nerves Away

groom cries during emotional first look with bride in halifax virginia

The morning of your wedding day, there is always a buzz of anticipation. You’re getting ready in the bridal suite, your groom is getting ready in the groom’s quarters and your planner is making sure every detail is coming together without a hitch. Your family and bridal party is counting down the minutes until your ceremony begins so that everyone can finally take in and release a deep breath. *Ahhhh* Finally, we made it over the hump. But what if you got to release that breath a few hours before your ceremony? Choosing to do a first look gives your day a huge “deep breath.” It allows everyone to relax earlier on in the day. If you’re a bride who is prone to feeling stress, I would recommend doing a first look for this reason alone.

“I had two main reasons why I wanted to incorporate a first look into our wedding story. The first being to get out those pre-wedding jitters. The second was the opportunity to see his reaction and be in the moment with JUST my future husband. Initially, Hunter was not so convinced and thought the “aisle moment” would be ruined. But to this day, he loves that we did it. His reaction was priceless and we both still got the butterflies when my dad walked me down the aisle. It gave us some of our FAVORITE wedding photos out of the bunch.From 2017 bride, Brenna

4.) More Time Together

joyful bride on wedding day in north carolinaWho wouldn’t want more time together on your wedding day?? When you choose to do a first look, you’re allowing for several more hours of time to spend with your future spouse. Depending on your timeline, you can add up to 3 hours together before the ceremony! I don’t know about you, but this seems like an obvious “YES!” to me.

“We chose to do a first look because it would make the day even more exciting! Quality time is both of our love languages, so having that time together before the ceremony was super sweet for us!”From 2017 bride, Kristi

“It’s a time that we knew we would look back on and treasure those extra moments together. To me, that is priceless.” – From 2017 groom, Edward

5.) More Portrait Time

bride and groom react to each other on wedding day at womens club of portsmouthGenerally speaking, you’re probably spending a good part of your wedding budget on your photographer, right? After your venue and your food, your photographer is in the top 5 of your most expensive wedding vendors. (They are helping to capture the beginning of your legacy – they should be!) Considering you’re spending as much as you are, wouldn’t you want to leave your wedding with 40% more portraits? Or how about this difficult question: Is not doing a first look worth 40% less portraits? The choice is yours!

“Doing a first look was an easy decision for us. We wanted time just the two of us on our wedding day to share, before all the chaos. Seeing him before the ceremony put my nerves at ease. We also got to take so many more photos than we would have if we didn’t do a first look!From 2017 bride, Kendall

6.) Your Guests Won’t Have to Wait And You Get to Enjoy Cocktail Hour

groom cries during first look at lewis ginter botancial garden richmond weddingNormally during cocktail hour, your photographer is scrambling to ensure you get all of your family formals, bridal party and bride & groom portraits done within 1 hours time. While this is feasible, it does take the entire hour to accomplish. It is rare that one of our couple’s gets to join cocktail hour before they have to be introduced. When you choose to do a first look, it allows many portraits to be accomplished before the ceremony. You’ve spent months discussing which hors d’oeuvre’s you’ll serve – you should get to enjoy them too! And as an added bonus, your guests don’t have to wait as long, which will surely make them happy.

7.) Allows You to Choose the Best Time For Portraits

happy groom on wedding day in virginia beach

Depending on the time of year you’re getting married, there are certain times you will want to be outside. If your ceremony is planned too early or too late, you might not get all of your portraits complete in ideal light. Choosing to do a first look allows you to have a secondary time slot where you’re completing some of your portraits in case the weather isn’t expected to be favorable later on. While this reason is much more logistical than emotional, it is something to consider if you’re getting married in the spring or summer where rain is likely or the heat is unbearable.

“We chose to do a first look for a few reasons. One of them being we had a late evening summer wedding. We wanted to make sure we had enough sunlight, and getting our pictures done earlier meant our hair and my makeup were still pristine condition! It was also nice to have a little time just the two of us in the middle of the craziness of the day to soak it all in, since it was our day and a day we would never forget!” – From 2016 bride, Sara

8.) It’s the Only Alone Time You’ll Have Together

groom reacts to bride during first look in sugar mill ruins in callawassie island

We saved the best for last because this is the most important reason that you should consider having a first look. Are you ready for it? This is the only alone time you will have together all day long. From the moment that your wedding day begins, you will be on a tight schedule. At the end of the night, you will make the realization that you’ve had very little time together, just the two of you. For this reason alone, you should consider doing a first look.

“Doing a first look gave us the chance to relax together during a whirlwind of a day.  It was really the only time we got to spend alone. Being able to share such raw emotions between just the two of us was so unbelievably special.”From 2018 bride, Sarah

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through our top 8 reasons to choose a first look! A big thank you to our past clients who provided us with their feedback on why they chose to do a first look. No matter what decision you make, we hope that you have the best wedding day ever and can look back on it for years to come with joy!


Michael & Chelsea

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