While I get a lot of questions from my couples during wedding planning, this is probably one of the top three questions I get — “Oh I don’t know, should I do a first look? Is that a common thing?”


So, to answer the question quickly - it’s honestly up to you as a couple if you do one or not. A lot of people have reasons for not doing it, such as

-Wanting to keep with tradition
-They want to see him cry (seriously, this is a reason haha!)
-Respecting parents and grandparents who don’t think it’s appropriate
-Keeping that element of surprise until the very last minute
-They want to exchange gifts and/or letters instead

Yes, there are plenty of other reasons why couples opt to not do a first look per se - but these are just some of the typical reasons I get.

As the photographer, I can tell you that it is highly recommended that a first look be done on the big day. Why, you ask? Well…

It really helps with the day’s timeline for photography. Timeline?! What? Okay, maybe I got ahead of myself. In short, I work with my couples to produce a timeline for photography for the day of the wedding that we all agree on. This timeline helps to establish some guidelines for all parties to follow so they know when to start getting ready, when family members need to be where, etc. It’s an incredibly useful tool and really does help make the day go very smoothly. But how does the First Look play into the timeline? One thing that all weddings seem to get stuck on is the family photo and bridal party photos after the ceremony. Guests are often found to complain because it takes forever for photographs and they are just prepared to wait around until the happy couple arrives to kick off the reception. If you opt to do a first look, practically ALL of your photos can be done before the ceremony, so the reception can begin sooner and the party can get rolling! I have done this method several times, mostly in my last wedding season, and I have to say I see the perk!


It relieves tension amongst the couple. You’re getting married. There’s a lot of fuss around the couple, making sure they have everything the need, getting them to their locations, etc. It’s just a lot. And the one person you want to talk to or see is the one person you can’t until you walk down the aisle. By doing a First Look, you can relieve that tension before the ceremony and go into it even more excited. I’ll break that down more here shortly.

While two reasons don’t seem like much, they are two very important reasons from my perspective as the photographer. When my couples are tensed and stressed, it photographs. And we don’t want to have negative memories from the wedding day right?!

Okay, so you decide to do that first look. Awesome! Now what?

There’s several ways this can be done.

1) Privately. Just you, your future spouse and the photographer(s). This allows for a chance for the moment to be captured for the two of you, but also (at least for my couples) I build time into the timeline so they have 10-15 minutes to be together and talk. As I mentioned before, it tends to be a very busy day because there is so much going on - and I want to make sure they have the happiest times going into the ceremony and evening fun!

2) Just family present. A lot of times, moms want to be there to see the first look because they want to take photographs. And sometimes this is okay! Especially if both sides of the family are really close and have been for some time. It’s like the best part of the book - the happy ending! And the families really want to spend that time together.

3) Everyone’s invited! Yep, just anyone can be there to witness this moment. This doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it usually ends in the bridesmaids teary and needing a makeup touchup and the guys razzing the groom because he got emotional. :)

Again, as I said before, the final decision is up to you whether or not you do a first look. But - I honestly think it’s a great option and helps with the overall flow of the day! Plus, just being honest, it really is a FANTASTIC photo op and album filler for your memories! <3

Amber Pond