Wedding Tips

To First Look or Not to First Look

November 20, 2019

The first look. A chance for you and your husband to see each other before your official wedding ceremony! As a wedding photographer, I can’t even tell you how highly I recommend having a first look. Your entire wedding day timeline will be shaped around whether or not you have a first look, so it’s a pretty significant decision. The first look is highly emotional, and for good reason. The first time you see your spouse-to-be is monumental!

I’m shamelessly in favor of a first look, but I have worked with brides who choose not to have one and understand their reasoning, too. I don’t want any brides to feel pressured into making a decision they don’t fully understand, so here I’ve broken down the pros and cons of having a first look to help you make the best decision for your Big Day!

To First Look

OK, here’s the deal. When you choose to have a first look with your partner, you give yourself the time and freedom to enjoy your cocktail hour and reception with your guests. We will take all of your formal portraits, wedding party photos, and family photos before the ceremony. This means that when the ceremony is over you can go directly to the party! We will also have plenty of time to take as many photos as you want without feeling pressured to get them over with so you can join your reception.

In Nashville, we are all too familiar with unpredictable weather. Your sunny day can become a rainy mess in the blink of an eye. If you choose to do a first look, we have a lot more control over fitting your photos into breaks in the weather. We can wait for the sun to peek through or move up your photo time to get them in before rain begins.

The logistics alone convince many brides to opt for a first look, but there’s also an emotional aspect. There are very few moments in a couple’s wedding day for them to be alone. A first look is the perfect opportunity to share a personal, intimate moment between just the two of you! You don’t have to worry about others watching you react to seeing each other for the first time. You can share a kiss, a hug, and take a few minutes to talk about how you’re feeling. If you are super anxious or nervous about walking down the aisle, a first look is also a great way to get your nerves out ahead of time so you can enjoy your wedding ceremony without anxiety.

The first look is also the best way to make sure everyone’s hair and make up is still fresh. Bridal parties love first looks because we schedule their pictures soon after they wrap up with hair and make up!

To Not First Look

I love seeing a groom’s reaction as he sees his bride walking down the aisle for the first time! You only get that reaction once, and if you’ve always dreamed of your husband seeing you for the first time as you walk down the aisle, you may want to opt out of the first look. You also get to share the magic of the moment with your guests when you wait to see each other at the ceremony. Guests love when a wedding ceremony feels intimate.

If you can’t arrive at your venue until later in the day, a first look may not fit well in your timeline. Brides who have built in a large break (at least 1.5 hours) between their ceremony and reception won’t have the typical timeline considerations, so they may be happy to save their first look for the ceremony.

If you decide to forego a first look, you need to know that we will need about an hour and half after your ceremony to get in your family photos, bride and groom portraits, and wedding party portraits. You’ll need to plan a cocktail hour with plenty of food and drinks to keep your guests entertained while they wait for you to arrive.

Bonus Tip: If you want to share a quiet moment together on your wedding day, but don’t want to do a first look, you can always opt for a first touch! Exchanging letters, gifts, or a prayer together is the perfect way to share an intimate moment without seeing each other!


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Nashville entrepreneur, personal brand and wedding photographer, and digital marketing consultant. I'm on a mission to empower and encourage women in their current season of life, whether that is business and entrepreneurship, marriage, or motherhood. 

I'm Mandy


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