Should You Do Wedding First Look Pictures?

If you’re planning a destination wedding then I bet that you have probably been asked by your photographer if you’re planning on doing a first look. When I ask our couples that same question, about half of them have never even heard of this and half have a definite opinion on it – one way or another.

So, what exactly is a first look?

A First Look is when the couple choose to see each other for the first time before the wedding ceremony. This is usually done about an hour and a half to two hours (or less in some cases) before the ceremony. It’s typically a very private moment, shared with just the couple – and the photographer, of course. The bride/groom is asked to stand in a set location, while the other bride/groom walks up behind them and taps them on the shoulder. Then when they turn around they get to set their eyes on their soon to be spouse in all their wedding glory for the first time.

Why do couples choose to do a first look?

For several reasons! But the main one, quite simply, is time. When you do a first look, it allows you to take all of the pictures of your wedding party (and sometimes your family) before the ceremony even occurs. Traditionally, most of those pictures happen after the ceremony and the wedding party, most of the family, and the couple could end up missing most (or all) of the cocktail hour.

Hideki Falcon Foto of bride and groom on beach at Hotel Xcaret for Yellow Umbrella Events

Speaking of the cocktail hour, when you do a first look, you’re more likely to be able to actually make it to the cocktail hour, where you can spend some extra time visiting with your guests. Your wedding day goes by so fast and this gives you just a little extra time to enjoy it.

And let’s not forget the nerves! If you think you are going to cry when you see your spouse to be for the first time, then a first look may be for you.  It’s a good time to let yourself get all emotional and cry it out, or laugh it out, or giggle yourself silly! Remember, it’s just the two of you, so enjoy it. And you don’t have to worry about ruining your make up because you have plenty of time for touch ups before the ceremony starts.

And my favorite part about the first look is the pictures. Besides the bride/groom being able to relax and focus on their bride/groom, it allows the couple the opportunity to see one another without 150 sets of eyes staring at them as they walk down the aisle. You don’t have to be calm, cool, and collected – you get to be yourself. I have seen couples absolutely lose it and cry like babies during the first look and I have seen them giggle uncontrollably, like little school girls. It’s so funny to watch their varied reactions – and it makes the best pictures! The first look pictures are almost always the ones I see pop up on IG after the wedding pictures are back. 🙂

A perk you may not have considered is the fact that you not only get these great first look photos, but you still get the pictures of the couple seeing each other for the first time as they walk down the aisle. You get to have two special moments instead of one – a private, personal, true emotion kind of moment and then a more serious, all eyes on you, kind of moment.

We love a first look for all of these reasons, and for some other logistical reasons as well, but this is a choice that you and you spouse to be will need to make on your own. Every couple has their reasons for choosing to do (or not to do) a first look and your photo/video team will respect that and be supportive of whatever decision you make. It’s your wedding day – and it should be just the way you want it.