Wedding Tips

To First Look or Not To First Look?

First Look Wedding Photos by Stefani Ciotti Photography

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First Look Wedding Photos can be an amazing part of your wedding day! If you aren’t sure about this tradition… or what it even is… keep reading! Today we’ll be sharing why a First Look could be a romantic addition to your wedding day that not only adds to the experience but also reduces stress! But, first…


“Walking Down the Aisle” Tradition’s Origin

It has been a long-standing tradition that couples wait to see each other for the very first time on their wedding day at the altar. While we’re all for upholding and honoring important customs and traditions; have you ever found yourself thinking “but, why this one”? We certainly have! So, before we dive into what a First Look is and why we love them, let’s first take a look at the origin of this tradition!

Bride walking down the aisle with father

Back in the day, arranged marriages were actually normal. Marriage was considered more of a business deal between families rather than a union based on love. The families would come to an agreement and set the wedding. Because this was generally an arrangement made by the bride’s father to marry her into a wealthier family, he might worry that if the groom saw her in advance he may not find her attractive and could call the wedding off. This would lead to a tremendous amount of shame on the bride and her family. Therefore, it became a superstition and “bad luck”.

So, in order to avoid risking their family’s reputation, the couple wouldn’t just spend the morning or night-prior apart like we do today; it was actually very normal for the couple to never have seen each other. At all. (The veil plays a big part in this as well actually; it was intended to help conceal her face until the very last moment when it would be too late for the groom to back out!)

Not quite as romantic of an origin story as you might have thought, right? That’s what we thought too. So, with that in mind…


What is a First Look?

A First Look is simply when a couple sees each other on their wedding day for the first time, in an intimate setting, BEFORE the ceremony.

First Look Wedding Photos groom crying

Okay, but now you may be asking, “why”? What are the benefits of doing First Look wedding photos? Well, we’re so glad you asked!


Why Do First Look Wedding Photos?

There are so many benefits to doing First Look wedding photos. But today, we’re going to break down our favorite 5 reasons why we think you should consider them:


1. Enjoy an intimate moment

First Look Wedding Photos

With a First Look, you actually get to have an intimate moment on your wedding day with your significant other. This does not generally happen otherwise. Most of us don’t realize that when you come down the aisle, your partner doesn’t even have the opportunity to tell you how amazing you look! They can’t spin you around, embrace you, tell you how beautiful you are or how excited they are to be marrying you! You have to wait until the ceremony is over for them to share their thoughts. And by then, the reaction is never the same.


2. Extend your wedding day by hours

First Look Wedding Photos allow you to extend your wedding day by several hours. Normally, the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle. Then you spend the Cocktail Hour trying to cram in Family Formals, Wedding Party Photos, AND your Couple’s Portraits before rushing off to the Grand Entrance. Whereas, the First Look allows us to get most of your important group photos done before the ceremony. This frees up a significant amount of time after the ceremony for us to focus on portraits of YOU and then getting everyone to the party quicker!


3. First Look Wedding Photos mean 40% more portraits

First look wedding photos geniune reaction

You’ll receive at least 40% MORE portraits of the two of you, if not more, because of the timing mentioned above. These are arguably the most important photos of the day! But, sadly, also the first photos to get cut when the day is running behind. This ensures you get photos of all your friends and family AND plenty of photos of the two of you!


4. Your only alone time

It actually allows you two to have a moment alone together on your wedding day. It’s the one quiet moment the two of you will have to share before the whirlwind of the day begins. Normally, portraits are a little rushed after the family formals & wedding party and it can be hard to get back into that relaxed “lovey-dovey” mood. But when you have just shared your First Look, you’re ready to love on each other! And this is when we’re really able to capture those super sweet and genuine images!


5. Get a more genuine reaction

What we’ve found is (unless traditions are specifically important to you) most of our brides are just after the reaction. Isn’t it every girl’s dream to walk down the aisle and have their partner so overcome with joy and emotion that they bawl at the first sight of her?! Who wouldn’t want that, right?  Well luckily, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds!

With a First Look, you are able to share an intimate “First Look” moment AND it’s completely likely that your partner will still tear up when you come down the aisle. If not even more so because now there’s less stress and pressure on them and they can simply enjoy the moment to its fullest.  

Bride and groom during outdoor wedding photoshoot

Those who are not interested in First Look wedding photos usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. But, ironically, we’ve found the opposite to be true!

It’s before the ceremony that the gravity of what is about to happen really starts to sink in. The nerves and tension continue to build and build. Then add to that the couple hundred pairs of eyes on them and all the expectations and the anticipation about their first reaction! It’s a lot of pressure and the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment.  

Emotional groom during first look wedding photo session

There is no arguing that it is a wonderful and powerful moment. But, after a First Look, when you walk down the aisle your partner isn’t going to be a nervous wreck. Instead, they’ll have spent the first part of the day with you and all your closest friends and the pressure will be OFF.

By the time your ceremony rolls around, they will be ready to fully enjoy your beautiful day instead!  

The bottom line is: when the nerves are gone… true emotions are free to be expressed.  

Bride and groom intimate wedding portraits

First Look Wedding Photos – Your Decision

All that to say, we are clearly huge advocates of the First Look. But, do all of our couples choose to do them? Of course not and we fully respect their decision. After experiencing well over a hundred weddings throughout the years, we simply wanted to bring to your attention the many benefits of doing one, in the hopes that it will help make your final decision easier!

We hope this was helpful! Please reach out if we can answer any further questions – we’d love to be of assistance.

Until next time: happy planning!

Bride and groom laughing during first look
Bride and groom holding hands and smiling at each other
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