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Why Should You Have a First Look?

Tips & Tricks

April 27, 2021

A first look is extremely beneficial to a wedding day and can be so precious and special. It’s also something that as a wedding photographer, I don’t want my clients to feel pressured into, but I always recommend it to them. In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the reasons why a first look can be so important on your wedding day.

What is a first look?

A first look is a moment on your wedding day for the bride and groom to see each other for the first time before the ceremony even begins. A first look happens after you are fully dressed for the wedding day with hair and makeup complete. The bride usually walks up behind the groom and he turns around and sees her for the very first time. This often happens in a beautiful intimate location that is not at the site of the wedding ceremony and happens when no one else is around so that the bride and groom get to have an intimate moment together. Sometimes that is just the bride and groom getting to see each other, or praying together, or sharing a letter that they wrote to each other. No matter what you choose to do in that moment, it can be extremely intimate and romantic and help to set the tone for the rest of the wedding day!

First Look on Wedding Day | Kate Martin Photography | Lancaster, PA Weddings | KateMartinPhoto.com

The Emotion is not diminished

One of the number one reasons a client doesn’t want to have a first look is because they don’t want to take away from the magic of walking down the aisle for the first time. I totally get it – there are high expectations for that moment that you have been dreaming of for a long time! But a first look does not take away from the magic! My husband and I had a first look on our wedding day and he was still really emotional when I walked down the aisle. There are multiple things that you can do to still have some element of surprise. If you are getting married in a church, you can have your wedding music be something that has a natural build-up for when the doors open and reveals the bride. If you’re wearing a veil, do your first look without your veil and then add the veil for when you are walking down the aisle.

Oftentimes, a bride talks about wanting a reaction – and that reaction will happen no matter what. There is always something so special about those doors opening or turning the corner and all of the guests standing up and music playing. It doesn’t matter if your groom has already seen you in that dress a hundred times – you are walking down the aisle to say “I do” for forever and his reaction is going to be an epic reaction (unless you have a spouse who just doesn’t react, but that’s so rare!).

Extra Portrait Time

Something else that is super beneficial to having a first look is that it increases your portrait time. If you don’t have a first look, all of the photos of just the bride and groom together are after the wedding ceremony, which is when you usually have a short amount of time until the reception begins and also needs to include family photos, the wedding party, and then bride and groom. When you have a first look, you are able to get all of the bride and groom portraits, as well as the wedding party portraits, and then in between the wedding ceremony and reception, you can focus just on the family portraits and possibly even have some time to enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests. That’s a huge bonus that takes a lot of the stress out of the day and the schedule for the bride and groom!

First Look on Wedding Day | Kate Martin Photography | Lancaster, PA Weddings | KateMartinPhoto.com

Another thing to consider when you are getting a first look is that you also get to have your bridal portraits taken when you look your best – just after your hair and makeup is completed. No sweating and crying yet! And trust me, your groom with thank you for that!

As a photographer, I also love to bring my clients out around the time that the sun sets (when possible) for about 15 minutes and spend 10 minutes taking portraits of the bride and groom and give the other 5 minutes for you to have some space to yourselves before heading back to the reception.

More Quality Time with Your Guests

So many couples walk away from their wedding day wondering where the time went and wishing they had more time to mingle or get a chance to interact with everyone who was there. As I mentioned briefly when discussing extra portrait time, when you have a first look and also choose to take photos of the bride and groom before the ceremony, you are also freeing up valuable time in between the ceremony and reception or during the reception to interact with your guests and truly enjoy your time during the reception.

First Look on Wedding Day | Kate Martin Photography | Lancaster, PA Weddings | KateMartinPhoto.com

Quality One-on-One Time

Another major benefit to having a first look is that it gives you some alone time! When I am taking photos of a first look, I make sure that it is literally only the bride and groom and my second shooter, and myself. No parents, no wedding party, no family. Just a moment for the bride and the groom to share together. It gives an intimateness to the whole feel and provides very romantic portraits. As photographers, we give a little bit of guidance during that first look moment, but mostly we like to just allow the moment to really embrace itself. I love watching the bride and groom enjoy being together and let the world around them melt away – and then get some beautiful photos.

First Look on Wedding Day | Kate Martin Photography | Lancaster, PA Weddings | KateMartinPhoto.com

Helps Relieve the Jitters

Having a first look also diminishes those nerves that you feel leading up to your wedding day. It happens to everyone – you’ve been anticipating this day for such a long time and it’s going to feel a bit overwhelming (in the best way)! A first look session can really calm everyone down for a bit and take some of that shaky feeling out of the day. It provides a sense of security to both the bride and the groom and removes some of the pressure of what is to come – so that you can both concentrate even more closely on each other and enjoying every single moment.


No matter what you choose to do during your wedding day as far as a first look or taking photos before or after the ceremony, you want to be confident in your choices for that day and stick to your decisions! But I also know that some of these decisions can feel really overwhelming – which is why I love to help equip and encourage my clients as much as possible with suggested schedules and timelines, style guides, and more!

First Look on Wedding Day | Kate Martin Photography | Lancaster, PA Weddings | KateMartinPhoto.com

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