First Look or Not? A Guide to Help Couples Decide on the Perfect Wedding Day Moment!

I wrote this as homework for my couples to sit down together, read this blog, and decide for themselves what feels most authentic. If you haven’t been part of a wedding party for a while, you might not know how the flow of a day goes with all the order of events. As the wedding photographer, I am here to help you with your day schedule so that you can get a timeline that feels most true to you.

The first question I always ask is, “Do you want to do a first look or not?” This question helps me plan your day accordingly and make sure everything else gets the time it needs. There are pros and cons to doing a First Look! Of course, it is each couple’s personal decision. Some couples feel that it makes the day more relaxed and intimate. Others worry that it will take away from the emotion of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony walking down the aisle. There is no wrong answer, but I’m here to show you what’s possible when deciding. Keep reading for pros and cons to help you decide! 


“What the heck is a first look?!” You all know, Grandma will ask, “Why are you two together?! You aren’t supposed to see each other yet!” Well Grandma, the couple has decided to see each other for the first time on their wedding day, before the ceremony so they can have a moment alone together. This concept has gained popularity only in the past 10-15 years, and it is something that many couples are now considering for their special day.


I want you to close your eyes and dream about seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day. Think about how you have had all the stress of bringing your family and friends in one place. You last saw each other all morning and early afternoon. Do you want your coming-together moment in front of all your loved ones? One of the significant advantages of doing a First Look is that it allows the couple to share an intimate moment alone before the wedding ceremony. They can share their anxiety and excitement with each other while having a chance to clear their minds in a private setting. It also allows both partners to express their emotions without worrying about the guests watching them.

Many couples also share personal vows to be authentic and not have to stay PG in front of their family, or fear people comparing their vows. Having the First Look also allows the couple to finish their formal pictures earlier, which frees up time for them to attend cocktail hour with their guests. Some guests travel long distances to participate in the wedding, allowing the couple to spend more time with them. Additionally, having more time for photos will help the couple get more creative and stunning shots!


One of the most common cons of doing a First Look is that it may take away from the overall emotion of meeting each other during the ceremony. Though you will still experience this, it will be privately. Some couples feel that “the magic” of the moment is lost when they see each other before the wedding. Everyone is different, so if you like to have that moment shared in front of everyone, and around all your loved ones, then maybe a First Look isn’t for you. Also, some may argue that breaking down the tradition may create disappointment among some families. Of course, most families just want their kids to be happy! 

A First Look comes with schedule constraints that could make the day a bit more stressful. It can be challenging to coordinate everyone’s availability, which could delay the ceremony, and then lead to cause unnecessary stress for the couple. I’ve had a few couples that have mentioned they regret not waiting until the ceremony to see each other because it created a more emotional and memorable moment.

Now, below are a couple timelines to look over! See which day feels more like you two! It will only go off with a hitch, but just think about where your attention will be with each event on the timeline, and if that gives you enough time with all your guests. 


With a first look…

1:00 Leanna arrives to photograph details of the day

1:30 Bride gets final touches on her hair and makeup (mom is dressed to help bride get into dress)

1:30 Leanna photographs guys getting ready

2:00 Bride gets into her wedding dress

2:30 Bride does a reveal with Grandma in the Bridal Suite area

3:00 First Look with Groom 

3:30 Bridal Party Pictures

4:00 Family pictures

4:30 Hide Groom and Bride away from guests 

5:00 Ceremony

5:30 Cocktail hour starts

6:00-6:15 Sunset pictures with Bride and Groom

6:30 Ask guests to sit down for dinner

6:45 Grand Entrance

7:00 Dinner Starts 

6:44 Sun fully sets

7:45 Toasts

8:00 Cake cutting 

8:15 First Dances

8:30 Dance floor opens 

Without a first look…

12:30 Leanna gets to Foster Creek to photograph details 

1:00 Bride gets her final touches on hair and makeup 

1:30 Bride gets into a wedding dress with mom

2:00 Bride reveals dress to grandma 

2:30 Leanna photographs guys getting ready

3:00 Bridesmaids pictures

3:30 Groomsmen pictures

4:00 Hide Bride and Groom away from guests 

4:30 Ceremony 

5:00 Cocktail hour starts

5:00 Family Pictures

5:30 Full Bridal Party Pictures

5:45 Sunset photos of Bride and Groom 

5:45 Ask guests to be seated

6:00 Grand Entrance 

6:15 Dinner Starts 

6:44 Sun Fully Sets

7:00 Toasts 

7:30 Cake Cutting 

7:45 First Dances 

8:00 Dance Floor Opens 


As a wedding photographer, I have been fortunate to capture many couples during their first-look moments. I can attest to the beauty and intimacy of this moment! It is a personal decision and depends solely on the couple’s wants. But, if you’re still wanting a bit of guidance, here are my suggestions… First, if the couple desires a private and intimate moment together before the ceremony, they should go for it! If that is what your gut is telling you, do it. 

On the other hand, if the couple is more traditional and prefers to wait until the ceremony to see each other, then they should stick to that. Again, follow your gut. The ceremony is very emotional, and they do not want to take that away. Remembering that these photos are memories they will treasure forever is essential. Again, there is no wrong decision, and it’s very personal, so you should only do what feels right to you! 


First Look photos are a beautiful and an emotional moment for both the couple and the photographer. It is essential that, as the photographer, I capture your personality and emotions during this moment. It is my responsibility to ensure that I capture your raw emotions! Keep in mind that for First Look photography, choosing the right location is essential. The area should be private, quiet, and intimate, providing a relaxed space for the two of you.

Also, timing is essential to ensure optimal lighting and to allow enough time for pictures. Again, whether or not you have a First Look is a personal decision for each couple! Do what feels right for you both. It has advantages and disadvantages, like many decisions. The couple should consider both before making their final decision, and should think about what’s important to them and what emotions they want to feel on their big day. 

Hopefully this helped you decide on what is best for you! There is no right or wrong in this. It is YOUR day, and you need to do what best suits you as a couple. Happy planning! 🙂

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