What is a first-look? Why would I consider one?

The first-look has been around for a long time, but the concept doesn't seem to reach everyone. I've seen a fair share of them in my time, so I am happy to explain. As someone who values tradition very much, I can understand why a person wouldn't ever even consider doing a first-look. The first-look can be a very romantic start to your wedding day with many benefits. There is also something to be said for tradition and in certain cases, you may not need one at all.


First, lets go over what a first-look is. The first-look is when a couple sees each other for the first time. This is traditionally staged by me, your photographer, so that I can successfully capture the reactions of you two seeing each other for the first time.

A first-look can be set up many ways, but the most popular and easiest way to set up a first-look is to have one person wait while turned away from the approaching partner. In the case of a heterosexual couple, typically I will position a groom out eyesight of the bride and have her approach him from behind. A quick tap on the shoulder to have him turn around, and bang! A perfect first look.

Linda and Austin's First Look.


Of course, there are other ways of setting up a first look and it is an opportunity for us to get creative! I suggest however, to keep things as simple as possible as we are always trying to stay on schedule!

Maggy and Mark's First Look


So now you're probably thinking, "Ashley, you said that a first-look can be beneficial. How?" Well, I'm glad you asked!


Like I said a little bit ago, it's an opportunity to get creative! It can be a really great and exciting part of the day. It is also usually the only time you are alone together. I mean, I'm there. I'm always there. Seriously, you hired me to stalk you all day... I'm being silly. I promise that I make sure you have your moment together!


A first-look is a real time-saver. When a couple see each other before a wedding we can accomplish a lot of photos ahead of time. Some of your portraits as well as all of your attendants (or bridal party) portraits can be made before your ceremony. Although your cocktail hour is an appropriate amount of time to capture all portraits (family, attendants, and yours), if you elect to do a first-look, this makes that hour a little less stressful. In some cases it frees up time to allow for mishaps, bathroom breaks, and/or maybe getting you to your cocktail hour. We are less likely to go over-time and get you to your reception on schedule when you elect to do a first-look.


In my experience, a lot of couples are also more at ease after they've seen each other for the first time. It can take the pressure off of the ceremony. I actually really suggest an intimate first-look for couples that are sensitive or do not like a lot of attention. I have seen the relief melt off couples' faces in seconds.


If that reaction of your partner seeing you walk down the aisle is what you have your heart set on, a first-look might also be something you might want to consider. I know that doesn't make sense... let me explain. If it is the reaction, the moment your partner sees you, is the photograph you want, it can be achieved while you are walking down the aisle, but it is easier to capture that reaction through a first-look.


Often times, when a bride or partner is walking down the aisle, your guests are indicated to stand, or through tradition, elect to stand. This makes it difficult to get your groom or partner's reaction captured because they may be blocked by bodies. And sometimes, in unfortunate cases, a cell phone may block the lens as well. I am restricted by what is happening around me to achieve photographs sometimes. With a first-look, I have much more control.

This being said. Please, please, please, do not let this discourage you from asking for what you really want. If the moment you walk down the aisle is the moment you want to see each other, then that is what we are going to do and I will do everything in my power to achieve the most heartwarming photographs of that.