What is the first look?

One of my favorite parts of the wedding day is the first look. Both of your faces are priceless. It’s just as powerful as the look of your fiancé watching you walk down the aisle.

Not everyone chooses to do the first look, and they don’t have to, but if you’re on the fence, let me tell you why I say yes to the first look.


Some couples are stuck on the non-traditional aspect of first looks, but they never get to understand how truly wonderful they are. Many people dream of their fiancé first seeing them as they walk down the aisle. They think that their fiancé’s reaction at the altar won’t be as genuine by having the first look. I promise that look is still just as magical as a first look. In fact, I find it even better. There is so much tension surrounding the big day with the timing and all the last-minute details coming together. After doing many first looks, I started to understand a few things.

While some couples really hold onto wedding traditions, what any person wants on their wedding day is to see their partner’s reaction. As I mentioned, there is a lot of tension and nerves on a wedding day. The nerves really kick in right as the ceremony is about to start and your fiancé is about to see you walk down the aisle. Once you’re at this part of the day, it starts getting real. They have to look at you for the first time in front of, usually, 50-150 people. It can be a lot.

How about instead of all of that, you and your fiancé can be someplace secluded and private where you can look into each other’s eyes? When you tap them on the shoulder or call their name, you get to enjoy that special moment all to yourself.

Danielle and Nik read letters to each other, then Dani surprised Nik with a first look (I helped plan it of course to make sure we had time to fit it in).

Once they see you, you can both cry, hold each other, kiss, and be super romantic without all eyes on you. You can really enjoy the moment when you do the first look. It can help ease some of the nerves that will still be there during the ceremony. There is no pressure during the first look; no one else is around besides myself and my 2nd photographer. How often does a couple get to be alone on the wedding day?

Once the romantic portraits wrap, your bridal party will join you. After the super fun bridal photos are over, everyone can relax before the ceremony as the guests make their way to their seats. Before you know it, the music begins, and your half of the bridal party comes down the aisle. Then you enter, and all the guests rise in your honor as you make your way to be with your best friend for the rest of your life. They are looking at you, looking your absolute best, and smiling at you like they never have before.

While I encourage all of my couples to do the first look, it is not necessary at all! Because I have done so many first looks and seen nothing but positive results, I must educate everyone because I want what’s best for my couples. If you aren’t interested in a first look, don’t worry, we will take later about creating a unique timeline to fit in everything.

Here is an overview of the benefits of first looks:

  • You increase the number of portraits you have by 40%! As your photographer, I know how much you’re investing. By having a first look, you get more images with your partner and really make the most out of your investment with me.
  • With a first look, you can enjoy the surprise in private. When your fiancé first sees you after you walk down the aisle, there is no time to talk about amazing you both look, touch, kiss, or really speak to you at all. The average ceremony is about 30 minutes, and THAT is when you finally get to talk and hold each other and be all romantic, but that reaction just isn’t the same as it was at the start of the ceremony.
  • The first look allows you to add more hours to your day! A wedding day without a first look usually starts with the ceremony, then family formals, then the bridal party photos, then finally your couples photos. With the extra time, you get to spend it actually hanging out with your best friends and family on your wedding day.
  • As ai have said over and over, the first look is your ONLY alone time. Between getting ready, the cocktail party, and the reception, where else do you get to be alone with your fiancé? Nowhere. And you get to enjoy cocktail hour. I was a guest at a wedding where the couple didn’t get to enjoy the expensive, delicious, professionally catered, and endless food. I’m talking bacon-wrapped scallops, little pastries, food on a stick, and there was an open bar the whole time they missed out on. As a person who actually enjoyed all of that, I would be sad if I didn’t get to enjoy the pricey cocktail hour—bacon-wrapped scallops. And I don’t even like fish.
  • As a person with anxiety, having a first look can help ease the nerves. There will be a lot of tension (especially if you’re like me and you get extra anxious BEFORE something happens), and you will appreciate going up to the altar and being able to calmly and confidently recite your vows. I’ve had some people tell me that even though they didn’t initially want a first look, they loved it at the moment so much. Plus, that look is priceless.

Before I wrap it up, let me talk to you about what your expectations should be as the person who will be tapping your partner’s shoulder or calling their name. Don’t expect your fiancé to cry or get emotional if that’s not who they are. Some people aren’t criers or super emotional, and that is super okay. Try not to put any expectations on your partner and just sit back and enjoy the day. Stress can make it hard for people to portray their emotions. A wedding is a lot. Give your partner some grace. You deserve to feel loved and beautiful but just enjoy the time together, no matter what the reaction is.

After Deana Surprised Laura, they each took a few minutes to tell each other how goregous they looked before they finally walked down the aisle.

I hope this helps you make an informed decision about whether you will be doing the first look. We can talk about the parent’s first look at another time.

-Taliya Michelle

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