I  have confessed my deep love for “First Looks” numerous times and I tend to point them out as often as possible. There is a reason for this. They’re AWESOME! However, not everyone is aware of how awesome they are, because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is, and they immediately write it off.  So many brides want a REACTION…. they want their groom to be so surprised and overcome with joy when they walk down the aisle that he bawls at the first sight of her!  Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction? Don’t worry, often times even after sharing an intimate “First Look” moment on the wedding day, the groom STILL loses it when his bride comes down the aisle. Keep on reading, to get my top 5 reasons to consider a first look with your groom.

Based on my experience in wedding photography, I’ve come to this conclusion.  Some brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is a REACTION.  Those who are not interested in a First Look 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. What I have found (this is starting to sound like a research paper!) is so ironic!  Everyone knows that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and groom.  

The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, they need to be on time, the groom has no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to go on and little by little… the tension grows.

It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in and the calm, collected groom who was playing games just a few short hours ago is now starting to feel a little anxious. So what happens next?  The groom waits in a little room somewhere for his que from the coordinator.  It seems like it’s taking FOREVER.  

Finally, the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the groom to get ready.  With clammy hands, the groom enters the ceremony and what does he find? …. he finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful. But after a first look, when the bride walks down the aisle… the groom isn’t a nervous wreck…he had spent the morning with his bride and best friends and the pressure was OFF. By the time the ceremony rolls around, everyone is ready to ENJOY the beautiful day!


So if I were to condense what I just wrote… basically, Grooms normally become incredibly nervous on wedding days…. even if they seem cool and collected.  

For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place…

no people,

no on-lookers,

no distractions,

and  you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time.  He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway.

Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits.  No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure.  It’s just the two of them and their photographer….. capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First Look…. it doesn’t.  After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends.  Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup while the boys act like boys.  After a few minutes the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN. They’re FUN, because there is time to make them FUN.

There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check.  It’s wonderful!  

After portraits finish, the girls and guys separate to prepare for the ceremony.  The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony.  As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement.  The music builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead.  The groom looks up, and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning.  The closer she gets, the bigger he smiles.

Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing this option with couples who were against it, because I didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again, and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look!  It’s just my preference to do one for many reasons…. Keep reading to find out more of the benefits of sharing your first look privately!



Here are my top 5 reasons to consider a first look!

1. 40% MORE PORTRAITS

Consider a first look with your groom! Couple shares first look on fall road with pretty fall leaves and pink bouquet

This is the most tangible reason to consider a first look. You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with! With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and ensure that you have plenty of decorations to use forever.

2. DIMINISHES NERVES

Consider a first look with your groom! Couple shares first look on wedding day on a football field in Cincinnati, Ohio

You get rid of your nerves! I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have decided to do a first look, the grooms were not fans of the idea at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve wracking it can be. In the end, they’re glad that they took the time to consider and share a first look

3. ENJOY THE SURPRISE

Consider a first look with your groom! Couple shares first look at Bridgewater Country Club in Carmel, IN

Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look (at which point your photographer will be getting you into position for all of your family formals). And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.

4. EXTEND YOUR DAY

Young couple shares first look among flowers and roman columns at Minnetrista in Muncie Indiana

Normally the wedding day starts when you come down the aisle, then you rush through portraits, and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your wedding party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. 

5. YOUR ONLY TIME ALONE

Consider a first look with your groom! Wedding couple shares first look at 1899 allowing for more portraits and time alone on their big day

First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day.

Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals, and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other, and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments!

Consider a first look with your groom! Groom & Bride with bouquet and veil standing with waterfall on wedding day in Japanese Garden in Chicago IL


So there you have it! My top 5 reasons for why you should consider a first look on your wedding day! If you’re worried that seeing each other beforehand will take away from the special-ness when you’re coming down the aisle, check out this idea for keeping a little surprise hidden for later!

No matter what you decide, make sure you choose a photographer who is on board and ready to capture all of these sweet, once-in-a-lifetime moments!