By Shalese Kocher

This term has become such a norm in the wedding industry that we forget that engaged couples may not understand exactly what it means!  A first look is when the couple chooses to see each other before their ceremony.  It is usually coordinated by the photographer, and involves just the couple and their photographer.  There are a ton of benefits associated with first looks, and in our opinion, very few cons!


Private Time.  This is a HUGE pro to having a first look!  With all the hustle and bustle of a wedding day, it’s easy to forget WHY you’re doing all of this.  Seeing your future spouse in person and being able to hug them before you walk down the aisle is unforgettable.  It will also really help calm those pre-aisle jitters that you’re bound to have!

More Portraits.  For photographers, the first look makes the wedding day timeline run so much more smoothly.  It also makes your precious portrait time more intimate and unrushed, leaving you with more gorgeous photos of the two of you.  If portraits are a top priority, considering a first look is a must!

Kristine, owner of Kristine Pringle Photography, says, “In my experience, couples who opt for the first look call it their favorite part of the day. They loved having a moment for just the two of them. Plus, if you’re having an evening wedding during the late fall or winter, a first look provides plenty of daylight for your photos.”

Cocktail Hour.  Without a first look, ALL of the portraits, bridal party photos, and family photos happen right after the ceremony during cocktail hour. As a result, you, your bridal party AND your family miss the majority of that time with guests!  With a first look and some planning, all of the photos can be completed before the ceremony.  You’ll be able to go straight to enjoying cocktails with your guests!

This also gives the photographer the chance to shoot all of your gorgeous reception details if cocktail hour is in a separate location!

BONUS TIP: If you do choose a first look, be sure to tell everyone who will be in the family formals to arrive prior to the ceremony.  Your photographer will give you an exact time for them to arrive.


The one hang up that many couples have with the first look is that they want to ensure they get that classic, end-of-the-aisle moment.  Most wedding photographers will tell you that couples who have done a first look have just as much of a reaction.  Think about it: the start of the ceremony is a dramatic moment!  The music swells, all of your guests stand, everyone is watching . . . it’s still such a huge moment!  In all actuality, the first look can’t change that!

The Parent First Look

Another type of first look that many couples love is the parent first look. Kristine says, “If you’re looking to add some emotion to your photos, then this a moment to build into your timeline! Again, the photographer will stage the room where the bride has been getting ready.  Then, either one or both of her parents will enter to see her for the first time. In the times I’ve photographed these, I’ve definitely teared up behind my camera!”

wedding first look pros cons Richmond wedding tips
Kristine Pringle Photography

Featured image: Shalese Danielle Photography