November 19, 2021

First look wedding photos: the pros, cons and examples

Today we’ll discuss first look wedding photos. This is a hot trend in the US, but hasn’t ever taken off in the same way in the UK. We’ll chat about what a first look is, and what the pros and cons are. Then we’ll see whether you might want to consider doing a first look for your own big day… or whether you’d prefer to wait to see each other when you’re walking down the aisle!

What is a first look anyway?

A first look is the moment the happy couple see each other on the wedding day (obviously) but typically refers to the couple seeing each other before walking down the aisle. It’s very common in the States for couples to see each other pre-ceremony. At the same time, they’ll take some couple photos, and sometimes smaller group photos or bridal party photos before the ceremony.

Often a first look is set up so that one person (eg the groom in heterosexual couples) has their back to the other. Then the bride will come and surprise the groom by tapping on his shoulder so that he can turn and see his bride-to-be for the first time and enjoy the big dress reveal.

Groom waits for bride during first look at Maidens Barn
groom sees bride on wedding morning in first look
first look at winter wedding

Another way you can do a first look is to stand back-to-back and turn round simultaneously which I think would be pretty cute too!

Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a first look…

The pros of first look wedding photos

As with any situation there are pros and cons and its down to you as a couple to decide what suits you best, but here are some of the main benefits of a first look.

Tewinbury Farm wedding photographer, Hertfordshire wedding photographer
winter wedding reasons to do a first look

Do you think you’ll be nervous on your wedding day?

Having spoken to previous couples, they said their first look took nothing away from their ceremony. But they said that it definitely helped with the nerves. In particular, one jittery pair who didn’t want to stand in front of a room full of folk springs to mind!

It’s a great way to see each other privately without 100 eyes on you. Plus, if you think you’re likely to blub and want a moment to touch up makeup pre-ceremony, then it gives you an opportunity for that too!

You can capture some truly beautiful photos

Your wedding can be such a whirlwind of emotions and people that you often don’t get a moment to yourself. It can be such a treat to have a quiet moment to start your special day together.

And this intimate moment can get you some really lovely photos together, not to mention the spontaneous photos of seeing each other!

Enjoy your wedding canapés!

It’s a well-known fact that the wedding couple are usually the people that eat the least canapés and drink the least of the reception drinks – not really fair right?! If you want that time back between your ceremony and wedding reception to enjoy those canapés, chat with friends and enjoy some downtime, then not needing lots of time away from your guests for group shots and couple shots is the perfect solution.

Tewinbury Farm wedding photographer, Hertfordshire wedding photographer
Tewinbury Farm wedding photographer, Hertfordshire wedding photographer

Are you planning a winter wedding?

With the days getting short, the light is often gone by 4pm and you don’t have enough light left to take photos outdoors. This means you either need to think about having a very early ceremony to get your photos in during daylight hours or take advantage of morning light.

Most of the first look photos I’ve taken have been at winter weddings for exactly this reason; once a lot of couple shots are taken in the morning it’s only group photos to take care of after the ceremony.

bridal party during first look

The cons of first look wedding photos

As mentioned, this won’t be right for everyone, so let me point out some of the reasons that this may not be right for you and your loved one.

You have to be organised on your wedding morning

Obviously, if you want photos before the ceremony then you need to be ready earlier. You need to ensure sufficient time to do your first look, take some photos and do any small groups that you want to take as well.

This might be waking up earlier, depending on your ceremony time, or just being really organised with your time on the day. It doesn’t take much time to have a first look. However, if you are running late and haven’t planned in sufficient time for photos post ceremony and run late in the morning as well, you could put your photos in jeopardy.

family watching couple's first look

Are you particularly traditional?

This is where the majority of Brits seem to come unstuck. One half of the couple seems to quite like the idea and then the other feels that it’s not tradition or it’ll ruin the aisle moment – we’re still a traditional bunch at heart!  There is also an outside chance that some guests will see you either during this emotional moment or just after it, depending on the set up of your venue.

Do you feel that the aisle moment will be different if you’ve seen each other first?

How worried are you about your wedding dress?

This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but some people don’t want their dress to be anything other than perfect to go down the aisle, so the thought of having been outside in the dress first is a total no-go. However, we can a perfect place at your wedding venue carefully to be on hard ground rather than clambering through a muddy field if this is important to you!

emotional first look

What I think you should do?

Well, of course, that isn’t for me to say!

If you decide this is something you might be interested in then I’d be more than delighted to chat through your wedding day timeline and help you capture this really intimate and special moment between you.

And if you decide that this isn’t right for you as a couple (and it isn’t right for everyone) then I’ll be there waiting at the top of the aisle for you to get your vows on!

I hope this helped you figure out what might be right for you as a couple, but if you want to chat anything through simply get in touch.

Or if you want to see some more St Albans wedding photography you can do that on that link and I’ll look forward to chatting about your big day.

About Tori

Hi I’m Tori, welcome to the home of all things happy! Here I reckon you’ll find some of the happiest photos in Hertfordshire…I love being around love so I was made for photography. Your wedding, your family days, your passion projects; they all give me the grins. Anything you want to chat about, I’ve probably seen it so get in touch because I love a good natter. Plus, maybe we’re friends that just haven’t met yet, who knows?!