First Look or Not? – What’s The Big Deal? -Wedding Planning 101

“Braska, What’s a “First Look”, and what kind of difference does it make?  Isn’t it supposed to be bad luck for the Groom to see the Bride before the ceremony?”

I get this question in some form or another so often, and, having experienced 15 years of wedding trends working this industry I’ve seen, I pray the First Look NEVER goes away! 🙏🏻

IMG_0175 My usual reply starts off with this witty little diddy: “Well first off if you’re relying on “luck” to get you through your wedding then you don’t need to be getting married because “luck” won’t get you through a marriage!”

NOTE: If you’re not a Christian then you can skip down reading now to just below the image below 😉

The looks I’ve gotten from mothers over the years have been priceless…like I’ve just blasphemed the Holy Name of Jesus Christ Himself.  Ha!

Yet, I stand by my statement because marriage, nor the wedding, has anything at all to do with “luck”.  It’s either God breathed and God blessed, or it’s not…and no amount of luck is going to save it if it’s not!

True story loves; If you believe in Christ, claim to know the Scriptures, especially if you’re getting married IN A CHURCH, and you’re banking on that barbaric superstition to carry you through your wedding then we need to have a *little* talk with Jesus…because that’s not how this works!  That’s not how annnny of this works! 😘🙏🏻😎

An-Alabama-Creekside-at-Colliers-End-Wedding-Destination-Wedding-Photographer-BraskaJennea-Photography_0087.jpgOn a serious note before we get in deeper…do you even know where this insane superstition came from originally?

Not seeing the Groom before the wedding orignated back in the days of, get this, ARRANGED MARRIAGES! 😱

Back then the Groom would walk away, or run, if he caught a glimpse of his soon to be Bride and wasn’t attracted to her.  Thus, veils, and the superstition were born.  Yes, that’s from whence it came.  Barbaric, and horribly sad right? 💔  And so many weddings are based around that awful “tradition”.

Now, with the horrible history lesson over let’s move on to the “What IS A First Look Exactly, and Why Do I Believe EVERY Couple Should Do One?”

Firstly it is, hands down, THE single most impactful change to how wedding days run since the creation of a Day of Timelines and Wedding Planners!!


For the  technical definition of a First Look it is when the bride and groom choose to see each other before the ceremony, usually as the very first pictures of the day, in order to take care of all of the pictures, or the majority of pictures.  This is done first, when the Bride is at her best (before sweat from hours of pictures, hugs, and tears ruin her makeup…and dirty her dress) so you can do, enjoy, and revel in all of the following!

1) You’ll be able to RELAX and not be so stressed!!! First Looks allow you to kick back a lot more because the timeline is more relaxed, and everything just flows better as there’s not such a time crunch.  The whole day is simply just more joyful once the Bride and Groom are finally together to enjoy their actual DAY together.

2) You will get MORE pictures together (and better because they’re not so stressed about time, or avoiding seeing each other!) since pictures of the B&G are THE MOST IMPORTANT images of the day.

Pro tip: First Look couples on average wind up with about twice as many images of them together than non-First Look couples.  So, if images of you and your Groom to Be are important to you then the First Look is for you!


Everyone said he wouldn’t “really” smile…except he DID during their First Look!


3) You actually get to ENJOY YOUR WHOLE DAY TOGETHER instead of merely a few action packed, no time to breathe, constantly bombarded by people, zero alone time, hours that are inundated with back to back pictures for at least an hour and half post ceremony…before the real busy-ness starts at the reception.

Not to mention not getting to touch at all when first seeing each other, followed by only getting to briefly hold hands until usually the First Dance, and share ONE tiny kiss before you have to ascend back down the aisle into a furry of constant people, pictures, and activities until you leave for the eve!

Seriously, who thought that up to begin with?  To me that’s TORTURE!  To not get to talk to, much less SEE, your beloved ALL DAY, and then ONLY HOLD HANDS for a few minutes, and ONE KISS before all hell breaks loose, and you’re bombarded for the next few hours with portraits, people, and no time to just enjoy each other…until you get in the car to leave your wedding?!?!  

I guess it all stems back to those arranged marriages days where they wouldn’t WANT to spend all that time with a stranger, as they wouldn’t be missing them and longing for them like you do for you love, but this is now…and I don’t know about you, but I want to spend MY WEDDING DAY making memories WITH my beloved!


Brides: How much more special is it when your Groom can comfort you that first time YOU see him?!


4) You get to the reception, the party, your FOOD, so much quicker, and you’ll actually be able to eat, mingle, and ENJOY the reception..AND EAT!

5) You will not have to make guests wait a minimum of one, average one and half, hours until they can eat after the Bride & Groom finish allll of the post ceremony portraits you couldn’t take before the ceremony.

6) You get to save money!  By not having to provide a cocktail hour with drinks and hors d’oeuvres while guests wait for you to finish pictures you can save money.  Especially for evening weddings.


7) You get to avoid the ever looooong stretch of straight pictures following the ceremony as your faces clench and tighten, and feet want to fall off from the solid standing and smiling for a solid hour to hour and a half.

Seriously, as much as you love ( or “love”- with a heavy eye-roll if you’re a male) portraits that whole standing and smiling, actually trying to look happy and not in pain, or BORED, for well over an hour STRAIGHT, because we’re under a tight timeline to get you to the reception ASAP while still getting the most important images of the day, WILL make you want to cry/scream/pass out/run away/ lay down/all of the above!

Left: The First Look  | Right: Bride’s Ceremony Entrance

Pro tip: Grooms you especially need to be aware of your facial expressions during those long portrait stretch crunches.  I get it, you’re hungry, you’re tired, your feet hurt, you hate wearing all those layers (your tie is probably strangling you), and you’re just ready to “get it over with already”…been there, done that (well…except the tie thing Ha!), and I’m hauling around a boat load of heavy gear all day to boot.

Trust me, NO ONE wants to be done with Post-ceremony Portraits MORE than your Photographer.  Seriously, you try joyfully, while being fun/funny, getting a slew of people ranging from babies to grandparents to ALL not just look at you at the same time, but to not look like they’re at a Funeral instead of a Wedding.  Just saying I get it, and there is a brilliant way to avoid it 😉


Left: Ceremony Face | Right: The First Look Face

8) This may very well be the biggest, and BEST, reason of all:  The Groom’s reaction is legit almost always 100% better, more emotional, in private than when a sanctuary, tent, barn, or field of guest’s (and his bro’s) eyes are all fixed on him! (Bonus: YOURS is too!)

It’s a LIE that they’re more likely to cry during the Ceremony than during a First Look.  Quite the opposite is true.  If they’re going to cry, or even crack a giant toothy grin instead of that bottom lip gripping, trying not to be too emotional, “man face” they’ll do it during the First Look!  If they’re actually going to shed tears trust me they WILL in all likelyhood do it BOTH times…First Look AND coming down the aisle.


Left: The First Look | Right: Ceremony Face…and no, he’s NOT looking at the Bride

Pro Tip: We have to delete SO many images from those “Aisle moments” (see above right hand image) all because:

1) After your Groom takes that first glance, and he feels tears start to possibly well, he starts looking EVERYWHERE ELSE except back at the Bride.

True story: Out of all the images we capture during the Ceremony Entrance we usually *might* end up with a handful of images where he’s *actually* looking AT you.  Male bravado? Not wanting to appear “weak” or somehow “less manly”, despite we women LOVING a teary eyed man filled with joyous emotion over us? I’m not exactly sure why it happens, I just know it happens all.the.time.

2) Because, for some inexplicable reason, you, the Bride, seem to feel this overwhelming need to look at everyone, who’s there to look AT YOU as you come down the aisle, except your Groom.

Maybe you’re checking to see if certain people came, or if there’s enough seating, or if there’s a load of empty seats…I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure: The more people there are during that “Aisle Moment” the more distractions you, and your Groom, WILL use to take your eyes off the prize…each other.

That HUG! It’s what dreams are made of!

Yes, there are exceptions, as some men simply don’t care to lose it as their beloved gift from God above descends the aisle to him, but, as you’ll see in the images above and below, time and time again I’ve captured over the last 7 years, the PURE JOY they feel when their Bride is revealed to them simply bursts forth so much more so when there’s just a photographer (or photographers) out of sight leaving only his Bride to behold. 😍

No audience, no “bros” standing by him ready to razz him forever if he cries, no…just he and his beloved, and an unencumbered moment to just let it all out.  Embrace. Wipe away tears. Laugh. Give you that “Let me take all of you in twirl” as he grins from ear to ear in admiration of the beauty before him.

You don’t get to have ALL of THOSE special moments when you wait for that ONE moment walking down the aisle during the Ceremony.

If you give her a twirl we’ll all love you forever!

Now, for those of you who absolutely want that “Aisle moment” I say HAVE IT!  Have the DJ or Musician(s) there to play or que up your Entrance tune, have your dad walk you down the aisle, it’s still far more private and intimate allowing him, and you, to ignore everything and everyone else.  I’ve helped Brides do that over the years, and it’s always more magical than doing it in a packed Ceremony Site.


I LOVE the Bride’s Reaction too during a First Look too loves!

So, here it is lovelies!  The whole nine-yards of the beauty and magnificence that is The First Look!

I know, it’s still a decision you and your Groom must make TOGETHER, but it should be YOUR decision, and no one else’s!  Not your mother’s, not his grandmother’s, not your Bridesmaid’s…YOU and HE! 

Now that you have, literally, ALL of the information presented to you, show this to your Groom, (and make sure he reads it! Because usually that whole Post Ceremony standing and smiling for a SOLID HOUR+ WITHOUT A BREAK can sway even the most staunch “No First Look” Groom 😉 ) ask yourselves “What will make YOUR DAY, your WHOLE DAY, more enjoyable FOR.YOU.BOTH?” 

Will not seeing each other except for a few, very busy, hours with little interaction, little PHYSICAL AFFECTION at all, OR truly relaxing, and getting to experience every.little.thing. together all the while getting so many more precious images of those experiences?

It is YOUR DECISION!  No one else’s, because YOU are the stars of the show, the only two people who will have to live with your decision for the rest of your married lives.  It IS just one day, not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of a LIFETIME together, but you want to be able to remember all the good things about it so choose wisely so you won’t regret a single things about it.

I’ve never met a Bride, nor Groom, who’ve regretted doing a First Look, but loves, I HAVE met a whole slew of them who regret “not getting to spend more of our day together because it just went by too fast, and we were always so busy I barely saw him/her.”

Like I’ve always coached my Brides on choosing the perfect Photographer for their day I urge you to “Choose wisely my loves!  You won’t get a “Do-Over”…not even for that First Look whether it’s Privately or amongst the masses during the Ceremony.



P.S. If you enjoyed this little knowledge drop do us a favor, and click that Share button below to help us spread the wealth of information😘

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