The Truth About the First Look

First look

A few weeks ago, we were interviewed by one of Denver’s finest catering companies. One of their questions was, “Which wedding trend are you looking forward to this spring and summer?” Without hesitation, we immediately answered: the first look.

The first look is simply when the bride and groom see each other in a secluded area without any distractions for the first time before the wedding ceremony. This is usually scheduled and prepared by the wedding photographer and is typically far enough away from all the hustle and bustle of pre-wedding events. What initially started out as a great photo opportunity, has quickly turned into a beautiful, organic, and intimate moment in time for a couple on their wedding day to spend a little time together with their best friend before the craziness of the wedding begins. The more first looks we have had the honor of being a part of, the more we value this time for the couple as it’s usually the only time they have alone on their big day.

To be clear, I am in no way trying to undermine the beauty of tradition and waiting until the altar. In fact, Mike and I opted for tradition ourselves, first seeing each other on our wedding day at the altar. My aim is to simply shed light on a relatively new tradition in the wedding industry and offer some considerations to couples who may be on the fence about seeing each other before the wedding ceremony.

The history of waiting until the altar dates back to the times when a father would sell his daughter to a man in the name of marriage to pay off debt, or just make a few bucks. The bride and groom weren’t allowed to see each other until the altar for the sole reason that the groom couldn’t bolt if she wasn’t his type/ugly/had a crazy disease. Seriously, that’s where this tradition began. Since the good ol’ days, it’s become a tradition to wait until the alter for the bride and groom to see each other. However, with the hectic nature of a wedding, many couples are opting for a first look.

Curious to hear the opinions of the couples who did opt for a first look, I decided to interview couples who we’ve had the honor of working with and being a part of their special moment. Hopefully their insight will help you make a decision if you’re consider whether or not a first look is for you!


What made your first look special?

"One of the best memories of that day was the first look. The sun was shining, I felt amazing, and I got to sneak up on Arty!! We were quickly offered a stiff cocktail and were given our own golf cart. When we sat in the golf cart we laughed, teased each other, and toasted one another. It gave us time to be ourselves and live in the moment. We were both apprehensive about being the center of attention the entire day so this gave us time to be together, have a few drinks, and relax. I wouldn't have done it any other way, it was truly the most memorable part of our whole day. We had so much fun cruising around in golf carts; just him and I!" - Nicole and Arty, Married June 2014

What are your thoughts about your experience with the first look?

"Mikey and I loved doing the first look, it was one of the main things I had to have happen with our wedding. Not only did it allow us more time after the ceremony to visit with our guests, it's a little more personal between the bride and groom without all the guests being there to watch as well. It also helped to calm our nerves before the big walk down the aisle. Even though there was the threat of rain and all the wind our first look actually turned out really well, I'm so impressed with your work Taylor. I think our first look was really the only personal time we had to ourselves without someone else being around, I really enjoyed it and wouldn't have had it any other way (well maybe minus the storm but hey that's Colorado for you)." -Mike and Chelsea, Married July 2014

Did your family conflict with your decision to do a first look?

"My family did not have any polarizing opinions against our decision to do a first look. Of course we fielded questions about the superstitions of seeing each other before the wedding, but nobody ever criticized us for doing it this way."(Bryan) "And they knew that since Bryan and I are pretty private people, a first look on our own before the ceremony was a more heartfelt way of expressing our excitement and love. My most memorable moment was Bryan's reaction: how he immediately hugged me and lifted me up in the air and how completely comfortable and excited we were about each other and about the day. That's why I couldn't stop laughing, all my emotions just bubbled over!" (Hanh) -Hanh and Bryan, Married August 2014

How do you feel it changed, if at all, your walk down the aisle?

"The First Look experience didn’t make seeing each other at the alter any less special. If anything, we felt closer & more ready for the moment. And with all our family & friends staring at me as I walked down the aisle, it was hard to focus solely on Ben’s face. I’m so happy I got to see the expression on his face up close, not across the room, when he saw me in my dress for the first time. And if I ever forget that look, I have a photo of it!" -Kelly and Ben, Married May 2014

Do you feel it made a difference in your photos?

"We chose to photograph our First Look, and following it, did a pre-ceremony photo shoot. We enjoyed this time together and felt it honored our guests as they did not wait long for the reception to start. We loved the time and the pictures we gained from it and the First Look allowed us to let our hair down prior to the tension of the ceremony. Taylor and Mike's light hearted approach was exactly what we needed...Taylor urged us to take a brief photo shoot midway through the dinner hour to capture some "just married" shots. We thought she was spot on with that advice. Those are some of our favorite pictures. We were glowing." -Katharine and Ed, Married October 2014

Aside from the first look, do you feel like you had much time to yourselves on your wedding day?

"We did have some time just to ourselves, but not a ton. We did go with the "sweetheart" table at dinner, which gave us some time just the two of us during dinner, and of course we spent time dancing together :) , but it all went so fast and there was not a ton of time just the two of us. The first look and the nice time spent doing our couples photos were a really great part of our wedding day time together!" -Dan and Brittany, Married January 2015

What do you remember most?

"I think the one thing for me with the first look was really being able to focus just on Brett and not on anyone or anything else for a small moment of time. It was truly one of the best experiences and one of the things I remember most vividly. I remember being so nervous I was shaking walking up to him. I was kind of a nervous wreck all day but having him there really calmed me down." - Kimberly and Brett, Married August 2014

What are your thoughts about your experience with the first look?

"I loved doing a first look, it was great time to spend with my future husband before the big moment. It put me at ease and was a great break from the craziness of getting ready with the girls. (On walking down the aisle) It made me feel more confident, Ryan already knew what I looked like and just to hear him say I was beautiful before I walked down the aisle was comforting." -Ryan + Jen, Married August 2014