Wedding Day First Look

First look at wedding

Wedding day first look…should you have one?

When Mike and I were engaged, we struggled HARD with this question–should we or shouldn’t we have a first look? As wedding photographers, we thought we knew the sole benefit for having a first look: ample time for more photos. However, on our wedding day (nearly 5 years ago) we learned a lot about why having a first look is such an amazing option for couples and we’re excited to share our experience. And get this: we didn’t even have a first look!

What’s more, some of our wonderful couples were amazing enough to let us have a peek into their intimate wedding day first look and share their experiences with you. Here it goes, our 5 reasons you should consider a first look!

Wedding Day First Look Reason #1: Time Together

The night of our wedding was a blur, as most everyone will tell you. We got to our hotel room, collapsed on the bed, looked at each other and said, “Oh, HI!” You guys, we had just gotten married and hadn’t spent longer than 2 minutes at a time together. Keep in mind, none of that time was private or uninterrupted. Looking back, we wished we had done a first look for the sole purpose that we would have truly been able to spend time together as a couple before the wonderful chaos of our wedding day ensued.

As husband and wife wedding photographers, we so cherish this time for our couples and with our couples. We love setting you up to see each other for the first time in an intimate place, away from the hustle and bustle. We love the emotion and words you exchange when no one else is around. We love gifting you with this time and allowing you to just drink it all in.

“Our first look was amazing! We absolutely loved the intimate moment of being able to see each other for the first time without anyone else around. It allowed us to take in a moment together before the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day. We would absolutely do it again! We were so ready to see each other that day and don’t know if we could have waited any longer. It was such a magical moment and we would never change anything about it. No matter how many times Haydn’s dad joked that it was bad luck.”- Jake and Hayden Crouse

Wedding Day First Look Reason #2: Time for your loved ones

If you’re planning to have a bridal party (especially a larger one with more than 6 people), or have a larger family, one of the best gifts you can give them is a wedding day first look! A lot of your family and friends like to bring a date, husband, wife, kids, etc. to the wedding. To boot, your folks are going to have quite a few family members they’ll want to entertain and visit with. By having a first look earlier in the day, they’re free to go spend time with their loved ones and visit with guests after the ceremony.

Typically, what takes about 45-60 minutes to do after the ceremony (bridal party photos, family portraits, etc.) can sometimes be done in half that time when done before the ceremony. This is purely a numbers (and hunger) thing! When there are less guests and vendors earlier in the day needing your attention, there’s less distraction and more time to get your formal photos finished. And, when everyone isn’t hungry and running to get to the bar, your chances of having a more cooperative bunch of well fed and relaxed friends and family is much higher earlier in the day!

“Our first look was at one of our favorite spots in the Botanic Gardens, the moon gate. After the whirlwind of getting ready, we were excited to finally see each other and officially start the festivities. It was a very special moment because after over a year of planning, we were finally seeing each other on our wedding day and were about to be man and wife. When the first look moment finally came, Luke was speechless and Annie was radiant. It was everything we could have hoped it would be and set the stage for an incredible day and celebration.”-Luke and Annie Cerbin

Denver Botanic Gardens wedding Luke and Annie bride and groom portraits at moon gate

Wedding Day First Look Reason #3: Time to enjoy your vows

Before Mike and I were at the alter, we once again thought we knew what to expect. We thought it was just another formality we needed to do before the relaxing part of the day. Boy, were we SO WRONG! Coming down the aisle in and of itself is a surreal experience. There’s nothing that can take away from that moment, not even a first look. However, once we were at the alter together, we both froze. We stared at each other and blacked out a little bit (we have a tendency to do that at major events in our lives). Eventually we started talking over our officiant (sorry Mat!) because we genuinely wanted to calm each others nerves and know how the others day had been.

When it was all over, we turned to the crowd and realized that that was the first time we had looked at anyone else but each other. We were so glazed over from such an out of body experience at the altar that we weren’t able to be fully aware of what was happening in the crowd. Our couples who have had a first look have unanimously stated that they were actually able to enjoy the ceremony and their vows, and appreciate everyone in attendance. Since they already had time together, they were able to soak it all up.

“Our first look was incredible! I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around, and it was a surreal feeling as we spent that quiet moment together seeing each other for the first time right before our ceremony. It made all of my nerves go away and everything was perfect. He was so darn handsome too! We would definitely do it again!”- Jared and Elizabeth Zinanti 


Wedding Day First Look Reason #4: Time for drinks!

Cocktail hour, anyone? One of the things we hear most from couples is, “We really want to just relax and enjoy cocktail hour!” And we get it! Y’all have a lot of people to see on your wedding day, and we respect that. Anytime our couples tell us this is important to them, we talk them into having a first look. For obvious reasons, having your first look totally frees up your evening after the ceremony to do whatever you want. Care to grab a drink and hit up the photo booth? Go for it! Want to hang with me and Mike and go on a hike for some awesome photo opportunity? Absolutely! The evening is yours to spend however you like. Your guests will be giddy with excitement when they see you walking into cocktail hour to hang out with everyone and share in the festivities!

Bride and groom at Guyton Ranch wedding in Jefferson Colorado

“Our first look was the perfect way to kick off our wedding celebration with just the two of us. We would definitely do it again!”
Brian and Maggie Leslie

Wedding Day First Look Reason #5: Time for sunset and reflection

As we mentioned earlier, having a first look truly frees up the rest of your day after your ceremony. One of our favorite things to do is steal our couples throughout the evening for small increments to get different photos at different times of the day. When you don’t have a first look, you’re bound to having your portraits captured quickly and in a small amount of time immediately following the ceremony. There’s typically less of an opportunity to leave later on in the evening. However, it just so happens that the best lighting is usually during dinner. If you’ve already had a first look then leaving during cocktail hour and dinner for a few minutes isn’t a big deal or time sucker. And most importantly, you get time to look back at your wedding reception and once again, take it all in. Our couples who do a first look tell us that their second favorite part of the day was when we stole them at sunset to get a few photos with the perfect lighting and to give them a chance to regroup and see all of their family and friends having fun at their wedding.


Winding River Ranch Wedding of Mike and Melissa wedding bride and groom couple portraits

6 Comments to “ Wedding Day First Look”

  1. MELANIE GRADY says :

    Great resource for couples wondering what to do on their big day. So many great reasons to do a first look. Amazing photos too.

  2. Winnie says :

    First looks just make so much sense! They help create time on the wedding day, and help ease nerves. A lot of couples are worried it “won’t be the same” during the ceremony, but I find that it heightens the emotions even more!

  3. Olivia says :

    Firstly- these images ARE STUNNING. Love the Botanical Gardens ones! Secondly, what a lovely resource. It really can be difficult to decide on whether to do a first look or not, but this article is a huge help. This would be great even to send to brides when they book you as their Colorado wedding photographer.

  4. Kate Lynch says :

    You make a very convincing argument for having a first look. I think it makes total since to do this so the couple can really enjoy their wedding day and get to the party more quickly! Plus I’d think there would be less nerves for the bride walking down the aisle. 🙂

  5. Tyrenda says :

    Such great ideas as to why a first look is so important. I especially love the time with family and friends during cocktail hour. You gave some great pointers as to why a first look is good. I loved that Botanical Gardens shot by the way, just lovely.

  6. Kusum says :

    You make some great points here! I would think that First Look surely makes for more memorable moments with each other.