Photo Friendly Wedding Tips - The First Look

3 Tips For Pulling Off A Beautiful First Look

This is the third part to our Photo Friendly Wedding Tips! In the last part of this series we talked about Getting Ready, and how to prepare for the part of the day that sets the tone for the whole wedding. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. 

Also, don't forget to download the Free First Look Cheat Sheet below! We'll be including a topic specific cheat sheet with the main points of this section, so make sure you're subscribed by joining the pack at the top and bottom of this post :)


What's Up With This Tradition Anyway?

Before we dig into the nitty gritty of what a first look is, and why we do one, let's take a quick look back in time at WHY there's a tradition of the couple not seeing each other until the ceremony.

(Excerpt from Bridal Guide.) During the time when arranged marriages were custom, the betrothed couple wasn’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all. The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families (romantic, huh?), and a father would have been pleased for his daughter to marry a man from a rich, land-owning family. But he also feared that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and thought she wasn’t attractive, he’d call off the wedding, casting shame onto the bride and her family. Therefore, it became tradition that the bride and groom were only allowed to meet at the wedding ceremony so that the groom did not have the opportunity to change his mind. And that veil the bride wears? Its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out what the bride looked like until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out of the transaction.


What's A First Look, And Why Should I Do One?

 A first look is simply a reveal of the soon-to-be married couple before the ceremony. It's typically a private moment that is documented by your photographer and videographer. The first look can be done any number of different ways, and can be as private or public as you wish. The decision to do a first look or not is one of the more important decisions to make early while planning your wedding! The timeline of your day will depend on whether you want to do a first look or not. So it's important to talk and understand whether your partner and you want to do one or not.


  • Privacy
  • Control
  • More time and daylight for portraits
  • You won't miss cocktail hour


  • Not traditional
  • Might upset a family member
  • Might feel as less important
  • Dress might not be as impeccable for ceremony

You can make this brief moment of your day as personal and quirky, or as formal as you would like. You can do it front of all of your friends and family, or you can do it privately! It's truly up to you! But you might be looking for some guidance or recommendations to pull one off successfully. That's why you're here right?

Let's dig in!



This is a time that should feel comfortable, and effortless. Discuss with your partner, and your photographer the style that you prefer. But try to allow some spontaneity to keep the moment natural. Some of these styles might be location, light, and weather dependant, so discuss your favorite styles with your photographer and have a back-up option for him or her to lean on if the conditions aren't perfect.

Here are a few common styles of looks to consider:

First Look Cheat Sheet


A Guide To Pulling Off A Beautiful First Look

Click the download button below to download the cheat sheet.

1) The Tap On The Shoulder

A simple tap on the shoulder from behind can be a perfect cue for your fiance to turn around and "Check. You. Out." You can also go rogue and cover his or her eyes, or give them a big squeeze from behind. All of which is a cue for your partner to turn around and take you all in.

3) Walk down a set of stairs, corridor. or hallway

We love this, because it replicates the walk down the aisle, except more private.

3) Open Up A Door or Turn A Corner

Sometimes the tried and true "tap on shoulder, and turn around" style can seem unnatural to you. If so, think about having your fiance stand outside a building, and you simply walking out and meeting. Or maybe turning a corner on a busy city sidewalk to reveal each other. This is great for the "no pressure, let's get the show on the road" type of couple. 

4) The "Hey You!"

The "Hey You" is what we call a first look much like the "Tap On The Shoulder" except before you reach your partner, you say "Hey You" or "Hey Babe" or whatever you would like, as a cue for them to turn around.

Either way you decide to do your first look, discuss this with your partner and photographer so that you all will be on the same page.  

#2 Times & Location

The timing of your first look is typically right after you two are finished getting ready. You're groomed, and looking spot on! Now's the time to see each other and take on one of the biggest days of your lives, together! When you're putting together the wedding timeline be sure to include the first look. Typically right after a first look you and your photographer roll right into portraits, so plan those immediately after the first look so that you can enjoy the rest of your big day with friends and family!

If you have a specific location in mind for your first look discuss this with your photographer, but leave the final decision up to them. They should be able to  know where the best light is. A location that might seem to have good light, might not once your fiance turns around and is met with a blast of direct sunlight or random shadow on the face. A good photographer should be able to anticipate any changes with the light or movement between the couple and adjust. 

#1 Take It All In

We can't stress enough that we want you to remember this moment.

1) Make It Comfortable

You know yourself and your fiance better than anyone... You might want your family to watch the first look but your partner might prefer the moment to be private. Discuss what's best for both, as being comfortable is the best way to make your first look memorable.

2) Use Your Senses

Being present in the moment and using your senses is the best way to help you remember moments in your life. The day goes by quick! We want you to remember it!

To qoute Moment by Moment: The Art and Practice of Mindfulness:

"Life is an accumulation of the sensory experiences that we have moment by moment. Our ability to become aware of our senses is one of the most basic ways to experience life fully."

So right before the first look happens be sure to be present, listen to the sounds and smell the air around you!