What is a First Look? Should we have a Groom’s First Look before our ceremony on our wedding day? San Diego Wedding and Engagement Photographer

What is a First Look and should we do it?

A first look is a moment planned by a wedding photographer for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.

Usually the bride and groom meet their wedding photographer away from family and friends to give them privacy and to make that moment just for them.

The main reason I recommend a First look is TIME.
Instead of rushing through family portraits, romantic portraits and wedding party all during cocktail hour, we’ll have lots of time before the ceremony….
Here’s what Bride Melissa has to say:
“We love the photos from our first look!
We were both really nervous about standing in front of everyone we know as neither of us like to be the center of attention.
We decided we wanted to do a first look to allow us to calm each others jitters and spend more of our wedding day together.”
“We were so happy with this choice – we got to have an intimate moment when we saw each other for the first time that day and hug and kiss each other right away (rather than having to wait until we were told),
hold hands on the ride over to our ceremony venue and talk about how our mornings had gone, and make decisions together for last minute changes when we arrived.”
“When it was time to walk down the aisle, my husband still had a big smile on his face; we were still eager to get married, and our moment wasn’t spoiled by having seen each other earlier.”
“On a logistics note, our ceremony was at 5pm and by choosing a first look, we also were able to do our formal portraits with our full wedding party before the ceremony without being super rushed for time;
this allowed us to do quick newlywed portraits, and wedding party and family photos after the ceremony,
but didn’t keep our guests hungry and waiting for dinner to begin.
I highly recommend a first look if either of you are the nervous type or if you are having a late ceremony and don’t want to start dinner too late.”


 Here are more personal insights from two more of my amazing brides:
(Her First Look is pictured below) 
And then keep reading for Crisy, Bride #3
Ashley says….

“The first look was my favorite part of the whole day!    
Kyle and I got a moment to ourselves to take in our special day and to see each other. 
It was emotional and very important for us to just get a minute to enjoy each other 
before all the craziness of the day started.
 The photos are some of my favorite from the day. I loved having a lot of the photos out of the way before the ceremony because we got to spend more time with our guests.
Did having a First Look lessen the emotion when you walked down the aisle?
“No, I loved having the emotional moment shared between us first. It made it special because we didn’t have to share that with anyone else. We got to say what we were thinking and just take our time to take each other in. 
I was still just as excited to walk down the aisle and it took the edge off because we had seen each other. I almost feel like it made me less nervous because I already knew he thought I looked gorgeous and got his emotional response one on one.  
He cried during the first look and while I walked down the aisle and 
I had only seen him cry two other times in 5 years. 
I was so happy we did a first look.”
Ashley, Bride


BRIDE #2  Crisy:
“My experience for the first look on our wedding day was perfection. Having your soon to be husband seeing you in a private setting looking amazing you can’t help but 
be overwhelmed by emotion.  
  I had butterflies in my stomach all day thinking about seeing him.   
So many thoughts were running through my head…..”  
When I saw my husband standing there with his back to me for the First Look —
unaware I was behind him, I literally wanted to scream with excitement. 
I walked up behind him and put my hands over his eyes.  
He turned around and the moment I saw his face, I couldn’t help but tear up with emotion. 
He teared as well, said “you look so so beautiful”.  
That made me lose it…I was so glad
it was just the two of us there…. 

I pulled him close and began kissing him. With every passing second of being there with him, just the two of us,
the butterflies flew away and I just felt so comfortable with him, I then just wanted the ceremony over and be his wife already. 
After that first look I told my husband, “okay, I am ready to be your wife now”. 
Crisy, did having a First Look lessen the emotion when you walked down the aisle?

Crisy:  “I definitely think doing the first look relaxed us both before the ceremony, but we both still felt a lot of emotion during the ceremony, mainly realizing

“Holy cheese balls we are getting married.. this is it!!!”  The only thing the First look took away was the tension.
  It was a different emotion for the ceremony, because you then realize this is it….
… my life changes now.  We are so glad we did a First Look.
And can I mention that we attended cocktail hour with our guests
 AND have wonderful romantic portraits?  
Because we did them before the ceremony.”


Here’s a little mini-video of Melissa’s wedding day First Look followed by romantic portraits at Balboa Park
Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
A: The first look was the moment we were both looking forward to the most.
A quote from a wedding videographer:
The First Look:
1) It’s a special, intimate moment for the bride and groom.
Yes, the moment the bride walks down the aisle is a big, grand, emotional moment as well… but one thing it lacks is intimacy. . You walk down the aisle… your father gives you away… you stand there facing your husband-to-be… and you have to wait the entire service to really get to talk with one another. You can’t hug. You can’t kiss. For some this may be no big deal, and that’s fine.  And for those who worry it will take away from the moment the bride walks down the aisle, I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t. In fact, some of our most emotional “groom reactions” are from weddings where the couple did a first look. I’m not positive, but I assume this is because he’s already had a chance to see how you look… to asses the dress… and now it’s just “this is it, it’s really happening.” He sees you walking to him and instead of taking in how you look, he is staring into your eyes, taking in the moment. We’ve had many emotional grooms, both with couples who did a first look and those who didn’t… it really comes down to what you are like as people. But don’t fear that seeing each other before your ceremony will make the “big moment” during the ceremony any less special.
2) It is planned, but not staged.
There is a difference between the two. Of course the first look is “planned” (as is the ENTIRE WEDDING!!!)… we want to make sure that a) the groom doesn’t see the bride before he is supposed to, and b) we are able to capture the special moment and not miss anything while being as unobtrusive as possible. .
3) You will most likely get better photos and a better wedding film.
The hour following the ceremony is often the most crazy for photography. We are trying to capture Family Portraits, Wedding Party Portraits, get to the reception space, shoot decor before people enter the room, and shoot cocktail hour before it ends. So of course time is tight when getting Romantic shots of the couple.  Still don’t want to see your honey before your ceremony? 
That’s fine! It’s your day!  
Pen Weddings Videographer

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