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  • Writer's pictureSTP Weddings

Is a First Look for You?

We often get asked what a first look is and if it makes sense to do one. A first look is where the couple chooses to see each other prior to the ceremony. While this breaks tradition, we typically see if done more often than not now. Today we dive into the details of a first look to help you decide if it is something you should consider or not. Every couple is different, so it is a very personal decision that you should make with your partner. [Photo by Idalia Photography]

Are you having a church or on-site ceremony?

Church Ceremony

Church ceremonies tend to be earlier in the day, which means an earlier hair and makeup start time for your bridal party. If this is the case, it might be easier a first look for a few reasons. You don’t want to have to rush your first look or ask your wedding party to start hair and makeup super early. Also, you will likely have a good amount of time between your ceremony and reception start for photos. Talk to your photographer and see if they think there is enough time in between church and the cocktail hour. If it might be rushed or if you have a small wedding party and can avoid an early start, then go for a first look.

On-Site Ceremony

For on-site ceremonies we often recommend doing a first look primarily so that couples don’t miss out on their cocktail hour. Your photographer will need some time with you for couple photos, which is typically done right after the ceremony. If that is the case, the couple tends to miss the first half or most of their cocktail hour. If you do a first look, you can get those photos done in advance and enjoy mingling with guests and the delicious cocktail hour food!

Are you trying to keep with tradition?


One thing we often hear couples say is that they want to stick with tradition and not see their partner until the ceremony. We totally understand that and think it’s very romantic!

If you don’t mind ditching tradition

There are lots of traditions you can stick with, but if you are ok ditching this one, you should consider a first look. Your first look can be a private moment with just you and your partner or you can invite the wedding party and/or family to watch the moment. Your photographer can capture the moment (or not if you’d prefer!) in a pre-determined location. Typically the groom stands in one place while the bride approaches from the back and taps him when it’s time to turn around. Such a fun new tradition!

What does your photographer recommend?

Based on how your day is coming together time wise, we always recommend consulting your photographer to get their opinion. They are the ones who can give you the most insight into how long the photo process will take. We spoke to one of our favorites , Alex Peterson, Owner of Idalia Photographery, to get her opinion about first looks.

"My absolute favorite thing about first looks is that couples get to spend more time together on their wedding day. They see each other earlier and get to focus on one another well before it's time to turn their attention to their families and guests. Wedding days go by in the blink of an eye, so having that extra time together during the first look is, in my opinion, the greatest wedding gift. An added bonus is that couples who do a first look will get more portraits than couples who squeeze all their photos in during cocktail hour. They won't be rushed and will have time to include multiple locations during their portrait session, which will lead to beautiful and varied portraits to remember their day by. It's truly a win-win!"

Did you know, first looks aren’t just for the couple?!

We love seeing brides do first looks with their fathers and/or wedding party. Grooms can even do first looks with their mothers. There are a lot of fun ways to do a first look with all of these people who are special to you, just make sure you speak to your wedding planner and photographer in advance about these requests to make sure there is plenty of time for all of them!


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