A bride and a groom during their first look wedding

What is a first look at a wedding?

A first look at a wedding is a private moment between both the bride and the groom before the ceremony or family formals on the wedding day. As an Orlando wedding photographer my favorite couples pictures and genuine candid moments typically come from this part of the day.

Keep reading to see the reasons to have a first look, where to have your first look and what some first look alternatives are.

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Why should you have a first look at your wedding?

a first look is a rare private moment on a wedding day

Your wedding day is going to be filled with people you love, and thats a great thing. It just means that private moments become so rare that when they happen, they are imprinted in your memory. You don’t get many of these moments, and a first look is a great way to get one at your wedding.

It’s easier to get real emotion

Waiting for a traditional aisle first look actually doesn’t guarantee more emotion the first time your partner sees you. Actually by having a first look, your partner won’t feel the pressure of everyone watching and is more likely to open up. Tears at the aisle is not always a sure thing!

More photographs together

Having time in your wedding timeline for photos before the ceremony with a first look and again after your ceremony during sunset can create almost 40% more photographs of you with your partner. Weddings are unpredictable and delays can happen, it would be disappointing to look back and wish you had more photos together from your wedding years from now.

It may be the only time you get for portraits together.

Wedding timelines are more like structured guidelines. Things go off track and sometimes everything has to be pushed later at the cost of not having portraits at sunset. It’s better to have those photographs earlier than later as just in case.

You’ll have more time to hang with your guests at reception.

A first look will save time later when the cocktail hour takes place. With all of your photos done, you can do something couples rarely get to do: actually, enjoy the cocktail hour with the guests they invited.

intimate moment at a first look wedding

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How long do first look photos take?

A first look takes about 20 minutes at minimum, but I recommend 30 minutes to have a little more time for yourselves with portraits after.

Where should you have your first look photos taken?

An intimate or private space is best for a first look. The location could be an empty hotel lobby, a bridal suite or a nearby park. Your photographer will likely help you choose a location but the priority will always be that you both feel comfortable not holding back in the area you chose for your first look.

Groom grins at his first look at his new bride.
One of my favorite first look photographs I have ever taken.

When should you have your first look?

I recommend couples do the first look earlier in the day right after they get ready, well before the ceremony. This allows enough time to get touched up again before the ceremony and creates time for family photos just before the ceremony as well.

A first look alternative with the father of the bride.

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Great wedding first look alternatives

Do a first look with your parents or important family and friends.

You don’t have to do a first look with your partner, but you should definitely do one with your most important family member. A first look with your father or mother is almost guaranteed to give you moments with them you’ll remember forever.

First Touch

No, it’s not the first touch after reception. This is a moment that happens when your getting ready, usually with a door or wall corner in between you while you hold hands and talk without looking at each other.

Gift exchange

Before you get in your wedding day attire, you can meet in the morning and exchange meaningful gifts to each other. I recommend adding a cologne or perfume to the gifts that are new, so you connect that smell to your wedding day even years later.

Wedding party first look

This is during the beginning of the day right after you’ve gotten into your wedding attire. Your bridal party waits in another room, you walk in and see the reactions to your full wedding look. I love including this even when there is already a traditional first look.

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