Because I want my clients to be as relaxed and stress-free as possible, I’m posting a series of guides to feeling stress-free on your wedding day. In Part One, I shared tips on how to create stress-free images starting with the getting ready process. In Part Two, I’d like to talk about the first look; a tradition that gives you and your love a chance to see each other in a private, intimate setting before the ceremony. 

Your Bridal Guide to Stress Free Weddings: The First Look

To do or not to do a first look: that is the big question! Many photographers will push for the first look, but while I tend to prefer them, I will NEVER persuade you otherwise if you feel strongly about seeing your fiancé for the first time walking down the aisle. But before you make that decision, you might want to consider the following:

First Looks Take the Pressure Off

There are always a lot of nerves going into your ceremony. I believe much of that is the anticipation of seeing your soon-to-be spouse for the first time. But if you have a chance to see them for the first time in a quiet, intimate setting before the ceremony, chances are you’ll be MUCH more relaxed when the actual “I do” happens!

You’ll Have Better Photos

While I do love the groom reaction shots while a bride walks down the aisle, those are far less intimate than a first look. It’s not the same; we aren’t able to capture the emotion as well as if you’d taken time aside just the two of you. Not to mention it’s much harder to share that moment to yourselves when dozens of people are watching you!

It Frees Up Your Timeline

Usually after a first look, we’ll do family photos prior to the ceremony as well. This means you won’t have to spend time doing these photos after all the excitement of the ceremony and can instead bask in the joy of being married with family and friends during cocktail hour and the reception! We’ll still grab you for sunset portraits at some point depending on when your ceremony is, but more time at the reception is a win for everyone!

My Experience

I was a bride once too, and I remember making this decision. At first, there was a deep desire to wait, to have the breathless moment when I walk down the aisle toward him. But in the end, we decided to do the first look—and I’m SO glad we did! It was set up beautifully and privately. I was a lucky girl and got to walk down an epic spiral staircase—and my husband cried. I cried. It was one of the most beautiful and love-filled moments I have ever experienced and took the pressure off the rest of the day.

And what was even more amazing was that when I walked down the aisle toward my future husband, who I had already seen, he cried again. And I cried again. There is a special magic in that moment of walking down the aisle that is irreplaceable no matter what you decide to do. It will be a moment you’ll always remember.

I HIGHLY recommend keeping first looks completely private—between just you and your fiancé. That means Mom and Dad aren’t coming along and bridesmaids aren’t hiding behind a bush somewhere taking photos on their phones. That moment can be so beautiful, and you’ll want to share it in private.

I’d also recommend planning about 15 to 20 minutes for your first look so that we don’t feel rushed and so you can have that emotional moment in full.