Your wedding day approaches and the to-do list is getting shorter. You’re looking at your timeline and you’re wondering: should we do a “first look”?

If your mind goes blank, don’t worry – a first look isn’t completely embedded into wedding ceremony tradition and that’s the perfect reason why it’s important to find out if it fits into your wedding story.

A first look is the private moment shared by the bride and groom or the couple on the day of your wedding, before the ceremony. Rather than following the superstition that it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, a first look shoot blends sentiment with practicality by dedicating a separate experience entirely focused on that first time you see each other – gown and all. If you’re curious about the whole idea, read on to discover if a first look is, or isn’t, for you!

Purple Orchid Wedding First Look by William Trang Photography


1. …because it represents exactly why you’re getting married! After spending the morning of your special day getting ready, dressed and filled with anticipation, begin the journey with a quiet aside for just you and your other half. Reality: weddings are non-stop. From start to finish, it’s a day of incredible significance, energy, and of course, love – by the end, you might be thankful you had that time to take a deep breath and slow down.

The first moment you see each other will be overwhelming and wonderful, no matter where you are; but making the choice to begin the day with this reminds you both that the planning was all worth it, and the day is ultimately for you. It’s the perfect, quiet introduction into a social, spirited day.

2. Wedding jitters are hardly uncommon. If you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed and wish you could take comfort in your partner, a first look provides that. You can share the pre-wedding emotions and truly understand that you’re in this together. It can be a daunting prospect. Traditionally, the first time a bride/groom sees their soon-husband/wife or vice-versa, they do so in front of the entire wedding party; all of the guests are witness to a very, very special moment. If so public a scene scares you a little, it’s definitely worth considering a first look.

3. You’ve finished getting ready and are looking fantastic; it’s the perfect photo moment!
One of the greatest benefits of a first look is the reassurance that you have already secured some beautiful images and portraits. Not only will that once-only experience be captured by your photographer, but so will all of the effort put into looking your absolute best. Weddings are made up of so many details that you can or can’t control and doing a first look tips the odds in your favor. It circumvents the risks of time running out or sudden rain during the hour allotted to portraits. Plus, if you get emotional, you can touch up your makeup before the ceremony!

4. In a practical sense, you’re potentially allowing yourself time later in the day for nothing but pure enjoyment. Instead of cutting into your cocktail hour, secure time at the start of the day to have a first look shoot. You can even incorporate the whole bridal party in this pre-ceremony event, ensuring you have memorable shots rather than trying to squeeze them in later in the day. Instead, be present in the experiences of your wedding day and be there with the people you love.

5. Of course, it might be more appealing to know you can get as many photos as possible! With everything else that goes into planning a wedding, it’s easy to overlook the fact that what you’re left with weeks, months and years on are the beautiful images that captured it. Having a first look means a new scenario in which to get some incredible photos; it can provide a different setting, mood, lighting – even weather. It could be the optimal opportunity to take some of your favorite photos from the day.

And one fine point, a first look can be done with the parents as well. For example, a first look for the father has very sentimental value.

The Old Homestead Wedding by William Trang Photography The Old Homestead First Look by William Trang Photography


Even if these points have fired your imagination, no decision about your wedding should be made lightly; it’s also important to consider why a first look might not be the right option for you.

If you’ve long dreamt of that moment when you and your partner first see each other, inside your wedding venue or while walking down the aisle, then a separate shoot might not be right. Perhaps it’s really important to your mother or father to share in this emotional experience; you may cherish the thought of them and your loved ones looking on. This is something to consider – although you shouldn’t let this override what you, personally, long for.

While having a pre-ceremony shoot potentially saves time later, it probably requires you to be ready much earlier; so, it can lengthen the day. Some couples may have too many events (e.g. cultural events, transportation between venues, etc.) between getting ready and the ceremony to fit in a first look.

So, what will it be? Above all, remember that the first time you see each other is unrepeatable. Having a dedicated shoot means that, more than anything, this singular experience will be free from distractions. Your photographer’s sole focus will be to capture the beauty of that moment!

Ruby Hill Pleasanton First Look by William Trang Photography