Wedding Planning

Should You Have a First-Look on Your Wedding Day?

February 20, 2019


I’m a huge fan of traditions. Always have been. But, as a wedding photographer (and a bride) myself, I’ve jumped on the first-look train and I’ll never go back.

I know many couples think having a first-look takes the ‘wow factor’ away from the ceremony, but trust me, it doesn’t. Every single groom that I have worked with who had a first-look still cried, smiled, and felt all of his emotions as his bride made her way down the aisle. It’s still very much emotional and beautiful.

There are SO many benefits to a first-look on your wedding day. I could go on and on and on! Here are a few of my top reasons why having a first-look could make your wedding day EVEN better.

Calming Those Wedding Day Nerves!

In my experience, most grooms are not necessarily comfortable with the thought of losing control over their emotions in front of others. Especially when all eyes are on them. And this is totally understandable! Most guests (I mean every single guest) will be watching him as the bride makes her appearance- anxiously awaiting his teary reaction. Don’t get me wrong- nothing beats a groom losing it over his gorgeous bride- but sometimes all this attention can backfire, leaving the groom very uncomfortable and fighting to keep his emotions at bay. This will most likely result in the groom having little to no reaction at all because he’s so aware of himself. Not good.

Having a first look gives you and your partner the freedom to just be yourselves. You can react however feels natural and there is nobody there to judge you or put extra pressure on you. It’s a special time for you to have a quiet moment before the chaos begins. Your groom can actually tell you how beautiful you look in that very moment, as he’s experiencing it. He can step back and stare and remind himself that YOU are his bride. You can exchange compliments, you can cry, you can stand there in total silence, just enjoying the sight of one another. You get to ENJOY the moment. And once you’re ready for portrait time, you get to carry all of that emotion right into your photos. As a photographer, this is the BEST part. I have the opportunity to capture all of the feels that you both are experiencing in that very moment.

You’ll Have Two Chances for Portraits! (YESSSS!)

I absolutely wish my husband and I had planned a first look on our wedding day. But, I knew nothing about weddings at that time and nobody educated me, so I went along with what my photographer suggested.
Unfortunately, my photographers were over two hours late so I guess even if I had planned a first look, it wasn’t gonna happen!
Once our ceremony was over, it was time for bridal party photos, family photos and our newlywed portraits.
This part of the day was a blur. Everything was rushed to the max and our portraits suffered. I remember feeling uncomfortable in that moment- knowing the poses they were putting us in were generic and not flattering. They didn’t take the time to breathe, take a step back, and actually give us quality imagery. They were using a mental checklist that I’m certain they used at every wedding, which left our wedding day feeling like more of a transaction than an actual special event.

This was our only time for portraits and while I love my wedding day photos because they’re a constant reminder of the BEST day, I still wish I had been given more options and more time.

When you make room in your timeline for a first look, you’re ensuring plenty of portrait time. Not only will you have your first-look portrait time but you’ll have portrait time right after your ceremony, too! This is especially wonderful if there is inclement weather on your wedding day. Knowing you have more than one chance for portraits can eliminate a ton of stress and worry!
Planning a first-look means you’re putting portraits as a priority, and you’re ensuring that you and your partner will have a TON of beautiful portraits to put in your album, hang on your walls, and give to grandma. After all, why spend all that money on your gown, your hair, your makeup, your shoes, if you don’t intend on having many photos of it all? Your wedding day will be one of the only days you’ll ever get this fancy- so I’d say you deserve to have countless portraits from your special day.

You Actually Get to Enjoy Your Cocktail Hour & Reception!

The idea of being able to actually say “Hello!” to all of your guests might not seem like a huge feat while you’re planning your wedding, but trust me- it’s more difficult to achieve than you’d think. Allowing a first-look helps you get more face-time during cocktail hour with the people who have traveled far and wide to see you! It’s the perfect chance to chat it up with everyone, so later on during your reception, you can dance the night away knowing you’ve hugged and greeted everyone and you actually have time to enjoy all of your HARD work!

You went to all of those tastings and specifically chose your appetizers- don’t you want the chance to EAT them?

Most of the Formal Portraits Can Be Done Before the Ceremony, Leaving the Dreamy Evening Light for MORE Portraits!

Once you and your love have enjoyed your quiet moment together and you’ve had the chance to get your portraits finished, you can choose to get your bridal party portraits done, too! Your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be fresh-faced and ready to go. Nobody has had to sweat through their tux (or dress!) so everyone is still all smiles.
If you’re REALLY organized, next comes the family portraits. The same goes for these too; your family will most likely be in a really good mood and super happy to get their hands on you. So of course they’ll be up for photos. They’ll know this means right after the vows have been said, they’ll be able to get their hands on a cold drink and a yummy snack. I know that would make me happy.

Because you were so organized and got all of the ‘must-haves’ done earlier in the day, this means that you can totally take advantage of that dreamy evening light! The BEST light. You’ll now have the chance to head out with your SPOUSE and take the beautiful, romantic images you have always dreamed of. And the best part is, you won’t feel rushed because you won’t be rushed. Everything is done. All that’s left is for you to enjoy cocktail hour with your guests and then move into dinner and dancing, and ENJOYING the fruits of your year-long labor.

Ok, we’ve covered the biggest reasons to have a first-look. Trust me, there are a lot more, but I’ll leave those for another blog post.

If you and your fiancé choose to skip your first look, that is totally fine. I have never and will never force my brides and grooms to have one. Your wedding day is YOURS and you should keep it just the way you want it.

My goal in writing this post is to educate couples who are planning their day and need some guidance.
I want your day to go smoothly and I want to make sure you get plenty of portraits on your special day because your DESERVE them!

xo, Stacy

Stacy Story Photography – Colorado Wedding and Elopement Photographer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



When my husband, Jeff, and I were planning our wedding, we hired a photographer whose work was beautiful. Fast forward a few months, she ghosted us. Took our money and vanished. Two months before our wedding, I'm panicking, trying to find another photographer who was available on our very popular date- 10/10/10, and whose work didn't completely suck. I was laughed at over the phone by one photographer, whose name I will withhold but will FOREVER remember. He obviously thought my desperation was amusing, but I couldn't see the humor through my enormous tears. 

After having already spent our entire photography budget, I was forced to hire the only person who was left available, and for fairly cheap. He definitely over-promised + under-delivered. It was a sad experience, one I never want you to have to go through, which is why I am so passionate about ensuring my couples have the MOST amazing wedding photography experience humanly possible, with me.

If you are looking for a photographer who values YOU and your entire wedding photography experience, I'm your girl.
I will be by your side, making sure you feel totally comfy + content while you're in front of my lens. I promise your wedding day photos will be timeless, beautiful, and everything you've dreamed of.

I honestly can't wait to meet you, so get in touch and let's do this! 

If you have found your way to me, it's probably because you've been searching for the right photographer, but none of the others have felt like 'the one'. I get it. I've been there, done that. 


the latest

on the blog

mark + amber

matt & morgan

tyler & gracyn

dalton & veronica

fountain of youth

bluemont, virginia

st. augustine engagement

st. augustine white room


The portrait Shoot Style guide



© Stacy Story Photo 2023

Design by Tonic