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  • Writer's pictureCraig Peterman

First Look: Pros and Cons from a Photographer’s Perspective

Updated: May 23

The "first look" photo session, where couples see each other before the wedding ceremony in a private moment, has become a popular trend among modern weddings. This intimate reveal not only serves as a heartfelt prelude to the formalities but also offers unique photographic opportunities. As a professional photographer specializing in wedding photography and videography, I have captured numerous first looks and have observed both the emotional impacts and the photographic advantages. Here, I’ll share some insights to help you decide if a first look session is right for your big day, along with tips for making it as memorable and intimate as possible.

Pros of the First Look

1. Eases Nerves: Many couples find that having a first look helps dissipate some of the day’s tension. Seeing each other before the ceremony can calm nerves, allowing you both to be more present during the ceremony and truly enjoy the moment.

2. Extends the Day: Traditionally, couples wait to see each other at the altar, which compresses the photo session into the cocktail hour. A first look expands your timeline, providing more time for relaxed and unrushed photos.

3. Enhances Emotional Intimacy: The first look is often a private moment between the couple, away from the eyes of guests. This privacy can lead to genuinely tender and moving images that capture raw, unguarded emotions.

4. Better Light Quality: Planning a first look earlier in the day can take advantage of natural light, which is ideal for vibrant, airy photographs. This is especially beneficial for evening ceremonies when daylight might be scarce.

Cons of the First Look

1. Breaks Tradition: For couples who cherish the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, a first look might not feel right. The anticipation of seeing each other at the altar is a moment many do not want to forgo.

2. Requires Earlier Preparation: A first look means you both need to be ready earlier in the day, which could make for a longer day and potentially earlier start times for hair, makeup, and getting dressed.

3. Emotional Overwhelm: While the privacy of a first look can be intimate, it can also be intensely emotional. Some couples might prefer to share these first-reaction emotions surrounded by family and friends.

Planning Your First Look

If you decide a first look is right for you, consider these tips to make it a touching and picture-perfect moment:

1. Choose a Secluded Spot: Pick a location away from the hustle and bustle of early wedding preparations. A quiet spot not only enhances intimacy but also controls the background for clean, uncluttered photographs.

2. Discuss Expectations with Your Photographer: Talk about what you envision for your first look with your photographer. They can help plan the logistics and timing, ensuring that the lighting and setting are just right.

3. Allow Enough Time: Make sure to allocate sufficient time for the first look in your wedding day schedule. You don’t want to feel rushed—allow yourselves to enjoy the moment fully.

4. Capture the Reaction: Videography can also be incredibly effective during a first look. Having a video to complement the photos can capture the reactions and emotions of both partners in real time, providing a dynamic recount of the moment.


A first look isn’t for everyone, but for those who choose it, it offers a beautiful, serene start to a day full of celebrations. It allows couples to create a quiet space to connect and set the tone for their wedding day. As a photographer, capturing these first look moments is always a privilege, as they tend to reveal the profound love and joy couples share. Whether or not you opt for a first look, the key is to make choices that feel true to your relationship, ensuring your wedding day is as joyful and memorable as possible.

In my personal opinon, you should do it. First looks bring out those emotions and help with stree beofre the ceremony. Simply put: I have never had one couple...ever...that said they regretted doing a first look.


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