To First Look or Not to First Look

It has come to my attention recently, that for those of us in the Wedding Photography Industry, the term First Look is something we have talked about for years.  But, for newly engaged couples, this may be the first time you have heard about it.  So what is a First Look?

So let’s start with a definition of sorts…the First Look is when the Bride and Groom choose to see each other for the first time prior to the ceremony so that they may have a more private and intimate experience together which synonymously allows for more portrait time with their photographer earlier in the day and allows for less “photo-time” after the actual ceremony so that the Bride and Groom can arrive at the Reception earlier.

Pros and Cons of the First Look

Whew…sorry, I got a little long-winded there!  HAHA!

So, let’s break it down a little…

The First Look is Intimate

This time is shared between only the bride and groom in a secluded space where they can see each other for the first time (while being discreetly photographed from afar) and calm all the pre-wedding jitters.  It is very common for either the bride or groom to feel a bit of “stage-fright” at the thought of being in front of everyone on the wedding day.  Having this moment has eased many of those tensions when it truly is a concern!

This couple dodged rain throughout their entire wedding day, but the images we captured made up for it! This is one of my favorites!

The First Look Creates Time with Guests

By doing the First Look, the Bride and Groom can have their initial portrait time done during this part of the day and then include their entire bridal party into the pictures as well.  This allows for all formal portraits to be complete (excluding family unless you want those done as well) prior to the ceremony.

Many Brides and Grooms appreciate the ability to mingle with their guests during cocktail hour prior to the formal introductions at the Reception.  Its a great way to kick-off the party!

This couple had a Destination Wedding in Charleston, SC at The Historic Rice Mill and we were so excited to use Rainbow Row for the First Look and Portrait time. Doing these photos prior to the wedding allowed them to really enjoy their time with guests who had traveled to Charleston just for their wedding!

Should you choose to do a First Look on your Wedding Day? Read to find out more!

The First Look is not Traditional

Obviously, we see the value in doing the First Look.  Of all the pictures we take during the course of a wedding day, the portraits of the Bride & Groom that we capture during the First Look and during the Sunset Session are the only ones that will get printed and put on their walls.  It is just the way it is…we document every detail of the day, yet, when it is all finished, in the end, the wall pictures are the ones we build in only small little pieces of time for!

We have about 50% of our KCP brides choose to do a First Look.  We know that for some, the traditional aspect is very important and we are happy to honor that.  But, for the other brides and grooms who are just not sure what to decide, maybe this post will help!

The First Look is a great time to connect with each other prior to the rush of the day! Read to fin out the other benefits to the First Look on Your Wedding Day!

How the First Look Works

We pick a location that has great light and portrait potential that is also secluded from others who may be at the location.  We place the Groom in a location where he can not see his Bride coming, and then we bring her to the location to greet her man by tapping him on the shoulder, or maybe whispering something sweet in his ear…he then turns and sees his bride for the first time, all while we capture the magic from afar.  Once they have had time alone together, we can then begin a short time of portraits of just the two of them before we all join the bridal party for additional portraits with them!

So that’s it, I hope this helps you understand what a First Look is and how it can be beneficial on the wedding day!!  Feel free to leave a comment on which you prefer and on whether you had a First Look or not at your wedding and why!!


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Hey y'all!! I'm Kelli! It's so nice to have you here! I am a blessed Mama to 5 and the wife of the most handsome farmer around! I use this little corner of the world to share my latest Sessions and to offer encouragement and tips to Brides, Wives, and Mamas everywhere!


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"...We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10



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Kelli Duncan



Kelli C Photography