What is a First Look? SnapKnot Photographers Break it Down

As we enter into this new era of weddings, there are more and more trends that couples must consider when planning their union. We’ve already taken a look at the somewhat typical engagement photo shoot, and traveled to the other end of the spectrum with our bridal boudoir series.

Today we thought we would look at another type of shoot that, in essence, breaks tradition, but is becoming more and more popular in the bridal world: “First Looks”. Exactly what is a first look, and what is the big debate?

Our community of photographers encourages couples to take any direction they choose when planning a wedding but offered their insight as to exactly what this type of session is and how special it has the potential to be.

1. What is a First Look?

A first look is a pre-ceremony, intimate moment, where the bride and groom get to see each other for the first time. Some couples may opt to have this moment captured privately, while others might want their close friends and family to bear witness. Either way, there are a lot of options to consider when deciding whether or not to have one.

“A first look is an opportunity to take some time out of a busy day for the bride and groom to share an intimate and emotional moment together. It should be set up in a way that does not feel cheesy or contrived to the couple, and also gives them the space (emotional and physical) to enjoy seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day.” – Atelier Pictures

“It is such a precious time to have alone to actually talk before the guests begin arriving and the craziness of the day begins. It also allows us much more time to get many more pictures of just the two of you together. These images are the ones that you will treasure forever.” – Erika Brown Photography

bride and groom staring at each other on stairs
groom kissing bride's hand
bride and groom kissing on stairs

2. So… it breaks tradition.

Yes. But here are a few notes from our photographers regarding this detail:

“Historically, a groom did not see his bride before their wedding ceremony for one simple reason. He had never met her! The idea was not to let him see behind the veil until the deal was sealed. And, really, who wants to maintain that tradition, right? We joke about this with our clients. But we understand why about 20 percent of our couples still prefer to wait till the ceremony. Hey, so did we. But the benefits of a first look are many.” – Blume Photography

“The tradition to wait until you are both at the altar to see each other for the first time on your wedding day stems from the tradition of arranged marriages. Now, if your marriage has been arranged, by all means, you haven’t even seen your bride-to-be ever, and we wouldn’t want you to be able to back out of “the deal”. Other than that, we assume you’ve seen each other before, so you’ll be upholding only part of that tradition anyway. Why would you let this tradition have that large of an impact on your wedding day?” – Tim of 8twenty8 Studios

first look photo of groom to bride
bride holding hands while not seeing each other
nose to nose shot of happy bride and groom

3. Why would one want to have a first look?

It calms nerves, allows the couple to speak freely without an audience, and offers a more relaxed wedding timeline. (We plan to explore more of the pros and cons of first looks in our next post: “Why do a First Look?”)

“A first look can help the logistics of a wedding day. If portraits of all the important people (bridal party, family, etc.) are finished before the ceremony, it allows for the bride and groom to move directly from the ceremony to the reception or cocktail hour. This can remove the possibility of feeling torn away from guests after the ceremony and feeling rushed with the portraits.” – Atelier Pictures

“In our observation, it takes nothing away from the meaningfulness of a groom seeing his bride walk down the aisle. If anything, it heightens the emotions of the couple and makes the ceremony even more special. Of course, from our perspective, it also provides loads of awesome imagery potential.” – Blume Photography

happy couple first look photo in vineyard

As we mentioned, we plan to go much more into detail regarding the benefits of having a first look session. This was just a bit of a background as to what a first look is and why many couples are breaking tradition to have one. Stay tuned for much more at SnapKnot!

Can’t wait until then? Check out these “First Look” boards on Pinterest!

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