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Why You Should Consider Having a First Look with Your Future Spouse

I could talk about first looks ALL day long!! They’re one of my favorite parts of a wedding day and I absolutely love photographing them. However, SO many people are unaware of how amazing they are because they’re too worried about them being untraditional. After doing this for so many years and being at so many weddings (including my own!), I’ve realized that one of the biggest reasons brides choose not to do them is because they want a reaction from their groom! One of the biggest reasons that I’ve been given for why couples don’t want to do a first look is because they think that if they see each other before the ceremony, they’ll lose the reaction they’re expecting, and they assume that it won’t be as emotional or special as it would be if they were walking down the aisle.

First look between bride and groom on town docks at Church Landing

The ONE thing that I KNEW that we had to do on our wedding day was a first look. Not only did we get married in the middle of winter so we needed it for timing purposes but I also knew that my husband was going to be a nervous wreck and I wanted to help put him at ease. However – *I* was the nervous one leading up to our first look! All I wanted to be able to do was see and talk to my husband before the day got away from us. I’m SO thankful that we did one – we were able to hang out together, have an actual conversation, get our photos taken, and there was no rush! Our wedding day was an actual blur, but I will always vividly remember our first look, and how excited it made us for our ceremony!

Here’s the thing. Wedding days are JUST a little bit stressful for the bride and groom – the whole day is about them, they have to look their best, be on time, not lose their minds over details that could go wrong – you get the idea.

first look on lawn with palm trees

The groom gets to hang out with his friends all morning, playing golf, drinking beer – you name it. He’s relaxed & chilled out – but right before the ceremony, the gravity of the day starts to sink in & he gets a little anxious. Just before the ceremony, he’s put in a small room to wait to walk to the front of the aisle – and then as soon as he heads in, what does he see? Anywhere from 50-300 people looking right at him, because everyone is expecting a reaction from when he first lays eyes on his bride. This is the exact opposite of a private, intimate moment. A groom who’s already seen his bride has significantly fewer nerves and NO pressure to have a huge reaction. He’s going to be far more expressive & able to show his emotions!

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to do one – here are a few reasons why they’re amazing!!

1. You get to TALK to your fiance before you get absolutely swarmed with guests & family! This might not seem like it’s a huge deal at all but when you DON’T get to have a moment together, it could be the reception before you get to have a conversation!!

2. You’re going to get SO MANY MORE PHOTOS of the two of you! We’re not going to be rushed into cocktail hour or the reception by the DJ or coordinator because I always pad my timelines for the first look!

3. We’ll do your bridal party and family photos right after your first look portraits, which means that everyone gets to go to cocktail hour immediately after the ceremony – and after we do a handful of just married portraits, you’ll be able to go too!!

4. First looks diminish nerves – and while you’re in the planning stages you might not believe me, but every couple I’ve ever had do a first look is so happy they’ve done it because they feel so much better after!! All of my grooms are far more relaxed during the ceremony because they’ve already seen their gorgeous bride.

SO many couples are against a first look because they truly don’t understand all of the benefits that come with it. They think that they’re not going to have the same emotions when they walk down the aisle and see each other for the first time, but the opposite is true!! Once all those nerves are gone and you can just relax and be together, you’ll find that your emotions are more heightened – and you’re going to be SO EXCITED to marry each other!!

If you’re not already convinced, I asked some of my past brides what their thoughts were on doing a first look & here are some of their responses!!

man hugging woman first look wedding

Jenni: “I’m SO glad we did a first look. It was one of my favorite parts of the day. Being alone at this moment was so special and meant so much. Not only did Chris need it, but it also let us enjoy our party with our guests after the ceremony.”

man seeing woman at first look with umbrellas rainy wedding day

Jillian: “It was great to sneak away from all the chaos, all the noise, all the family members, and really just take a special moment for the two of us before we officially said I do!”

groom seeing bride for first time at wedding

Abby: “I was so against a first look initially but my husband is shy and can get quite nervous at times. After listening to what Caitlin had to say and reading what she had in her booklet it really helped us decide that we should do one. We both were less nervous and it was so great to get most of our pictures out the way first so we could enjoy the evening. One of the best decisions in terms of planning and making the day that much better.”

grooms reaction to bride on wedding day

Sierra: “I originally didn’t want a first look either and my husband was so relieved when Caitlin talked me into it! It was such a romantic moment between the two of us❤️ Derek said he loved that he could hug me and talk to me right away and we could just chat about how surreal and amazing the day was going to be together. He said if he saw me first when I walked down the aisle, he wouldn’t have been able to tell me how beautiful he thought I looked and would have had to wait the whole ceremony to kiss me! He was relieved he didn’t have to wait AND so much pressure was taken off of his reaction when I walked down the aisle, at that point, we were relaxed and just SO ready to get married! Also, they turned out to be our favorite pictures because we were so relaxed and full of love at that moment!”

first look wedding

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HI, I'M caitlin

New England based wedding and lifestyle photographer