The First Look – Why It’s Worth It!


Your first look is an amazing part of your wedding day! If you aren’t sure about this tradition, I hope I can help explain why it is such a romantic addition to your wedding day celebration! Not only does it add to the experience but it also reduces stress. I do still have lots of brides that choose not to do a first look. But often times after I explain the many benefits of having one, most bride change their minds entirely! I always want to make sure that I share all of the benefits of a first look. Because there is a reason why 90% of my couples choose to do this and LOVE it!

Alberta Wedding Photographer

The First Look Explained

If you are unsure exactly on what a “First Look” is, I am about to blow your mind with all the wonderful things that a first look brings. However, not everyone is aware of how wonderful they truly are. They tend to get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is and immediately write it off. Now, I will touch on where this “tradition” actually comes from in a minute. But first hear me out on what a first look is and some of the benefits it can bring to your wedding day.

Simply put, the first look is a moment intentionally set up by the photographer where the bride and groom share a very private moment before the ceremony. The groom will turn and see his bride for the first time and his reaction is captured perfectly! This controlled setting allows the photographers and videographers to have the best light, no distractions and a perfect shot of the groom EVERY TIME!

Alberta Wedding Photographer
Alberta Mountain Wedding Photographer

It starts with location…

First I start by selecting the most perfect location for the first look. Then I bring out the groom and get him into place. While giving him a full breakdown of what to do, how to turn, and any extra information he might need. I will also ensure he knows that I will be far enough away to capture this moment so that he doesn’t need to worry about it feeling like there is an audience. He is free to react in any way he likes and there is absolutely no rush for this special moment.

The official set-up…

Once the groom is set up and facing away. I then bring the bride about 12-15 feet behind the groom. This distance allows the bride to be able to walk towards her groom creating the same effect as he would have with her coming towards him at the alter. It not only allows him to see his bride in full from head to toe. But it also helps to create that “aisle” illusion in case that is a concern of missing out on with a first look.

Of course they are both extremely excited! After giving the bride the same break down as the groom I again let her know to take her time and just enjoy this moment alone with her groom. There is NO RUSH! Once she is ready I let her know to call his name and he can then turn around as she starts walking towards him!

Red Deer Alberta Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Alberta Wedding Photographer

What happens immediately after the first look?

I will never interrupt a first look! In fact one of the things I tell my couples while I am getting them in place is that I won’t interrupt this moment for them. Once they are ready they can turn to me and say “let’s start portraits.”

Since you are both already in the “lovey-dovey” zone after your first look. This is usually the best time to get right into some initial portraits together! I love getting all the must have portraits done during this time! It also means that during your portraits later in the day I can be creative knowing I already have all my must haves done! Which is a great feeling to have before the ceremony even begins!

I always ask my bride if she wants to have family or bridal party watch the first look. Some brides definitely want this reaction captured as well, and some just want complete privacy. No matter what you decide for that we will typically plan on doing all the bridal party portraits after your first look. This will allow your bridal party to head straight into cocktail hour and mingle with your guests after the ceremony.

The first look moment is my absolutely favourite of the entire wedding day! I sometimes cry. I am always “awing” quietly to myself. It is just such a beautiful moment! The photos I always get from a first look are the most precious reactions of the whole day(I think!)

River Valley Wedding Venue
River Valley Wedding Venue

Why it’s worth it!


It’s crazy to think, but we are technically adding additional portrait time to your wedding day! I work VERY quickly when it comes to capturing portraits. I typically end up delivering about 40% more Bride and Groom portraits just from this time together! Who doesn’t want more portraits from their wedding day?


A First Look can also serve as a type of insurance in the case of rain or storms! Imagine if you didn’t do a First Look and a storm sets in during the ceremony? Your window of opportunity for beautiful portraits has passed. However, if you shared a First Look… You’ve already gotten a large majority of your portraits done! Anytime you have scheduled ADDITIONAL portrait time in your timeline, it is an insurance policy knowing we have multiple chances to capture great portraits.

Alberta Wedding Photographer


Most weddings I capture that don’t have a first look, typically need about a 3 hour gap between their ceremony and reception. This is because not only do we need to capture your bride and groom portraits. But we also need to capture the family portraits AND the bridal party! Talk about pressure on your photographer to work quickly! But also, what are your guests doing? I have actually opted not to attend a wedding as a guest once as it was in the middle of nowhere and I had a newborn and toddler to entertain. It was just easier to stay home then try to figure out that in between time… With a first look, your guests get to move straight into cocktail hour and start enjoying themselves.


Speaking of cocktail hour! Wouldn’t it be amazing if you and your new husband could show up for the last little bit of it to mingle and visit with your guests? Knowing all of your portraits and formal parts of the day are already done. Typically by doing a first look you should be able to make it to that last 25-30 mins of your cocktail hour before you have to enter into your reception space IF DESIRED! I have even had some couples opt to sneak away to be alone and just take a 20 min break before entering their reception. By having a first look it gives you a lot more freedom to have opportunities for down time so you aren’t feeling so rushed all day.

Alberta Wedding Photographer


First Looks essentially allow you to extend your wedding day. Think about it… Without a first look, you are getting ready and then boom… Your day begins with the ceremony. Afterwards, you are rushing through your portraits so that you’re not late for your entrance into the reception. Then it’s party time and before you know it the night is over.

With a First Look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed through your family, bridal party, and bride and groom portraits all at once. You actually get to enjoy hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day and taking time to do couples portraits in shorter intervals throughout the day. It really is a gift that keeps giving! On those hot summer days it helps not to be out in the mid afternoon heat for 3 hours straight for portrait time. The WHOLE first half of my clients’ wedding albums are usually filled with images just from this time together before they even got to their ceremony.


You can say goodbye to majority of your nerves before you walk down the aisle! A lot of groom I speak with at first are not always on board with the first look right away. But because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they don’t know how nerve-racking it can be. I have SO many grooms who have testified and said they felt all their nerves melt away once that first look was over!


A First Look is the answer to the wedding day timeline crisis!  It creates ample portrait time and allows the bride and groom to celebrate freely. If you are a bride who just wants a chill wedding day and have time to enjoy each moment as it comes. If you don’t want to feel rushed, stressed or overwhelmed all day… You are a bride who needs to consider a first look!

The First Look - Alberta Wedding Photographer

The History Behind the Traditional First Look

I hate to be the one to debunk the true romance behind the beloved tradition of waiting for the ceremony to see your bride. And if you are still in love with the idea of this tradition, please know THAT IS OKAY! But I do want to explain the origins of the tradition so you can make an informed decision about its importance on your wedding day.

This magical and romantic tradition has a much less-than-romantic origin to its story. Back in the day, arranged marriages used to be the norm, serving more as a business deal between families than a love match. In fact, the couple didn’t just spend the morning of the wedding apart: There was a time when it was totally normal (and even expected) for the couple to have never seen or met one another before the wedding at all.

The deal was usually made by the bride’s father, who wanted his daughter to marry rich to help his own family. However, he might worry that if the groom saw the bride before the ceremony, he might not find her attractive and could call off the wedding—leading to serious shame for the bride and her family. So to avoid risking the family’s reputation, the tradition that the couple didn’t see each other until the ceremony was born.

Central Alberta Wedding Photographer

How the veil played a role…

The veil also comes into play here. By having a veil over the bride’s face, the groom wouldn’t see her until the very last moment. At the end of the ceremony when they’re meant to kiss, the groom would lift the veil and reveal his bride. At this time it would be too late to back out. The superstition about a bride and groom seeing one another before the ceremony has evolved into the (much more romantic) idea that the couple shouldn’t see each other until they’re at the altar or dressed in their ceremony attire. Today, it can symbolize the pair coming together to start their lives in front of the people who have supported and loved them along the way.

The truth is, does this historic explanation mean that you have to do a first look! ASOLUTELY NOT! Most people have no idea the history behind the tradition and think it is absolutely beautiful to uphold it in every way possible. I have photographed many wedding days where the couple has chosen not to do a first look, and it is just simply beautiful! The reason I am sharing this story and history with you is because a lot of people just don’t know! They want a “Traditional” ceremony but don’t actually know what that means. My job is to inform my couples of ALL their options in order to help them bring their dream wedding day plans to life.

Central Alberta Wedding Photographer

Alternate First Look Options

So if there is that possibility I wasn’t able to convince you of all the magnificence of the first look, THAT’S OKAY! I do still have a handful of brides each year that LOVE the idea of their groom seeing them walking down that aisle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

There are so many other beautiful ways to ensure we capture ALL those special reactions on your wedding day. Here are some amazing alternative First Look options and some BONUS bride and groom moments that may peak your interest:


These are precious moments to photograph, and I highly encourage any Daddy’s girl to make time in their timeline for this moment. It doesn’t take long at all! The hardest part is making sure Dad shows up on time! If Dad doesn’t show up on time, the whole timeline can get thrown off. I would recommend building this first look into your timeline and making sure Dad knows exactly where he needs to be and when. Another sweet idea I’ve seen is having the father of the bride escort the bride to her first look!

Central Alberta Wedding Photographer
Central Alberta Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Alberta Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Alberta Wedding Photographer
Alberta Wedding Photographer

Another Idea is to share a first look with both your parents at the same time! Of course your maid of honor would have to be the one to help you into your dress. But when Mom and Dad come into the room together, emotions run HIGH!

Red Deer Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer

Sharing this special moment with you bridesmaids is always so exciting!! It can be a challenge depending on how big your getting ready space is, as well as how many bridesmaids you have. But these reactions are some of my favourites to capture! The shrieking excitement helps as well!

River Valley Wedding Venue
River Valley Wedding Venue
River Valley Wedding Venue
River Valley Wedding Venue

How amazing is it to be able to capture the reaction of all the groomsmen before the groom gets to sneak a peek! Taking time to capture this creation is becoming more and more popular these days. I have also seen some brides include the entire bridal parties reaction at the same time! Which was super fun!

Alberta Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer
Red Deer Wedding Photographer

The most important advise I can give any couple planning a wedding is: Plan your wedding day for YOU and no one else! This is a day that happens once. It is a day dedicated to celebrate YOU! Which means it should be planned according to no one elses opinions, ideas, or judgement. Plan your wedding day with everything that you love and enjoy and you will have no regrets! I want to share with you my experience and knowledge for the sole purpose of explaining the benefits. So that way you can have all the tools you need to plan your perfect wedding day!

Make sure you stay up to date with all my wedding tips and tricks so you can make the most out of your wedding day. Click HERE to join my list and be notified whenever I share wedding tips.

  1. […] It is the final piece of the getting ready process and the last item added on. If you are doing a First Look with your groom, it may be fun to save the veil for when you walk down the aisle. It will add […]

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