process & pricing





Best of Zola 2023
Best of Zola 2024

Wedding Education

Capture the Moment: 5 Reasons Why a First Look is a Must

April 28, 2023

I'm your Minneapolis Wedding Photographer pumped to provide an inclusive, sustainable and SUPER FUN wedding day experience with you at the center!

Ready to disrupt the wedding status quo?
Forget what everyone is telling you to do.
tell me more

You’re engaged, you’ve found a venue and set a date, and now you’re starting to imagine your day! EEK!!!

One of the first questions to answer is: Do you want a first look? 

Wait, backup a sec. What is a first look?

A first look is an intentional, intimate moment where you and your partner greet each other in all your splendor for the first time on your wedding day. The only other person or people around are your photo/video team and don’t worry, we’ll be out of earshot.

The first look is in place of the traditional American event of seeing each other for the first time at your ceremony…in front of everyone you’ve invited to your wedding. 

As a wedding photographer that has been a part of dozens of weddings, I always encourage my couples to consider having a first look. Read more to find out why!

Have a More Relaxed Timeline

When you have a first look, you’re opting for a more relaxed timeline for your day, and who doesn’t love a low-stress wedding day??

Like many things, I think this is better represented with an example. Let’s bring back our couple, Logan and Madison, from my Family Photos Wedding Blog!

Check out this timeline for a traditional American wedding day WITHOUT a first look:

1:00pm Photographer arrives; scouting

1:10pm Madison getting ready / details

1:40pm Logan getting ready / details

2:10pm Logan’s wedding party

2:30pm Madison’s wedding party

2:50pm Madison’s immediate family

3:10pm Logan’s immediate family

3:30pm Rest, Reset, Hide before ceremony

4:00pm Ceremony

4:30pm Ceremony concludes; recession

4:45pm Cocktail hour; combined family photos

5:05pm Combined wedding party photos

5:25pm Couple’s portraits

5:45pm Guests asked to be seated for dinner

6:00pm Grand march, welcome, dinner

6:45pm Speeches

7:05pm Cake cutting, first dance, special dances

7:20pm Open dance floor

8:00pm Photo coverage ends

Let’s look at this together. There are lots of moving parts at the beginning of the day, in an effort to keep hidden from each other. Not only that, but you don’t get to see each other and have a private moment together until 4pm!! Then, you are not alone until 5:25pm, and that’s only for a small period of time. And this is your wedding day?? 

Not to mention your families and wedding party need to hang around with you for group photos after the ceremony instead of celebrating as well. 

Ok, so what does a timeline look like when you have a first look? Let’s go!

12:30pm Madison getting ready / details

1:00pm Logan getting ready / details

1:30pm First look

2:00pm Couples photos

2:30pm Wedding party photos

3:00pm Immediate family photos

3:30pm Rest, Reset, Hide before ceremony

4:00pm Ceremony

4:30pm Ceremony concludes, recession

4:45pm Cocktail hour (you get to hang out with your guests!)

5:45pm Guests asked to be seated for dinner

6:00pm Grand march, welcome, dinner

6:45pm Speeches

7:05pm Cake cutting, 

7:15pm Sunset photos

7:45pm First dance, special dances

8:00pm Open dance floor

8:30pm Photo coverage ends

Alright, so you got an extra hour of coverage in there, and actual wedding photos to show for it! No 5-10 minutes here and there to transition between your wedding parties/families. You actually get to attend your cocktail hour. AND you get a half hour of sunset photos to sneak off, just the two of you, and get a breather along with some DREAMY photos! 

Not sold yet? Keep reading to learn more about first looks!

Nix the Nerves

Yo. Do you think you and/or your partner are going to have nerves on your wedding day? Of course you are! You’re not only FINALLY getting married, you’ve worked hard to get to this day, all the planning and prep and it’s finally here! Woohoo! Nerves are 1000% normal, trust me. 

But you get to choose what kind of nerves and for how long you have them. 

Do you want to feel stressed out about making sure you don’t spoil the surprise before the wedding ceremony as you swap groups around? Nah.

Considering the wedding timeline from above, do you want nerves until 1:30pm at your first look with just your partner, or do you want nerves until 4:00pm IN FRONT OF EVERYONE?

Ok, ok, I’ll stop being dramatic. But the amount of stress (good or bad) included in your day comes down to planning a day that inherently includes the least amount of stress possible. Ideally, being with your partner quells any of those stressors!

Share an Intimate Moment Together

Seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day is such a special moment. It’s totally up to you if you want to share that just with each other, have some friends or family look on, or if you want to have that moment in front of all of your guests. 

As stated in the section above, if you are excited to see each other for the first time at your ceremony, by all means! 

But if you, like most, feel a bit overwhelmed by all the things on a wedding day to begin with, having a moment to be together, just the two of you, to appreciate that you made it, share a gift or vows, or just a massive hug, can relax the heck out of you. 

Life is meant to be shared together…starting with your wedding day!

Spend Time with Your Guests

The timeline says it all! 

When you have a first look, you can have a receiving line and join your own cocktail hour. YAY! 

If you opt to see each other for the first time at your ceremony, there are more formal wedding photos to be taken afterwards, including your own. This leaves you to likely nix the receiving line, have a large gap between your ceremony and reception, or miss your cocktail hour altogether. 

But you invited all those people to your wedding! That means eating your dinner quickly and making the rounds to all the tables to greet your guests. 

Now, of course people have been doing that forever. But you don’t HAVE to! Remember, your day only needs to be as stressful as you want it to be. 

So do a first look, get all your formal photos done before your guests arrive, and the party with your peeps!

Simplify the Logistics

Alright, you can kinda see this in the timeline examples. 

Without the first look, we move you and your crew in and out separately from your partner and their crew before the ceremony. We’ll need to make sure you don’t pass each other or see each other out a door or window. Then after, we need to make sure to re-gather your families and wedding party to finish up.

But with the first look, after you have your moment together we can just call the whole wedding party out! Then your whole family. And then you can hide and hang out together as your guests filter in for your ceremony. Breathe a sigh of relief? A first look is probably for you!

Let’s Wrap Up!

If you’re looking to spend time with your partner and your guests on your wedding day, all while lowering your stress levels,  first look wedding pictures are an excellent choice!

Still unsure? Talk to your wedding photographer and/or wedding planner about the pros and cons of each option for your unique day! Afterall, there is a reason I build a custom timeline for every one of my couples! 
Looking for a wedding photographer to lead you through it all? I would love to hear from you! Reach out to see if I’m available for your day and for package details here!

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Browse By Category






It's Jess!

Passionate about celebrating relationships between partners and between us and our home, Earth.

Life is so much better when we are all together, amiright? :D


free download

What's your wedding vibe?

Do you envision a big wedding with everyone you know and a sick dance party? Or does an intimate affair where you can celebrate and splurge on those closest to you sound more like your vibe? Or, maybe you have no idea yet! 

Let’s find out what your dream wedding day looks like together!