Bride and groom sharing a tender kiss during their First Look in a black and white photograph.

First Look Wedding: The Ultimate Guide with Pro Tips for Brides

Explore the Ultimate Guide to First Look Weddings by Yana Yart. Find essential tips, pros and cons, classic and unique ideas, plus answers to all your questions.

In the middle of your wedding whirlwind, there’s one serene moment that stands still in time – the First Look.

I’m Yana Yart, a passionate wedding and elopement photographer who has captured these timeless moments in Europe’s most romantic destinations.

The First Look, a moment I personally cherished at my own wedding, holds a special place in my heart. It’s more than just a photo opportunity; it’s a pause in time where emotions flow and love shines brightest.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through every detail of creating your own unforgettable First Look. From planning tips to heartfelt alternatives, I’m here to help you weave this beautiful tradition into the tapestry of your wedding day, ensuring that every emotion is captured in its purest form. You’re not just planning a wedding; you’re crafting a legacy of love, and I’m here to guide you every step of the way.

What is the First Look in a Wedding?

A First Look is a heartfelt wedding tradition where the couple sees each other privately before the ceremony. This moment, away from the eyes of guests, allows for genuine reactions and a peaceful interlude amidst the day’s excitement. Unlike the traditional aisle reveal, the First Look offers an intimate setting for couples to connect and savor the emotion of the day.

As a wedding photographer, I value the beauty and authenticity of these moments. The First Look typically takes place in a secluded spot, chosen for its tranquility and beauty, whether it’s within your venue or a picturesque outdoor setting. It’s not just a photo opportunity but a chance to calm nerves, share a laugh, or even shed a tear of joy. Whether it’s a classic First Look with your partner or a touching father-daughter first look, it adds a unique and emotional dimension to your wedding day.

Reasons Why to Consider a First Look for Your Wedding

Let me persuade you why a First Look should be a cherished part of your wedding day. This beautiful tradition isn’t just about photographs; it’s an opportunity to create a profoundly personal and unforgettable experience.

Here are five compelling reasons why you should consider a First Look:

  1. Capture Authentic Emotions: First look wedding photos are treasured for capturing raw, unscripted emotions. This intimate setting allows for genuine expressions of love, surprise, and joy, resulting in deeply personal and memorable photographs.
  2. Ease Pre-Ceremony Nerves: The anticipation of seeing each other can be nerve-wracking. A First Look offers a private moment to calm those jitters, providing comfort and reassurance before walking down the aisle.
  3. More Time for Photos: By opting for a First Look, you effectively extend your wedding photography timeline. This means more opportunities for relaxed, unhurried portraits, and the chance to capture a wider variety of first look wedding photo ideas.
  4. Savor a Private Moment Together: Amidst the hustle and bustle of the wedding day, a First Look is a rare opportunity for solitude. It’s a chance for couples to connect, reflect, and share a quiet moment before the public festivities begin.
  5. A Unique, Personalized Experience: Your First Look is yours to design. Choose a meaningful spot within your venue — perhaps a hidden garden, a beautifully decorated hallway, or a scenic overlook that resonates with your story. This moment offers the perfect opportunity to express your individuality. Some couples exchange letters, gifts, or just enjoy being together. This is your moment to add personal touches that reflect your journey together.

Emotional groom wiping a tear during a classic First Look with his bride at their wedding.
In a single glance, a thousand emotions: Witnessing the pure joy and heartfelt tears as he sees his bride for the first time. Grateful for the opportunity to join Marina Muravnik Photography in documenting this special day.

Pros and Cons of a First Look Wedding

Deciding whether to have a First Look on your wedding day is an important decision. Let’s explore the pros and cons to help guide you through this decision to ensure you have all the information you need to determine if a First Look aligns with your wedding vision and desires.


  1. Private Space for Emotions: If you or your partner are likely to become teary or highly emotional, a First Look offers a private space to express these feelings without the pressure of an audience, and the opportunity to touch up makeup or dress before the ceremony.
  2. Calm Pre-Ceremony Nerves: Sharing a quiet moment together before the ceremony can help soothe any anxiety.
  3. Extended Photo Time for Portraits and Diverse Opportunities:A First Look gives you the advantage of essentially two photo sessions. Before the ceremony, you have ample time for couple portraits, allowing you to explore different locations and capture a variety of angles and moments. This is especially beneficial as post-ceremony sessions are often shorter due to group photos and typical wedding day delays. With a First Look, you ensure a rich collection of couple portraits without the rush, capturing the full story of your day.
  4. Efficient Use of Time: With a First Look, you can complete most of your couple portraits before the ceremony, freeing up more time to enjoy with your guests during the reception. This smoother timeline can be especially beneficial for keeping the day relaxed and enjoyable.
  5. Personalized Experience: You have the opportunity to create a unique and personalized moment that reflect your relationship.


  1. Breaks Tradition: For those who value the conventional aisle reveal, a First Look might feel like straying from tradition.
  2. Additional Planning and Early Start: Opting for a First Look involves carefully scheduling to fit into your wedding day timeline seamlessly. This often means starting your day earlier to accommodate the extra time needed, potentially extending the overall length of your wedding celebration.
  3. Keeping the Dress Hidden: For brides who want the first reveal of their wedding dress to be at the ceremony, avoiding a First Look ensures that the gown remains a surprise for everyone, including the groom, until that moment.
  4. Weather Dependence: If you’re planning an outdoor First Look, weather can be an unpredictable factor that might require a backup plan (your photographer or a planner will help you with that)
  5. Staying True to Personal Style: If a First Look doesn’t resonate with your style or the vibe you want for your wedding, it’s perfectly fine to skip it. Your wedding should reflect your personality and preferences.

The First Look Timeline: Tips and Considerations

When planning the First Look for your wedding, it’s all about creating a moment that feels natural and heartfelt. Here’s a simple guide on timing, location, and seamlessly blending it into your day, ensuring every moment is captured beautifully.

  1. Time Needed for First Look Photos: Aim for about 30-45 minutes for your First Look. This gives you enough time for the emotional reveal and to capture those precious first look wedding photos, without feeling rushed.
  2. Best Time for First Look at a Wedding: Schedule your First Look after getting ready and before guests arrive. If your ceremony is in the afternoon, late morning is ideal. For an evening ceremony, early afternoon works best. Your photographer can guide you on the perfect timing for the best light.
  3. Choosing Your First Look Wedding Location: Find a spot that feels intimate and special within your venue, like a secluded garden or a quiet corner with a beautiful view. If there’s a meaningful place near the venue, consider that too, just remember to factor in travel time.
  4. First Look Wedding Ideas: Integrating into Your Day: Talk with your wedding planner and photographer about fitting the First Look naturally into your schedule. They’ll help ensure it flows smoothly with other activities, like getting ready and welcoming guests.
  5. Post-First Look Plans: After your First Look, you might want to take this opportunity for some group photos with your bridal party or family. Planning these photos right after can keep your day on track and full of joy.

Your First Look is a chance to pause and really be present with each other on your wedding day. With a little planning, this moment can be a tranquil, emotional highlight, beautifully captured and forever treasured.

Classic First Look Wedding Photo Ideas for Couples

Crafting a magical First Look on your wedding day is all about those special details that resonate with your love story. Here are ten tender and picturesque ideas to make your First Look moment truly unforgettable:

  1. Back Approach: The groom awaits with his back turned, as the bride gently approaches him. The anticipation builds up to a beautiful, emotional reveal.
  2. Blindfolded Surprise: The groom is blindfolded until the bride is right in front of him. Removing the blindfold adds an element of surprise and excitement to the First Look.
  3. Around the Corner: Stand around a corner, out of sight, holding hands. This adds a sweet, anticipatory touch before the big reveal.
  4. Staircase Reveal: Have the groom wait at the bottom of a grand staircase as the bride descends. It’s a classic, elegant, and visually stunning setup.
  5. Through a Doorway: Stand on either side of a doorway, reaching out without seeing each other, then step into view for a heartfelt reveal.
  6. Balcony Overlook: If your venue has a balcony, the bride can appear on it while the groom waits below, creating a romantic, storybook moment.
  7. Veil Drop: Start with the bride’s veil covering her face. The groom lifts the veil for the reveal, adding a traditional and romantic element to the First Look.
  8. Nature’s Pathway: Set a pathway in a garden or natural setting at your wedding venue. The groom waits at the end as the bride walks towards him. It’s a serene and picturesque choice.
  9. Letter Exchange: Before seeing each other, exchange letters or personal vows. Reading these personal words adds emotional depth to the First Look.
  10. Surrounded by Flowers: Utilize the ceremony’s floral arch or other venue decor as the backdrop for your First Look. This not only ties in the beauty of your wedding theme but also gives you a preview of the magical setting where you’ll exchange your vows.

Unique First Look Variations for Weddings: Beyond the Classic Couple Moment

When it comes to your wedding day, the sky is truly the limit, and this includes reimagining the First Look. You don’t have to stick to the classic scenario of bride and groom. Instead, you can infuse this moment with unique and personal touches that reflect your relationships with the special people (and pets!) in your life. To inspire your creativity, here are my ideas on how to diversify and personalize your First Look, adding even more joy and surprise to your celebration.

  1. Father-Daughter First Look: Capture that special moment when a father sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. This can be a deeply touching and tear-jerking experience for both.
  2. Bride and Bridesmaids Reveal: Arrange a First Look with your bridesmaids, especially if they haven’t seen your dress. Their reactions and excitement will add a fun and supportive element to the day.
  3. Groom and Groomsmen Surprise: Similar to the bridesmaids’ reveal, have the groom surprise his groomsmen. This moment can be filled with brotherly affection and camaraderie.
  4. Parents’ First Look: Include both parents in this special moment. Their expressions upon seeing their child ready to walk down the aisle can be incredibly emotional and memorable.
  5. Sibling First Look: If you have a close bond with your siblings, consider a First Look with them. It’s a wonderful way to honor your shared history and love on this significant day.
  6. First Look with Grandparents: Grandparents often hold a special place in our hearts. A First Look with them can be exceptionally moving and a beautiful nod to family heritage.
  7. Flower Child’s Delight: If you have a young flower girl or ring bearer, their innocent and often humorous reactions to seeing you all dressed up can be a sweet addition.
  8. Best Friend First Look: Sometimes, a best friend’s reaction is as precious as family. This can be an incredibly joyful and uplifting moment.
  9. Pet’s First Look: If you have a beloved pet, consider a First Look with them. Animals often have amusing and heartwarming reactions to their owners in wedding attire.
  10. Solo Reflective First Look: Before meeting anyone else, take a moment alone to see yourself in full wedding attire. This self-reflective First Look can be a powerful moment of realization and self-appreciation.

Frequently Asked Questions About First Look Weddings

What exactly is a First Look in a wedding? 

A First Look is a heartfelt moment before the wedding ceremony where the couple sees each other for the first time, typically in their wedding attire. It’s a private opportunity to share the anticipation and joy of the day, capture intimate photos, and ease any pre-ceremony nerves.

How long does a First Look usually take?

A First Look generally takes about 30-45 minutes. This allows enough time for the couple to have their intimate moment, express their emotions, and for the photographer to capture a variety of meaningful photos.

Does the First Look replace walking down the aisle?

No, a First Look doesn’t replace the traditional walk down the aisle. It’s an additional, private moment shared before the public ceremony, offering a different, more intimate experience.

Can you kiss during the First Look?

Absolutely! A First Look is a personal, intimate moment between the couple, and many choose to express their love with a kiss, a hug, or other affectionate gestures.

Is a First Look right for every couple?

A First Look is a personal choice and may not be for everyone. It’s ideal for couples who want to share a private moment before the ceremony or wish to have more photos together. However, some prefer the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony.

Who attends the First Look?

Typically, the First Look is a moment shared just between the couple. However, some couples choose to include their parents, siblings, or bridal party members. Who attends is entirely up to you and what feels right for your special day is.

What can I do instead of a First Look?

If you prefer not to have a First Look, consider exchanging letters or gifts, having a special phone call, or even a blindfolded conversation where you can speak but not see each other.

Is it worth doing a First Look?

Many couples find a First Look incredibly worthwhile for the private connection, the emotion-filled photos, and the chance to ease into the day together. However, it’s a personal decision that should align with your vision and feelings about wedding traditions.

Intimate moment between bride and groom under the shade of a tree at the Palace of Correio-Mor
Intimate First Look between bride and groom in the lush gardens of Palace of Correio-Mor.

As we wrap up this ultimate guide to First Look weddings, I want to express my genuine happiness for you as you approach your beautiful wedding day. I hope these insights have answered your questions and sparked ideas that resonate with your heart’s desires for your wedding.

Remember, your First Look is a canvas for your love story, and I would be honored to capture every authentic, beautiful moment of it. If this guide has brought you clarity, inspiration or simply made you even more excited for your special moments, my heart is full.

If you’ve found a friend in these words and see a potential storyteller in my photography, let’s turn the possibility into a plan. I would be honored to be considered your photographer for your wedding in Portugal or anywhere in Europe. For ongoing inspiration and tales of love, continue to explore my blog or connect with me on Instagram.

Here’s to the beginning of your forever. May your wedding day be as unique and beautiful as your First Look and every day that follows.

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