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The First Look: Trend vs. Tradition

Hi Friends!  As we continue With This Ring- The Wedding, I have the pleasure of breaking down The First Look. For some couples this is a no brainer, but for others this simply isn’t an option. So let’s discuss what the First Look is, how it can be beneficial from a photographer’s point of view, and hear from a few of my past brides about their First Look decision!

In recent years there have been an increase in the number of couples that choose to have a First Look on their wedding day. I would even venture to say that this is a trend that is here to stay for a while.  For many brides the idea of seeing their groom prior to the ceremony is taboo. Most brides who are unsure of a First Look are also afraid that the impact of her coming down the aisle will not be the same if she does a First Look.  I’ve heard many times that “I want to see his reaction when I come down the aisle” and typically a First Look doesn’t change that, it simply changes who witnesses it.  If your guy is not the emotional type, he may not be on the wedding day and that’s ok! Often, I hear of these extreme expectations of what the bride expects the groom to do and sometimes that’s not always the case.  His nerves may strike at some point during the day but at exactly which point has been unpredictable for many brides. A couple’s reason for doing a First Look (or not) may vary, so ultimately it is your decision!

Weyant WeddingFor those of you who are unfamiliar with what a First Look is and the purpose of doing one, here is how I explain it to my couples:

1- An Intimate Moment Before the Excitement Begins
A First Look is an intimate moment shared between a bride and groom before the festivities of the actual wedding day begins. In the past I have seen couples read letters to one another, pray, cry, hug or just share quiet time once they’ve gotten ready for the wedding. Also, during this time, I am there as their photographer, capturing these moments for them to cherish later. This is typically done in a location that is out of view of others, so the couple isn’t interrupted or on display in front of crowds.

2- Potentially More Bride and Groom Portraits
Ultimately, couples that opt to do a First Look receive 30% more portraits from their wedding day than those that do not because we have included additional time in their wedding timeline for this specific moment. For couples that are getting married later in the year, it gets darker earlier in the evening. In order to achieve outdoor portraits after Daylight Savings Time, a First Look is necessary for ceremonies beginning after 3pm.

3- A Way To Stay on Schedule During the Wedding Day
A First Look can serve as a time saver. Planning for the first look can be a way to ensure the schedule does not fall behind on the wedding day. Because the First Look is done before the ceremony begins, the bride and groom are dressed about an hour earlier than normal. If for some reason the schedule gets thrown off, the couple can forego a first look and still be on time for their ceremony.

Weyant WeddingTo share a few First Look experiences I surveyed three of my past TBP Brides regarding their decision to photograph their First Look.  Here is what Brittani, Emily, and Farrah had to share:

2013 bride, Mrs. Brittani Sanders did not do a First Look and she shares her thoughts with us:
Lin Wedding 2015

When I asked Brittani if she would could go back and change her mind about a First Look, she shared:

Would I change anything? No. I thought about the first look afterwards and initially thought that it would have been better to have the private moment to ourselves, but when I look at the pictures I still get speechless. Everything about that moment was perfect, and I am glad we have those memories to cherish forever.

Note: Brittani opted to do a Daddy-Daughter First Look, which is special for so many obvious reasons for women with a special connection to their fathers!

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0350Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0343

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0342Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0344Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0345

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0347

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0349

2015 bride, Mrs. Emily Lin did a First Look and she shares her thoughts with us:

Lin Wedding 2015

When I asked Emily about her feelings coming down the aisle and her advice to brides, she also shared:
I still had butterflies walking down the aisle, but I was definitely more at ease. I was grateful that I was able to talk to him before the ceremony to calm my nerves.

For any brides on the fence, browse through all the photos that were taken during first look sessions! The emotion that shows through these pictures is so moving! That’s all it took for me!

Note: After the wedding, Jon and Emily took a few more portraits as husband and wife before joining their guests at Cocktail Hour. This is how they are able to receive 30% more photos from their wedding day without having to purchase additional photography coverage, which gave them more options for their signature wedding album!  Additionally, we had time to use more photo locations near their wedding venue and weren’t rushed to do so!  You can see more of their wedding photos featured on Every Last Detail!

Lin Wedding 2015

Lin Wedding 2015
Lin Wedding 2015Lin Wedding 2015Lin Wedding 2015

Lin Wedding 2015Lin Wedding 2015Lin Wedding 2015

2014 bride, Dr. Farrah Ward did not do a First Look and she shares her thoughts with us:

Lin Wedding 2015

When I asked Farrah if she would could go back and change her mind about a First Look, she shared:

Yes, absolutely! It rained off and on during my wedding day and doing a First Look could have given us more of an opportunity to take photos outdoors. We were able to take a few photos outside before having to return indoors, so this would be the only change I would make to my wedding day!

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0361Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0362

So there you have it, three brides with three different perspectives of their wedding day. What I love is that all three brides have their reasons for why they made their decision regarding a First Look.  Because the First Look is a trend that is more accepted the more brides understand it, plan to see this option stick around for a while!

So the question you may ask, is a First Look mandatory with most photographers?  For me, I would have to say no, but given certain requests for photos (i.e. National Monuments, multiple locations, or large bridal parties and families), I will encourage it as an option.  Ultimately, a couple decides what they want on their wedding day! I would love to hear your thoughts on a First Look for your wedding day!

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0353

burton-wedding-0138Laing Wedding 2014

Jones Wedding 2014

Jones Wedding 2014

Atagwe Wedding 2015

Lastly, as an alternative to a First Look with your groom, some brides have opted for a Daddy-Daughter First Look, a First Touch,  a Blind-folded Prayer or even a Gift Exchange.  While this may not result in an increase in additional Bride and Groom portraits since you aren’t seeing your groom, it does still allow you to create personal moments that can be documented by your photographer and cherished for years to come!

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0365

Pros and Cons of a First Look photos Terri Baskin_0366

Want more???  You can view the entire #WITHTHIS💍 The Wedding:Blog Series below. (Links will be updated daily)

Monday (May 23, 2016): “Your Wedding Day: Planning your Photo Timeline” (Iris Mannings)

Tuesday (May 24, 2016): “5 Must Dos for Getting Bridal Ready” (Rhea Whitney)

Wednesday (May 25, 2016): “The First Look: Trend vs. Tradition” (Terri Baskin)

Thursday (May 26, 2016): “Creating a Ceremony Experience” (Natarsha Wright)

Friday (May 27, 2016): “Planning for Perfect Portraits” (Kamron Khan)

Saturday (May 28, 2016): “How to Rock Your Reception” (Mecca Gamble)

Sunday (May 29, 2016: “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT”

L~ F~:~F
Lauren Tele Kendall

This was so so sweet! I never thought about a Daddy-Daughter first look and I definitely want to do that and also one with my grandfather if I have time. My fiance has stated multiple times that he wans to wait until I come down the aisle so I am okay with that, but a blind-folded look would be nice to help me calm my nerves. Thanks Terri! you are awesome!!!!


Such a great post! Love all the different perspectives AND the photos of course… 🙂

Monique Jones

Prior to reading this post, I was TOTALLY againist a first look. My reasoning like most brides-to-be is that is I wanted to see the initial reaction of my soon-to-be husband seeing me first walking down the aisle. After reading this post, I still feel the same, but I now see the benefits and would be open to alternatives. I like the option of a first look for the father-daughter, and believe this is something I would possiibly want to do. I would consider doing a first look with my groom-to-be if perhaps we didn’t see each. Options would be use having our backs face each other, or blindfolded and praying prior to the wedding. However, if in event that it were to rain (I pray this doesn’t happen as we are having an outdoor weedding) I may really reconsider the first look, and us actually looking at each other (LOL) as an option with the photographer.

Brittney S. Carter

Yes! Yes! And TRIPLE YES! My fiance and I at first was like oh NO! I want the first time to see you coming down the alter, but after reading this and talking to our wedding planneer, we agreed that this moment seems so special, intimate and needed so we are going with a First-Look! I can’t wait to see his reaction of being the FIRST to see his Bride before the big crowd. Thank you Terri for this helpful and inspiring post!!! <3

Shanice Christopher

My fiancé and I agreed right away that we want to do a First Look (yay!). We want to carve out a small portion of our day where we can just be in our own bubble and cherish the moment right before the ceremony. My recently married friends talk about how the day is often a “blur” or a “whirlwind”. So, we look forward to having that dedicated,private moment to lavish in our love! Also, I love all the perspectives and options represented in this post. It just proves that each wedding is unique to the couple. Looking forward to another great post tomorrow!


Great post Terri! I love that you guys are doing this series, it’s SO beneficial for brides!

Auriel Ryane

I am so appreciative of the Brides who you included! I will be sending this along to my fiancé to hear his thoughts, because I was initially against a first look. But I like that it can make our growing wedding more intimate. Although, I’m concerned our venue doesn’t have many secluded areas (with natural light…learned that one yesterday ) to sneak away for a first look and do formal portraits. Any suggestions? I also LOVED your suggestions for alternatives to a full blown First Look (thank you)!

Terri Baskin Photography

Awwww, thanks for reading!!!!! We love the support from our fellow photographers!

Terri Baskin Photography

Thank you so much Naomi!!! We are just trying to help educate our brides like I’m sure you do!!!

JaLisa Frasier

Very interesting and it gives me something to think about. I’m so happy to be a part of the series. Helpful. Thank you!

D.D. Ferguson

I am traditional, so as the Mother of the bride, I would wait until the ceremony . However, my daughter and her fiancé are the ones to make the decision. I do love that it gives extra time and photos of the bride and groom. Also, it would save time to get to the reception on time. Either way they decide is fine by me. I’m just so thankful to be here to help her. These blogs are very helpful! Thanks so much and I pray you will have a blessed day tomorrow!

With this Ring: Creating a Ceremony Experience | Natarsha Wright

[…] “The First Look: Trend vs. Tradition” (Terri […]

Ashlee Cherry

Wowwwwwwww! Now you have me thinking. My fiancé wants to do a first look but like stated above I want to see his reaction as I am walking down the aisle. Now, I have a lot to think about because I understand the first look better thanks to this blog. I’ve been showing my fiancé these blogs and we talk about them. I know he is going to love to discuss this one haha. Thanks ladies! Will we have a first look????? I will be asking myself this all day now.

#WithThis Blog Series The Wedding: May 23-28 | Natarsha Wright

[…] “The First Look: Trend vs. Tradition” (Terri […]

Jennifer Terry

Hmmm you have me rethinking my stance on first looks. I’m still not sure I’ll be doing a full first look but I definitely love the idea of the first touch. And I love the Daddy-Daughter first look, we’ve got to do that!

Danielle Shipp

I LOVE the idea of the father-daughter first look. Unfortunately, my father passed away so I will have to find other ways to celebrate him throughout the day.

I like the bride and groom first look for logistical purposes with the timeline and to give the bride and groom a quiet moment before the whirlwind of a day begins. However, I think I want his first look to be when I come down the aisle everything else will work out it has centuries

Krystyn IsBlessed

Thank you for the testimonials! This really gives me do thing to think about. First look or no first look? Really considering it!

Brittney S. Carter

Up still re-reading you all’s posts and adding to my planner! Lol Told my 3 Bride 2 Be friends about this helpful series! You ladies rock!

Speaking Event | The Bridal Brunch » Virginia + Destination Wedding Photographer | Terri Baskin Photography

[…] include doing a First Look.  You can learn how to get 30% more portraits by doing a first look here. Other trends in wedding photography include having an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony.  Guests with […]

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