The First Look Photograph

The first look has to be one of my favourite moments when photographing a wedding. For those that don’t know, the “first look” or “reveal” happens before the actual ceremony, usually with just the photographer and the bride and groom. The photographer will usually stand the groom or bride in a way that allows the other to come up from another direction, resulting in this being the first time they see each other before the wedding. It is one of the rare moments at the wedding where we can enjoy a natural, intimate moment without a crowd of people around. The bride and groom get a bit of time together and some lovely photographs to start the day off. This is something a little less traditional and a little more unique that a wedding photographer can offer.

The First Look
Groom anxiously waits for his bride


For me as a photographer the biggest advantage to the first look photography session is the beautiful natural pictures you get. Photographers are not fans of the forced posing and fake smiles that most brides and grooms are not fans of either. While doing a first look we are not posing; we are not trying to get something specific, we are literally capturing the moment as it unfolds. Yes, once we get past that initial moment we might move into the portraits of just the bride and groom, but they are still much more relaxed and less hurried than ones that happen after the ceremony. We don’t have to worry about other family members also vying for the couple’s attention with phones in hands.


Often when I bring this up to clients they are hesitant as it is so engrained into our psyche for the groom not to see the bride before the ceremony. But tradition also involved the Wedding March song and churches at one point. Tradition also involved not living together and vows to obey. The tradition of not seeing the bride actually started as a way to prevent the groom from seeing the bride before the wedding in arranged marriages.


A wedding is almost always running late and rushed. The ceremony often goes long and the guests are looking forward to the reception. But all of that has to wait until the pictures are done. Most of the designed pictures that have to be done usually happen after the ceremony but before the reception. By having a first look before the ceremony it reduces some of the pictures that need to be done after the ceremony saving on time.

You Look your Best

Another advantage of the first look is that everyone is fresh and made-up properly. Makeup has just been applied, clothing is clean, and the sweat from the days stress hasn’t started. As the day goes on and the stress levels rise, as things start to happen and people move around, the new hair starts to fall and clothing gets messy. Yet before the ceremony none of this has happened yet so when the photographer is taking your picture it is done as you are looking your best.

In Summary

When I am meeting with a client they will often ask for something unique for photography and this is one of those moments a photographer can offer that will provide some unique images. Of course, it is your wedding and your own unique day, and if you have decided on not seeing each other until the ceremony, be assured that I will come up with some great images as well! However I am always thrilled when I do find a couple that is up for first look photography – witnessing such a pure beautiful moment is truly special for me as well, and there is no better time for capturing your radiant smiles when you see your lovely bride or handsome groom.

first look at the wedding