Photographer Rob Jinks

Wedding Day First Look

Provided by Rob Jinks

It used to be that the first time a couple would see each other was at the start of their wedding ceremony, as the bride walked down the aisle with her father. However, today many couples are opting to see each other before the ceremony, taking advantage of what is called a “first look.”

As a wedding photographer, I encourage my couples to consider doing a first look, as there can be some advantages, but how should you choose which is right for you? Here are a few reasons to say yes to a first look and a few reasons to stick with tradition.

Reasons to say yes to a first look:

1. Get out the jitters. Enjoy a private moment together before being in front of your family and friends. If you feel that seeing each other for the first time and letting your emotions show at the altar is uncomfortable to you, then a first look might be a perfect way for you to get out any nervousness beforehand.
2. Get the photos you want before the ceremony. Do you want great couples portraits, great photos with your bridal party, and family groupings? Doing a first look let’s you get some or all of those photos done before the ceremony, saving time later in the day.
3. Give yourself the opportunity to be present with your guests at your cocktail hour. By getting those photos done before the ceremony, you then free up time to spend at the cocktail hour. You’ve planned, designed, and put together the best party of your life, so go enjoy it and don’t leave your guests wondering if your photographer will ever bring
you back.
4. Pick the perfect location. Since the first look is a planned event, your photographer can use your favorite location to capture the moment. Use their expertise to find the best location and light to capture this special time.

Reasons to stick with tradition:

1. You love the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. For my wife and I, we wanted to see each other at the ceremony. Something about it felt special and right to us. Talk to your spouse and see what is best for both of you.
2. Trying to force the emotion for the photo. Maybe you aren’t especially emotional people and are worried about trying to act excited just for the photo. If the pressure of wanting to get first look photos perfect is too much, save yourself any stress and opt for tradition.
3. Your dress and hair may not be absolutely perfect for the ceremony. The reality is that if you go outside, maybe under trees or in a field, you could get a tiny bit dirty, or you hair could slip slightly. If that causes you stress, either ask your hair and makeup artist to stay a little extra or make a different plan.
4. You won’t be married in some of your wedding portraits. Will it be strange to look back at your photos together knowing that you weren’t married in some of them? If so a first look might not be for you.
5. The timeline. Doing a first look will mean having to start everything in the day a little bit earlier, which may not work for some wedding timelines.

One Last Consideration

While a good photographer can work in any lighting condition to give you great images, it is important to consider the time of day. If you are having an afternoon wedding in the summer a first look would land in one of the worst times of day for photography, the 12:00-2:00 p. m. window, when the sun is high overhead. That might mean doing a first look indoors or in the shade. But if you’re having an afternoon wedding in the winter, a first look in the early afternoon would be much better. Talk with your photographer and see what they recommend for your wedding day.

In the end, the important part in all of this is talking it through with your spouse to be. Consider your family, your wedding day timeline, and find out what works best for the two of you. If you have any questions or further thoughts, please reach out on my website at, or connect on Instagram @robjinksphoto.

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