Tips for Nailing the First Look moment on your Wedding Day

To first look or not to first look? Feels like the elephant in every wedding room but, there’s a lot of hard decisions tied into planning your wedding, this decision shouldn’t be one of the harder ones!

what is the first look, anyway?

So you probably know this – but humor me: A first look is the moment that a couple shares on their wedding when you see each other for the first time–literally, the first look! (Typically it happens before the actual ceremony takes place)

One thing most people don’t realize is that the first look is as much about logistics and timeline as anything else.

I’ll explain: When you see each other before the ceremony, it allows you to move the picture & portrait sessions before your ceremony. If you opt out of the first look, it means your portraits with your partner, bridal party and family happen after the ceremony. Don’t worry, either is a great choice; your wedding planning photo and video teams will make your timeline work seamlessly!

Some couples feel pressure to do a first look to free up their timeline, and some opt for the more traditional route and wait to see their partner at the altar. But the best part about getting married? You get to do your wedding, your way!

laur’s tip for couples

I’m a huge fan of the first look because it frees up more time later in the day by finishing formal portraits sooner. I also think it’s ideal to have photos taken while you’re fresh and your hair, makeup, attire and bouquet looks its absolute best!

I can promise you one thing – whatever you choose to do will be amazing. But today we’re going to focus on those of you that have decided to go ahead with a first look.

Here’s the tea on tips for the first look on your wedding day!

From the perspective of your favorite wedding content creator, I love when one of my couples decides to do a first look on their wedding day because it allows us to play around a little more with media and have more time for the fun, sentimental, and unscripted moments later on!

SO – if you are deciding to do a first look, Ask yourself a few questions – you’ll thank me later:

  • Where do you want your first look to happen?

  • What will you wear?

  • Who do you want to be there?

  • What do you want to happen?

And let’s break down each of these questions!

where do you want your first look to happen?

Take some time to think about the place and space that you’re going to see your fiancé on your wedding day for the very first time! This is a big question – Do you want a private area? This could be as simple as a hotel room or a certain nook of your venue like a ballroom, piano, or grand staircase. What do you want the background to look like? Depending on when you do it, your wedding florals or aisle may be finished and you can use that location for your first look. (Also, always have a rain plan. If you want your first look to be outdoors, it’s only responsible to think about the weather.)

At a wedding I shot recently in Chicago, the couple got ready in a hotel room that was, on its own, nothing particularly special. The bride wanted a bigger WOW moment, so we quickly moved downstairs to a grand staircase in the hotel. A simple location change gave the bride exactly what she wanted for the first time she saw her groom!

what should you wear?

One of the key elements of a first look is that the couple gets to see each other in their wedding attire for the first time. Obviously, you spent most of the morning getting ready, so you’ll likely be in your wedding attire (dress, suit, etc) and already looking 10/10!

laur’s tip for couples

Leave an element of surprise out of the first look. Some examples of this might be to leave your veil off, forego your bouquet, or to add gloves or sleeves before you walk down the aisle. This way, your partner sees you, but there’s still a little surprise for the aisle and the altar! One reason I hear from couples that don’t want to do a first look is because they want to see their partner’s true reaction when they walk down the aisle for the first time. By leaving an element of your wedding day outfit…out, you still get that full aisle moment and reaction.

who do you want to be there?

There’s at least two people that need to be there…you, your partner – AND I’ll be upset if you don’t invite me as well! Just kidding typically it will be the couple, and their media team. You may also have a member of you planning team with you.

Some couples go a step further and invite their wedding party or family to watch the first look. But, it’s just as common for the first look to be private with the nearlyweds and their media team.

This is also your sign to know that you can do a first look with anyone. Traditionally the first look is between the couples who is getting married. But, you can have a first look with whoever you want. It’s always sweet when the bride wants to do a first look with her dad or brothers (as seen from this wedding I shot). It’s also so sweet with the groom does a first look with his parents or siblings. You can do a first look with your bridesmaids, your friends, or even your dog. I’ve seen it all and I love it all!

@planwithlaur He couldn’t wait to see his favorite people get married #dogsatweddings #weddingdogs #dogfirstlook #firstlookwithdog #dogsinweddingphotos #dogsinweddings ♬ original sound – artoftheunknown

what should you do?

As much as I love giving advice – the only thing you can do at your first look is be present and feel. It is a moment that is indescribable its RAW and that is beautiful. I have the honor of being able to capture these moments and truly each one is so magical. Beyond getting to see your person on the wedding day. There are so many other things you can do at a first look to make it personal to you! Some couples will exchange gifts or even share private vows with each other. I’ve also seen couples say a prayer together. There are a million ideas of things you can do, the most important is being with one another, and know what ever you do, it will be magical!

laur’s tip for couples

Building your wedding day starts from the moment you see each other. You can personalize the look, the feel, the sounds you here. Your wedding day will rush by, so take any chance you get to build intentional time with one another!

Maybe you sit down to have a drink and let the wedding nerves cool off, or reminisce on your relationship. Make sure to spend some uninterrupted time with your partner.

Doing a private vow exchange is such a fun way to spend time together during your first look. It’s an unrivaled romantic moment with your partner — break out the tissues and bring them with you, because this is always an emotional moment!

@planwithlaur Private Wedding Vows I absolutely love this option for anyone planning a wedding! Even if you opt to say them again during your ceremony, you get such a soecial moment. + it’s great for all your videos! #weddingvows #privateweddingvows #weddingvowstip #weddingvowsinspo #weddingvowsinspiration ♬ original sound – Laur | Wedding Content Creator

Whether your first look happens early into your wedding day or at the aisle – know that you’ll never forget it!