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What is a First Look?

What is a First Look?

Weddings are a global constant when it comes to celebrating love and partnership, which means that there are so many different types of weddings and wedding traditions out there. But one practice is beginning to rise toward tradition status: the first look. The first look is something that you can do at any wedding or elopement, with any style or type of ceremony. If you’ve scrolled through Instagram or have attended a wedding recently, you may have already seen a first look — but if you haven’t, we’re going to break down what a first look is, why couples choose to have one, and some first look wedding ideas. 

What is a first look?

A first look is centered around the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day prior to their ceremony. Often, there’s a focus on seeing each other in your wedding outfits for the first time, but at its core, a first look is meant for couples to have a private moment before their wedding ceremony and reception, which typically demands their attention and doesn’t always allow partners to fully embrace such a special moment just the two of them.



A first look is centered around the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day prior to their ceremony. Often, there’s a focus on seeing each other in your wedding outfits for the first time, but at its core, a first look is meant for couples to have a private moment before their wedding ceremony and reception, which typically demands their attention and doesn’t always allow partners to fully embrace such a special moment just the two of them. 

Why do people have first looks?

As mentioned above, a big reason to have a first look is to make time for a moment that’s just for you and your partner. But there are a lot of other reasons to have a first look — pictures being a big one. Setting aside time to get portraits and couple-centric shots prior to your ceremony takes the pressure off the couple and their wedding or elopement photographer when it comes to timing, so that you’re not scrambling for portraits and family photos after your ceremony. First look photos are also some of the most emotionally raw images a photographer can capture, as it’s all about an intimate moment between the couple, with nobody watching. 

First looks are also a great way to relax your nerves before your ceremony. With no pressure to perform in front of a crowd, you and your partner can just be together and enjoy each other. Some people even take this time to exchange private vows or gifts before the ceremony.

If you’re having guests, having a first look means you get more time to socialize and enjoy them! By taking first look photos and portraits of just the two of you, that leaves more time for you to mingle at cocktail hour, enjoy a drink or have some hors d’oeuvres, and take group photos. This can make for a more casual and relaxed atmosphere for both you and your guests that can carry throughout your day. 

How can I have a first look?


There are all kinds of first look wedding ideas out there that you can tailor to your own wedding style. Your photographer will be the best person to talk through the details with, so be sure to explain what you were envisioning so that they can be prepared to capture the moment. You can have blindfolds, go back to back, or have one partner facing away while the other walks up, taps them on the shoulder and turns their partner around for the big reveal. There’s no wrong way to have a first look, so always feel free to make it your own.

The first look wedding tradition is rising in popularity because of the sweet, private moments it allows for on such a busy, whirlwind day. Having a first look can calm your nerves and refocus you on what brought you to this moment: the amount of pure love seeing your partner makes you feel.

Article written by Tori Ward
Victoria Ward is a writer at Simply Eloped as well as a Keats Marginalia scholar and Storyfort finalist for her fiction and creative nonfiction. When she is not writing about elopements, she writes grants for her research and non-profit work.

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