Your First Look Questions Answered including Why Do a First Look

what is a first look?

A ‘first look’ is an opportunity for the couple to see each other at some point before the ceremony. About 80 percent of the couples I work with opt for a first look, and the trend is higher each year. If you don’t have your heart set on seeing each other for the first time that day when you walk down the aisle, a first look is a great way to share a private moment before walking down the aisle and exchanging vows in front of an audience.

wait, isn’t that bad luck?

This superstition is a carry over from the days of arranged marriages when weddings were often a business transaction between families. Keeping the couple from seeing each other, was one way to ensure the groom couldn’t back out or call off the wedding. It’s also why brides wore a veil down the aisle, further concealing her identity until the last moment! How romantic, right?

why do a first look?

When I first started shooting weddings, my background in photojournalism made me a little skeptical of shooting a ‘staged’ event like a first look. But I quickly realized that the moment a couple sees each other is one of the most real parts of the entire day. We’ve since figured out the perfect balance for making awesome first look photos.

Of course, a first look isn’t for everyone, and I’ll never judge a couple that decides not to see each other until the ceremony. It’s your wedding and I’ll be there to tell your story, no matter how you decide to plan the day. However, here’s a list of a few advantages, based on my experience.

You get to see each other

This sounds pretty obvious, but it’s easy to forget. A quiet moment with your partner can be the perfect way to calm some pre-wedding nerves. Wedding days are a whirlwind and being able to talk with your spouse-to-be can be helpful. Once you’ve seen each other, you’ll feel (and look) more relaxed.

More time for portraits

The most common reason couples prefer to do a first look is so that they have more time to visit a few portrait locations with their wedding party. Seeing each other ahead of time means we won’t be rushed and you don’t need to schedule a long gap between the ceremony and reception. As a bonus, your hair & makeup will be super fresh.

You won’t miss your cocktail hour

If you’re waiting to see other until the ceremony, that means the formal family group photos can’t happen until after the ceremony is finished. So while you might be okay to skip most of your cocktail hour, remember that we’ll need your immediate family during that time as well.


Not everyone likes being the center of attention, even on their wedding day. If you don’t like the thought of being emotional in front of your entire guest list, a first look is an opportunity to share an intimate moment privately. Ironically, that can be a rare treat on a wedding day. 

Winter Logistics

If you’re getting married in the winter months, the days are shorter. In Chicago, sunset can be well before 5pm. That means we have limited time to make outdoor photos. Unless you’re having a ceremony that ends an hour or two before sunset, we won’t have any daylight left for portraits.

You can get ready together

If you have a wedding party with close mutual friends or if you’d just rather spend the morning together, that’s totally cool. If you want to keep things low-key and chill, there’s no rule that says you can’t all hang out together. One of my favorite wedding moments was David & Emmett having a toast with their best ladies before we left the hotel together.

any downside or reasons not to do a first look?

If you have a plan for seeing each other as you walk down the aisle, and nothing on the list above changed your feelings – that’s great! I want every couple to plan the day that suits them. In the interest of full disclosure, there’s a couple of things I should mention.

The dress might not stay perfect

I can’t guarantee that your dress will be perfectly pristine as you walk down the aisle. We’ll obviously make sure you aren’t standing in mud, but let’s be honest, if we’re outdoors the dress will pick up some of the environment. If that sounds horrifying, a first look probably isn’t for you.

You might have to touch up your makeup

Spending a few hours outside in the Chicago summer humidity can be tough on even the best makeup artist’s work. If you anticipate kissing and/or crying, you may want to allow a few minutes in the timeline for touchups.

First look light isn’t golden hour light

Most wedding day timelines put us with a first look in the middle of the day, when the sun can be less than flattering. We’ve got lots of tricks and experience to make great pictures in any situation. But nothing beats the magic of golden hour light. Even if you do a first look, we love stealing a few minutes later in the evening to make a few portraits if we can.

pricing info
Wedding collections start at $3,900, which includes
– two photographers (for up to 12 hours)
– high res digital images with release
– online image gallery for viewing and print ordering

Just fill out the form on the right to check availability for your date and I’ll get back to you with some more information.

Not getting married in Chicago? No problem! I’ve photographed couples in Mexico, Paris and more than a dozen other states. I’d love to meet you at your destination.
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