A Guide to the First Look | Memphis Wedding Photographer


Reasons to do a first look, Memphis wedding photographer

If you're asking yourself, what on earth is a first look, allow me to explain! It's a simple way of describing the moment when the bride and groom first see each other on their wedding day. It happens BEFORE the ceremony and kicks the day off! Let me tell you, IT. IS. AMAZING! 

Often brides are unsure if they want to break traditions and see each other before the ceremony. Let me assure you, this is the new tradition and it is here to stay! There are so many incredible benefits to doing a first look and I am excited to share them with you guys!  


What more could you ask for on your wedding day than it to be full of romance as the two of you celebrate one of the biggest days of your lives! The first look allows the couple time to be alone and together. This part is crucial, because on a day when family and friends are competing for your attention, this allows you time to talk, cry, hold each other, and giddy laugh because you're marrying your best friend! You cannot do that if you don't see each other until you walk down the aisle. As a photographer, I have the wonderful honor of witnessing these moments over and over. I'm usually off to the side wiping tears and smiling behind my camera like a goober because these moments are always incredible and I'll never grow tired of capturing them!

Reasons to do a first look, Memphis Wedding Photographer


If you're worried that you'll be nervous, which is normal and okay, the first look can completely eliminate those nerves! On a normal day, if you're anxious, who do you look to to calm you and give you a secure hug? I'm guessing it's the person you want to marry! So why should it be any different on your wedding day?! Let each other be the calm before a very long and exciting day!

Reasons for first look, groom reading vows


Today is about YOU TWO! When you wait to see each other until the ceremony, you've lost almost the entire day being separated and hidden from each other. Having a first look means that your wedding day was actually spent together! This alone sold me on doing a first look with my husband! Why would I NOT want to see him? I love the man and I want to be excited about OUR day TOGETHER! 

Reasons for a first look, Memphis wedding photography


As a photographer, my main goal is to capture your wedding in the most beautiful way possible! When we do the first look, it allows me time to find the best lighting, the most gorgeous location, and he/she can utilize your venue in the best way possible! This also means that if there is poor weather in the forecast, I can plan around it prior to the ceremony. Without a first look, you run the risk of not having ideal lighting or backgrounds for your portraits since there is a very specific timeframe for portraits. For the wedding below, we were able to do all of the portraits before the wedding AND take about 5 minutes for more portraits during sunset with no rush or obligation! The best of both worlds!

Reasons for a first look, Memphis wedding photography

5. IT SLOWS YOUR DAY DOWN (in the best way possible)

If you're planning a wedding, it's probable that at least one person has told you, "Take it all in, it goes by fast!" That is so very true! A wedding is a very fast experience and it's just one more pro to doing a first look! Having more time together slows the day down! We aren't having to rush photos and we can take our time and have fun! The last thing you want it to be rushed and stressed on your wedding day and the first look can help with that!

Reasons for a first look, Memphis wedding photography


I often hear from couples who are on the fence about doing a first look that they are worried it will take away from the big moment of walking down the aisle. I'm happy to report that not only does it not take away, but it ADDS to those special moments on your big day! When you don't see each other until the big walk down the aisle, you're sharing that intimate and exciting moment with everyone, it's no longer just the two of you. I often see brides opt out of the first look and then be disappointed when the groom didn't have the reaction she hoped for because he was too nervous to be emotional in front of all of their guests. Nerves are real, y'all! Do yourselves a favor and calm your nerves by seeing each other before. (Also, almost every groom that has done the first look still cries. It's just as special, if not more!) Walking down the aisle is a HUGE moment. And seeing each other before doesn't take away from that one bit!



Portraits and all of the details in between can take hours. When you decide not to do a first look, all of your bride and groom portraits, wedding party, and family portraits have to happen directly after the ceremony. You're probably thinking to yourself, "that sounds like a lot of photos!" And you are right! Unfortunately, your guests will spend at least an hour waiting for you to enter your own reception.

After you're married, all you want to do is celebrate with your guests, and that's exactly what you should be able to do! The first look allows for immediate celebration because all of the portraits are finished prior to the ceremony. Whoo-hoo! You can eat, party, and have the time of your life as you celebrate being a newlywed! 

Reasons for a first look, Memphis wedding photography

I'd LOVE to hear your story! Did you do a first look or did you guys wait to see each other? I want to hear all of the lovely details!

Here are some of my brides and their stories:

I am so happy I made the decision to do a first look on our wedding day. For one, we had an evening outdoor wedding so it would have been getting dark during our pictures if we would have waited to take them after our ceremony. As soon as our ceremony was over we got to go straight to our reception to get the party started! But the very best reason for doing a first look is having those special moments with each other before the craziness of the wedding events begin. It’s honestly one of the things I vividly remember from that day and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
— Jordon
I was totally against a first look because I wanted everything to be completely and 100% traditional. I am SO happy that Whitney persuaded us into doing one because it was so intimate and we had a little moment to ourselves before everyone else saw me for the first time. We even got to have both of our parents stand off to the side and witness this special moment. There were lots and lots of happy tears and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about the feeling that we both had when we first saw each other. First looks are the way to go! It eases so much of your worries and stresses and it gives you a little time to yourselves, because after all it IS your day!
— Katelyn
I had not initially planned on doing a first look, but having done it I wouldn’t change a thing! I have precious memories of our ceremony and reception, but some of my clearest and most treasured wedding memories of my husband and I are from the time we were able to spend together during our first look. We were able to spend sweet time with each other before the hustle of the ceremony and reception, and it also relieved some of the pre-wedding jitters and helped us be able to just enjoy the day together. Then we were able to focus reception time on enjoying our family and friends rather than taking pictures. I would highly recommend doing a first look to any bride!
— Regan
One of the best decisions we made for our wedding was to a do a first look before the ceremony. It allowed us to have a calming moment together with only the photographer before the ceremony and reception. We were able to get all of our wedding party and family photos finished beforehand so we could truly enjoy our guests at the reception! It was the only time we were able to spend with just us throughout the whole night and I’ll forever be thankful for that!
— Melloney
I really wanted my husband to see me for the first time as I was walking down the isle. With some persuasion my photographer convinced me that a first look would be just as special and just between us, so that’s what we did! The day of the wedding I was nervous and anxious and as I was hulled up getting ready it didn’t make it any better. When it was time for the first look, as I was walking to my husband with his back turned, I started feeling more relaxed. As we went through the shoot of just us I finally started having fun and my husband calmed my nerves. I’m so glad we had those moments before the wedding together! We didn’t get to spend much time during the wedding while we were attending to guests and activities so it meant a lot to have that time with him.

It also saved us a ton of time and headache and we got to eat right after the ceremony, so that was a bonus!
— Tylee
I had always planned on forgoing the “first look” trend and seeing Zach for the first time when I walked down the aisle. But wow am I glad that Whitney really encouraged us to have the first look! It ended up being the only time at our wedding we were one-on-one, and it took away so much of the built up tension and anxiousness we both had about seeing each other for the first time that day. We both teared up and hugged as we exchanged letters written to one another. The first look helped us both to feel more calm and connected to each other when the ceremony finally happened. It will always be one of my sweetest memories from our special day!
— Sarah
My first look was so sweet and romantic. I loved that we were able to see each other for the first time in a private more intimate setting. I also loved that after the ceremony we got to go straight to the reception and spend more time with all of our families and friends. It turned out perfect for us and made the day go even more seamlessly than i could have hoped for.
— Danielle