The Wedding Timeline: The First Look

The Wedding Timeline: The First Look

Last week in the wedding timeline series, I talked about getting ready for the day and what you can do to prepare for those moments to be as joy-filled and stress free as possible. Today is all about the first look, a modern tradition that took me a little while to be on board with – and now I am completely smitten!

The Wedding Timeline: The First Look
The Wedding Timeline: The First Look

For those who haven’t heard of a first look, it’s a moment where the bride and groom see each other prior to the wedding ceremony. For parents, grandparents, and even some young people this is almost unimaginable – they aren’t supposed to see each other before they’re married! However, after photographing many weddings with and without first looks, I am here to tell you why they are the best option on your wedding day.

When a bride and groom have a first look, all of their portraits are taken before the ceremony. We may sneak out for a few quiet minutes during the reception to capture sunset light, but other than that all of the portraits will be taken. In addition, having a first look allows us to capture all the bridal party portraits prior to the ceremony as well! So you can see what this means practically, here are two scenarios.

No First Look: Getting Ready-Groomsmen Pictures-Bridesmaid Pictures-Ceremony-Family Portraits-Bridal Party Portraits-Bride and Groom Portraits-Reception-Sunset Portraits (if there is enough time)

First Look: Getting Ready-First Look/Bride and Groom Portraits-Bridal Party Portraits-Ceremony-Family Portraits-Reception-Sunset Portraits

Do you see how much easier the second scenario is? When you set the first look and bride and groom portraits first (arguably the most important pictures you’ll have all day), your hair and makeup will be fresh, you will take all your pictures at the beginning of the day, and you’ll be able to go almost immediately to your reception.

From a timeline point of view, it just makes sense. However, what’s most important to me is not the timeline or the order, but the gift a first look gives a bride and groom.

On my wedding day, I barely got to spend time with Nathan. Even at the reception we were pulled our separate ways. When we finally got into the car to leave, I realized we had not been alone, just the two of us, the entire day save for a few brief moments here and there.

The Wedding Timeline: The First Look

A first look is an absolute gift and treasure. It is the only time a couple can guarantee that they will spend a few quiet moments alone on their wedding day. These are some of the most beautiful times I remember. The groom can actually look at his bride in her wedding dress and take it all in. The bride can be enjoyed and treasured, and see her future husband tear up at the sight of her. Of course I will be capturing these moments, but I always allow even a few minutes with no pictures, just so the couple can actually be together on their wedding day.

So this – the gift of time spent alone – is what it’s all about. A first look allows for a better timeline, easier logistics, and a less stressful day. But more than that, having a first look re-centers the wedding day on what it should be about – the marriage and lifelong relationship between two people finally becoming one.

And that is why I love first looks.

Advice from a Bride: Why I Changed My Mind About a First Look

The Wedding Timeline: The First Look

Maria Grace Photography

My name is Maria, and I am a wedding and family photographer based out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, but I am always excited about traveling. I love families who truly enjoy spending time with each other and living life together. I love couples that are looking forward to their wedding day because they are so excited to finally be married to.