what is a first look?

first look is a time for the couple to see each other before the wedding ceremony. About 85 percent of the couples that I work with end up doing a first look and it seems that more do it each year. A first look is a great way to get the nerves of the day overwith and enjoy a private moment together before exchanging vows in front of an audience at the ceremony.

Hold on, isn’t that bad luck?

This old fashioned tradition comes from the days of arranged marriages when weddings were a business transaction. By not allowing the couple to see each other, the groom couldn’t call off the wedding. Brides also wore veils down the aisle to hide their identity until the last possible second. How romantic, right?

Boreas Pass first look

why do a first look?

Coming from a photojournalism background I was a little unsure about photographing staged things like this. However, I quickly realized that the moment the couple sees each other is actually one of the most real parts of the day. Over time we’ve developed the perfect balance of capturing amazing first look photos.

A first look isn’t for everyone and I’ll never push it on a couple who has their heart on waiting to see each other until the ceremony. It’s important that you enjoy your wedding day. I’ll be there to tell the story of your day no matter how it unfolds. However, here’s a list of the advantages I see for why you should consider a first look, based on my experience.

You can get rid of the nerves

Much of the day’s anticipation is built up around the moment the two of you will see each other. All of that tension is eliminated once you lock eyes for the first time. A first look allows you to see each other earlier in the day and as a result you can enjoy more of the day together. 

Piney River Ranch first look in front of the Gore range in Vail

More time for portraits

One of the most common reasons couples opt for a first look is so that there is more time for portraits. Seeing each other before the ceremony means we can visit a couple portrait locations. You won’t need to schedule a long gap between the ceremony and reception. Pro tip, your hair and makeup will still be super fresh.

You can still enjoy cocktail hour

I’m sure you’ve been to a family member’s wedding where the couple spent all of cocktail hour taking photos. By doing a first look, you’ll have more time to enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family because we’ve already completed most of the  formal family group photos. You might not mind skipping your cocktail hour but don’t forget that we’ll need most of your immediate family during that time as well.


Most people don’t like to be the center of attention, even on their wedding day. If you would rather avoid all eyes on you when you see each other a first look is a perfect solution. Oddly enough, a private moment together on the wedding day is a rare treat.

The bride and groom during their first look at Breckenridge resort

Beat the weather

The weather in Colorado can be unpredictable, especially in the mountains. Opting for a first look means that we can capture portraits of the couple as well as wedding party and family photos befre the ceremony. That way if the weather turns foul after the ceremony you’ll still have outdoor pictures. We can often find a five minute window to sneak in a couple’s portrait outside between the storms but it’s almost impossible to capture large group photos in the middle of dinner.

Winter logistics

If your wedding falls during the off season (November-March), the days are shorter. In Denver, sunset can be well before 5pm, and it’s even earlier in the mountains. That means we have limited time to capture outdoor pictures after the ceremony. Unless your ceremony finishes an hour or two before sunset, we won’t have daylight left for portraits.

The bride and Groom embrace under an umbrella and surrounded by a rainbow on the rooftop during their Room 1520 wedding in Chicago

any downside not to do a first look?

The dress might not remain pristine

Unless you stay inside until you walk down the aisle, your dress might not stay perfect. Obviously we won’t have you standing in mud, but let’s be honnest, if we’re outside the dress may pick up some of the environment. If that terrifies you, a first look probably isn’t for you.

You makeup might need a touchup

If you’re a crier, your makeup will probably need a touch up throughout the day. Whether that’s after first look or the ceremony make sure you have supplies to stay looking your best.

First look doesn’t happen during golden hour

Most wedding day timelines force us with a first look in the middle of the day, which isn’t the most flattering light. Our experience and talent allows us to make great photos in any situation but nothing beats the magic of golden hour light. Even if you do a first look, we always try to steal you away for a few minutes during the evening for a few portraits nearby.