Emily Snitzer » Blog

Should we do a first look? | Arizona Wedding Photographer


When I meet with a bride and groom for the first time, I almost always get asked about doing a “first look”. And if they don’t, I bring it up :) Should we do a first look? Why do it? Will it still be special when I walk down the aisle? Today I am going to talk all about the first look and why I LOVE em!

For those of you wondering… A first look is when the bride and groom choose to meet before the ceremony on their wedding day. We find a quiet spot where just the two will meet and see each other all done up and for the first time. It makes for a very special moment and a great photo op. After, we usually proceed into bride and groom portraits. Most of my clients now opt for the first look and I must say, I have never had anyone disappointed they did.

So let’s dig in. All the reasons I LOVE the “first look”…

1. You are able to enjoy the festivities after the ceremony. By doing a first look, you are able to do all the portraits with your honey and your wedding party before the ceremony. This means that once the ceremony concludes, the bride and groom are able to enjoy cocktail hour, visit with their guests, and partake in the celebration, like they should! All the while knowing they already got all the amazing pictures taken care of :)


2. You will be at your “freshest”. Make-up, hair, dress, and flowers will all be at their best for pictures when you do a first look. Because let’s face it, tears and sweat are all possible on your wedding day.


3. No rush. All of the portraits are taken care of before the ceremony and they are completed without the distraction of guests and family. It can sometimes be stressful (and hard) to steal the bride and groom away from family and friends after the ceremony for 1-2 hours of portraits. This can lead to pictures feeling a bit rushed and sometimes not getting as many shots.


4. More time with your love. Doing a first look gives you time, just the two of you, before guests arrives and the craziness of the day begins. We setup a quiet spot away from everything and it gives you the time to talk, kiss, connect, and lighten the stress and anxiety before it all begins. Once the ceremony arrives, it can be really hard to have a moment just the two of you. Vows, first kiss, and then you are swept away with your guests to celebrate. It is priceless to have that time alone during your wedding day to take it all in and just have a moment together. After all, this is your day and one of the most special of your lives. And as a first look bride myself, it is still 100% special when you walk down the aisle and see your future husband/wife. But you now get to remember two special moments of your day, your first look and your ceremony!


5. Because its time to kick this tradition. The tradition of not seeing each other until walking down the aisle actually stems from not seeing each other AT ALL, I MEAN EVER before the wedding. Yes, arranged marriages. eeewwww, let’s move on.


6. You would like a sunset ceremony. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful sunset ceremony? Especially for those in Arizona where we have the most colorful and amazing sunsets. Having enough natural light though is crucial to photography and my style of photography. Doing a first look allows you to plan your ceremony just before sunset because little natural light is needed after the ceremony since all of the pictures are complete. If you opt to not do a first look, just be sure you allow for 2 hours of pictures after the ceremony and before sunset.

Below are two sample schedules, one with and one without a first look. This helps get an idea of how much time to plan for all the portraits and how the two schedules differ. This is based on a 6pm sunset time.


Alternatives to a first look? If a first look is just not for you, I understand. I know it won’t work for everyone’s wedding day or traditions.

– Of course, you can plan for pictures after the ceremony. Just be sure to plan for two hours of pictures while there is enough natural light.
– Do a “day after” session where you get pretty, back into your dress and tux, and meet for pictures of the two of you after the wedding day.
– A first touch? :)

And I’ll close with this lovely blurp…

My favorite part of the day was finally seeing Jesse for the first time. We spent the night before apart and spent all morning and afternoon the next day preparing for the wedding so I definitely missed him. I was so excited to have him see me in my dress so when the time finally came I suddenly felt at ease. Emily created a “first look” moment for us before the ceremony and I’m so happy we went this route. I had to walk down the corridor of Inspirador with Jesse’s back to me, then I tapped him on the shoulder so he could turn around and see me. It was very romantic and personal. – Lauren

♥ Emily

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  • January 22, 2013 - 10:04 pm

    mckenzi - Awesome tips!! Great work. Beautiful photos!

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