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“First Look” :: Yes or No?

Colorado wedding photographer, Laura Gravelle, is considered a top Denver wedding photographer for Colorado weddings such as Estes Park, Vail, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Keystone, Beaver Creek and all destination weddings. You can contact Laura for all Colorado weddings, to be your Denver wedding photographer, and for destination weddings by emailing Please look around to see why brides planning Colorado weddings choose Laura Gravelle as their Colorado wedding photographer and Denver wedding photographer.

I always provide brides with a timetable for their wedding photography. One of the biggest factors in determining the timing of the wedding day is whether or not a bride and groom opt to do a “First Look.” You might be saying, “what is that?”

first look for bride and groom on wedding day

I found a very helpful article by Robert and Kathleen Photographers from the Style Me Pretty, New York website, that outlines why it is beneficial to choose a “First Look.”


The “First Look”

They’ve become more popular, but there are still a lot of couples that shy away from seeing one another before the ceremony. We totally understand your apprehension. You’re thinking that if you see one another before the ceremony it will be less emotional when you walk down the aisle. Not true. A lot of my couples have done ”First Looks” and I can say with complete certainty that I have never seen the couple less emotional when they see each other walking down the aisle. It’s usually exactly the opposite. When they see each other during the “First Look” it’s usually teary-eyed about how amazing they both look, how amazed they are that the day has finally arrived. Then when they see each other during the ceremony, the tears start to flow, each of them realizing that the walk down the aisle means that this is all actually happening: they are about to be married. How could you not get emotional?

“First Looks” should especially be considered if you’re in any of the following situations:

Your Ceremony and Reception are at the Same Location
Why? Because you have probably picked a gorgeous location that is perfect for both events of your day and you want to be able actually enjoy the grounds as much as your guests, soaking in the views while you stroll around sipping champagne. When the ceremony and reception are at the same place, the end of the ceremony is inevitably going to flow directly into cocktail hour. Your guests have no where else to go and your venue is going to want to keep them entertained. The idea of leaving all of your guests right after the ceremony to head off for pictures will probably seem incredibly difficult.Even more, leaving yourself with only an hour to do all the pictures of the two of you,your family and your wedding party is WAY too tight. So, if you see each other before the ceremony you can take the majority of your pictures (possibly even all of your family and wedding party pictures) ahead of time, leaving you will plenty of time to greet your guests and actually eat some of that delicious cocktail hour food. Of course, if you want to grab a few shots directly after your ceremony you can do that too. But getting most of the pictures done beforehand is a great way to ensure that you will have that same relaxing experience as all of your guests.

first look for bride and groom on wedding day

You Don’t Want a Large Gap of Time Between the Ceremony and the Reception
If the idea of having two or three hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of cocktail hour is way too much for you, you don’t have to do it. But you’re probably still going to want amazing pictures and the best way to make this possible is to give your photographers the time they need to make that happen. Most photographers will say they need about an hour minimum to photograph the bride and groom and wedding party and then about 30 minutes for family photos (depending on the size of the family). If you do the first look, you can schedule all that time before your guests even arrive at the church making sure the time in between the end of the ceremony and cocktail can be much shorter, without jeopardizing any time for photos.

first look for bride and groom in wheelchair on wedding day

You’re Getting Married Before Daylight Savings Begins or After it Ends and You Want Pictures Outside
Why? One word: light. It’s the photographer’s best friend. Let’s say you’re getting married November 12.  Sunset for that day is scheduled to be about 4:45pm. Your ceremony is supposed to start at 3pm and end at 4pm. That leaves you with about 45 minutes of daylight for pictures, assuming you don’t do a receiving line and jump right into taking pictures the minute the ceremony ends. Again, WAY too tight. If you do a “First Look,” you can select a location for your pictures, gather together your wedding party (and even family if you would like) and ensure that your Fall wedding still has plenty of pictures with the foliage even if the sun sets a bit earlier than it did a few weeks before.

first look for bride and groom on wedding day

As a photographer, I love when a couple chooses to do a “First Look.” The day usually runs smoother and I find that couples seem less stressed once they have seen each other. Plus, you can be with each other for more hours on your special day!

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For brides planning Colorado weddings, please contact me to be your Colorado wedding photographer by emailing I am a Denver wedding photographer and for destination weddings in the mountains like Estes Park, Beaver Creek, Aspen, Vail, Keystone and Colorado Springs.

Breann Bonga via Facebook - June 29, 2011 - 2:47 pm

We seen each other before the ceremony. I like it b/c we had “our” special time to see each other, not during the ceremony when every one is watching and it felt like we enjoyed the wedding/ reception since our group photos were already done! Wasn’t stressful where we had to hurry to get anywhere! We had a TON of picture of the 2 of us together!!

Lindsey Kern via Facebook - June 29, 2011 - 4:02 pm

Thank you for this blog post!! I am a bride to be and have been going back and forth over to do or not to do!

Laura Gravelle Photography via Facebook - June 29, 2011 - 4:06 pm

Your welcome Lindsey! Seeing each other or not seeing each – either way, your day will be so special. I waited to see my husband 8 years ago until the aisle, but I was a nervous wreck! My bouquet was shaking because I was trembling so much! I would totally do a first look if I could redo it. It would have alleviated some of those nerves and I might have been able to focus more! Plus, our ceremony wasn’t until 6 pm, so most of our wedding day was spent apart. I’d love to hear what you end up deciding!

Lindsey Kern via Facebook - June 29, 2011 - 4:07 pm

Actually… I think I should be thanking you for talking my mom into the first look! LOL. I was REALLY leaning towards it. I think it’s such an intimate moment! My best friend was married a year ago and her piece of advice was to take 15 minutes of just Kyle and I time… I can’t think of any more perfect of a time! :)

Laura Gravelle Photography via Facebook - June 29, 2011 - 4:59 pm

Ha Ha! Glad to be a help! I definitely agree with your friend. Sometimes my couples will do a first look and then take 10-15 minutes of alone time before we start formal photos. I wish I would have done that!

Best Wedding Photography at Denver Country Clubs - December 7, 2011 - 10:47 am

[...] The First Look – Scott and Audrey seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day. The looks on their faces say it all! [...]