Should I do a "first look"?

This is a question that every bride asks me. It is a big decision! The idea of a first look is somewhat new to the wedding schedule options, but it has no doubt become increasingly popular among many couples not only in Cincinnati, but around the world. There are many benefits that doing a first look provides, but there are also some disadvantages. Consider the following information when deciding what is best for you!

Pro: you can cry without worry of messing up your make-up

Often, a first look is a magical, emotion filled moment that is shared between you and your love. No doubt you have seen the beautiful first look images showing a couple standing back to back or the timeless photo of a groom smiling with anxious anticipation of his bride as she is slowly walking up behind him. Breathtaking! These tearful, sweet moments that are created just for the couple is a moment that is just for them. A moment just to breathe and look into each others eyes. These moments are often filled with tears of joy, laughter and romantic words of encouragement. Many couples even use this time to share a prayer with each other, read specially written love notes or give each other gifts.

Con: but my guests won't have the first look experience with us!!

Walking down the aisle and seeing each other for the first time, at that moment, is a tradition that family and friends, no doubt, anticipate and look forward to experiencing. Your guests are celebrating you and your love for each other. Waiting to see each other until the ceremony is often one of the favorite moments of a ceremony that your guests will cherish. They love seeing the genuine emotion, smiles and tears; especially if your grooms eyes start to water a little!

Pro: Take your planned party photos before the ceremony

A first look allows for your party, bride and groom and even family photos to be taken before the ceremony. Often, you can choose additional locations that you would like for photos. Many brides choose a local park, downtown city scape or nostalgic location in addition to their venue. Cincinnati has some amazing parks and venues for wedding party photos! Being able to finish your photos prior to the ceremony means that you and your guests will be able to go straight to the reception and continue the celebration without delay! Party and family photos can require a lot of time between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of your reception. Many couples opt for a cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres and entertainment. This is a wonderful treat for your guests, but you will most likely be in need of a refreshment or want to enjoy some time with your family and friends. Choosing to do a first look helps your timeline move smoothly and allows you uninterrupted time with your friends and loved ones.


Choosing to do a first look will require your photography schedule to be pushed up a few hours. This means that you will have to be fully dressed and finished with hair, make-up and other details at least 2-3 hours before the ceremony begins. This timeline, of course, depends on the size of your party and family. I prefer to have photos finished at least 30 - 45 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony so that you can refresh your hair and make up and tend to any other ceremony details that need to be handled. Plus, this gives you ample time to "hide" from your guests as they enter the venue. There are also some venues and churches in Cincinnati that will only allow you to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before your ceremony begins. Consider your preparation plans. Do you have a make-up artist for you and your girls? Do you have a hair stylist that will only be working with you? How much time does your prep team need in order to get everyone wedding ready? Consider your night before celebration plans! If you are planning on celebrating late into the night or early into the wedding day morning, an early start may pose a bit of a struggle. If you forego the first look, you, your party and family could sleep in a little longer and not feel rushed to be finished with preparations.