First Looks

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….they might possibly be the best new wedding trend out there. When I first heard about doing a “First Look” I thought to myself…”that’s cool… but I’ll NEVER do it for my own wedding”.  Ohh I can be SO wrong sometimes! Not only did Michael and I share a First Look on our wedding day, I also encourage ALL of my couples to do one as well! First Looks are amazing and SO incredibly helpful to photographers! I have had several photographers ask about First Looks recently and so I thought that maybe I should do an Ask Anything post about them! I’m definitely not a pro at shooting them but I have had more couples

opt for the First Look this year than I expected and I LOVED IT!  So, there are several reasons why brides do NOT want to do First Looks: 1. Momma won’t approve 2. The Bride wants that “AH!” moment to be when she is coming down the aisle and 3. It’s just too non-traditional.


Well, my answer to brides that are unsure  is this…. 1. I know you love your Momma, but if this is something you want to do, it’s your wedding and you should go for it! 2. I understand wanting him to be totally shocked and in awe of you as you come down the aisle…that’s understandable, I wanted that too! The thing is, he is going to be “in awe” of you coming down the aisle no matter what! Michael still bawled when I came down the aisle, even though we had seen each other before the ceremony. That moment is so incredible and it doesn’t lose that special feeling if you see each other before hand…. believe me! Michael would tell you that even though we saw each other beforehand, when I came through the back doors of the church and walked down the aisle, it was still one of the most powerful moments of our ceremony! and 3.  True, this is a VERY non-traditional concept but it’s AMAZING for several reasons:


1. Your guests will not have to wait over an hour for you to arrive at your reception! When a bride and groom wait to do ALL of their portraits after the ceremony, (family, bridal party, romantic portraits and then travel to the reception) that usually takes an hour and a half, sometimes longer if the couple wants a ton of awesome portraits of just the two of them! Because this is so time consuming, it often leads to rushed portraits and can cause a little stress for the Bride and Groom because they aren’t enjoying their portraits together, they are worrying about their guests having to WAIT.


2. A first look allows you to have time with JUST your husband.  When couples decide to see each other for the first time in private, it is an emotional moment that the two of them share and it’s so incredibly intimate. I get to stand off to the side and document it! This is a time for the couple to love on each other, for the groom to tell his bride how STUNNING she is and this moment serves as an once in a lifetime photo opportunity!  What most brides don’t realize is that when a bride walks down the aisle, her man may think she looks fabulous, but he is unable to tell her that until AFTER the ceremony! The first look allows couples to embrace and just be together for a few minutes on their wedding day and that is priceless!!


3. Couples that choose a first look always end up with 40% more portraits than those who do not opt for the First Look AND the bride’s makeup is still in tact (sometimes tears from the ceremony can require a makeup touchup and this can take close to 15 minutes of time).


4. It calms nerves…. BIG TIME. This is huge for the groom.  Almost ALL grooms that have experienced a First Look admit that seeing their bride beforehand eases the wedding day jitters and allows them to relax and actually enjoy their ceremony! (Michael would agree!)


5. Last but not least, a First Look is the answer to the wedding day timeline crisis!  It creates ample portrait time and allows the bride and groom to celebrate freely.


Attention all  late fall, winter and early spring brides…. you will most likely run out of natural light for portraits after your ceremony….a First Look is a great solution for this issue!! Right Brit?! (My fabulous January Bride that is doing a first look! Can’t wait!!)  While I LOVE first looks, I never pressure my couples into doing them. I always tell them all of the reasons why it’s a smart decision but if they really aren’t interested, I drop it. It’s their wedding day! It’s my job to make them happy and to help them plan a great time-line for pictures, but ultimately, it’s their decision.


Whew! I could go on and go. Really, I could! I LOVE first looks and I love how much my couples appreciate them afterwards! It is definitely a HUGE decision but I have never had a couple that wasn’t THRILLED that they decided to go for it! Enjoy some of my fav first looks!

This is STILL one of my most memorable first looks! Jared and Lauryn were my FIRST couple to decide to try one and it was breathtaking! I cried… yes, I cried… I always cry once or twice on wedding days,  I can’t help it!

Isaac and Kristin had a TON of portraits on their wedding day because of their first look!

Loved Chris and Katie’s first look as well…. it was also a tear jerker!

Awww.. Anna and Justin… I grew up with Anna so watching her see her husband for the first time was unreal… I was bawling. It’s amazing these were in focus!

Alison and Manny’s was definitely a favorite:)

Buddy + Jill

Last but not least…. a shot from OUR first look!! Jas, I love you!

And then we went straight into our portraits and I LOVED IT!!!! And I’m still a little obsessed with our wedding pictures… so I’m showing a few of them AGAIN! … Because I can:)

xoxo, Katelyn
17 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Lauryn reply

    YAY!!! I love first looks! :-) You wont regret it!

  2. Laura reply

    Awesome!! Thanks for sharing this :)

  3. stephanie b reply

    Andrew and I talk about the first look almost every day – I think we are coming close to a decision. My vote is first look ALL THE WAY!

  4. Ashley Daniell reply

    I did a first look and I LOVE when my brides do them too!! Your reasons are great and some of them I hadn’t thought about before. Thank you for this article – I will definitely be referring to this for future brides!!

  5. JasmineStar reply

    LOVE this post!! Get on with your bad self!! ;)

  6. Anna Burke reply

    Amen, girl! Justin would TOTALLY agree that we were soooooo glad we did this! There was no waiting for the reception whatsoever, and we got to get most of our tears out before the wedding. You clearly know there were many more tears (once because I looked at you and you were BAWLING!) :) Thanks again for all of our awesome portraits that make our home the KJ photography shrine! LOVE YOU!

  7. Cat Watson reply

    Great post! Just having shot my first wedding where the couple didn’t opt to have one, I definitely agree that a First Look would’ve helped so much. Will definitely be telling future brides the benefits of this. Thanks for sharing!

  8. emilyrosscook reply

    ever since I’ve begun to follow your blog and photography I’ve been a fan of the “first look”. i love the idea and think its such a SMART way to budget your time on your wedding day! i recommend it to my friends ALL THE TIME! love the photos – keep them coming!

  9. Rebekah reply

    I so so so wish I would have done a first look, because Katelyn, as you stated, we were so rushed after our ceremony and only got four portrait shots of my Husband and I :-( I was so disappointed when I got our pictures back. However, now I get to do a trash the dress session with Katelyn and relive my BIG day by the beach!!!! I just wish my photographer would have suggested a first look session, because I think it is a wonderful way to capture the true emotion of the Groom seeing his Bride for the FIRST time!!! Trust me I have already told my two sisters to do first look sessions on their wedding day :-) Amazing post as always Katelyn

  10. Brittany reply

    Yay! RIGHT! I am so stoked for our first look [I can almost say] NEXT month!

  11. Suzanne reply

    Okay.. just bawled through that post. Anna and Justin’s by far the most touching!!!!!!

  12. Britne reply

    Oh my goodness….these are wonderful!!! This post makes me want to get married so bad. These moments are so wonderful to see. I love this…so so much!

  13. Dennis Bullock reply

    Well said Katelyn! I recommend a first look to all my clients and hope they all opt for it!

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