We’re getting so close to our wedding and it’s been way too long since I’ve written a Wedding Wednesday post! We’re at the point where most of the aesthetic decisions have been made and now it’s all about logistics. We’ll be working with a month of planner who’s going to help us iron out a timeline for our wedding weekend but I’ve started thinking about all the nitty gritty details: where I’ll change into my dress, where we’ll take getting ready pictures, how we’ll get from point A to point B, etc.

One thing I know we’ll be doing is a first look. Our ceremony is in the late afternoon and our reception has to end by a certain time due to strict noise regulations, so once we started working backwards, we realized that taking pictures after the ceremony would significantly cut into the time we’re able to spend at our own reception. And we both want to spend as much time as possible with the family and friends who will have flown from far and wide to celebrate with us on Nantucket!

So instead we’re planning on a first look a few hours before the ceremony and then taking the majority of our photos before heading to the chapel together with our bridesmaids and groomsmen. (Our photographer Cameron also suggested sneaking off to the beach for a few minutes during golden hour to take pictures once we’re actually married, which I think is a must!) While I love the idea of Will seeing me in my dress for the first time happening as I walk down the aisle, it just isn’t realistic for our timeline and I think we can make the first look moment just as magical.

I’d love to whether whether you did or would do a first look with your significant other on your wedding day. Do tell!

*images one / two / three



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  1. My husband and I chose to do a first look at our wedding last month and I’m so glad we did! Our ceremony was at 4:30 in the afternoon with our reception starting around 6pm, so the first look allowed us to share a mini-meal together of the dinner that would be served to our guests before joining the party. Having quiet time with just the two of us built into the day helped us to be more present, and also made for beautiful, unrushed portraits.

    1. Also, photography is such a wondeful investment! We had a blast doing ours, and I will cherish them forever. If you have an amazing photographer – we had Ruth Eileen Photography out of Boston, a gem! – it will be fun and will make for lifetime memories. I do not regret a second of the time we dedicated to portraits! 🙂

  2. We did a first look and I wouldn’t change a thing. We still had “the moment” but it was just a bit before the ceremony. It extended the time we got to be together by a solid 2 hours too since we didn’t have to wait for the ceremony. Having the pictures complete and being able to join right in the celebrations was also amazing.

  3. I’m getting married on Saturday and the one must I’ve had since we got engaged (two and a half years ago!) was a first look. When the day is done the photos are all you have and I want to have as many as possible! It also allows us to join cocktail hour and frees up our wedding party earlier to enjoy themselves as well! Plus, I love Tim a lot and this is going to be the best day ever, and I really want to spend as much time as possible with him on our best day ever 🙂 Walking down the aisle on my dad’s arm to Tim is going to be just as special seeing each other before as it would have been if we didn’t. I also love the idea of having moments that are just for us two! We’re not exchanging gifts but have vow notebooks that we’re writing each other letters and our vows in and we’ll be exchanging those when we see each other. I’m going to be a mess! But it’s a moment that’ll be just for the two of us and I can’t wait for it!!

  4. YES! A first look is a must. The day is insane and the 20 minutes that you have together before the crazy starts is SO nice. I definitely recommend it!

  5. While we didn’t do a first look for our big day, we totally would have given similar time restrictions for photos relative to the ceremony, reception, and available daylight! I’ve always thought first look photos end up looking so lovely, and I am sure it will be such a special moment for you two! LOVE that pic of Ali and Patrick (can’t believe how short his hair was – lol)! Happy Wednesday, lady!

  6. I got married last year and we did a first look! While I love the idea of the first time you see each other being as you walk down the aisle, logistically it would really mess up the timing of everything, so I definitely recommend a pre-ceremony first look. Also it makes for really great photos in an intimate setting with just the two of you. I think the first look gives you more relaxed time for photos and will allow you to spend some pre-wedding time together which is a special time!

  7. My husband and I had a first look and we are so glad we did! We were initially against it, but after talking through logistics and realizing we would be losing sunlight after the ceremony, we decided to do it. My photographer gave me some great advice – do your first look without your veil, so that when you walk down the aisle, you have something different and special and it will still sort of be a “first look” in your entire bridal ensemble!

  8. Here’s my two cents: it’s YOUR day. Do exactly what you want. You
    Don’t get a ton of those in life. However if you’re asking for opinions. Here goes:

    Decide for yourself and your man what would be special for you. I am certain with your professional situation you’ve got an excellent photographer. My advice is limit the photo session. You can only frame or put in a book so many photos. We have 3 on our wall and probably 50 in a book. Dont make your spouse (unless he’s a real rare gem of a man) take 30 minutes of photos. Don’t make your wedding party do 89 poses. You will literally do nothing with these photos and they just serve to wear everybody out. A good photographer will tell you if they’ve “got it.” All 3 of the photos on the wall of my husband and I are candid shots. So there’s my advice. I know you’re under a certain amount of pressure with the blog but don’t let photos overtake the day. Be there. Trust your photographer is getting the experience. I once went to a wedding where we did a solid hour of photos before wedding. It wears out your bridesmaids. Buzz kill.

  9. We didn’t do one and I am so happy we didn’t. I totally get the logistical benefits of doing one but the moment where they opened the church doors and we saw each other for the first time was so amazing. We had an afternoon wedding, a cocktail hour, and then our reception and the cocktail hour was designed for us to not be there for most of it so we could talk our pictures. I will say at the end of the pictures, I was starting to get anxious to get to the party but for us it was worth it!

  10. We had to do first look because our wedding was on the shortest day of the year and we would run out of daylight! My photographer told us you can never take away that moment of walking down the aisle whether we’d seen each other or not – just as special – and I loved that! She was right 🙂

  11. I just got married and am so happy we did a first look. This way, we had a couple hours together before the ceremony, which helped us both relax and also allowed us to spend more time with our bridal party. On the flip side, my friend did not do one and said it made her walk down the aisle really special and emotional for both of them. I don’t think you can go wrong either way!

  12. I completely agree a First Look is important. It is a time for just the two of you before all the “action” starts. Once the ceremony gets started, there is a momentum that can not be stopped until your head hits the pillow at the end of the night. Well-intentioned guests are going to want to grab your attention and wish you the best and really there is no guarantee of an alone moment once you walk down that aisle. And that is the way it should be. A first look is a guaranteed time alone where emotions and words can be shared that I guarantee you will never forget. It may end up being one of your favorite times/memories during the day 🙂

  13. We did a first look and it was great. We had planned on my husband giving me my bouquet at the first look but we forgot! (That would be a really romantic idea). I also recommend doing it away from your bridal party so that no one can see you. Our venue was really small and there wasn’t really anywhere to hide so everyone was watching through the windows.

  14. I’m getting married in October and we also plan on doing a first look. I want to actually BE at my wedding and not spend the whole time taking posed pictures instead of celebrating with my new husband and guests.

  15. I’m probably in the minority for saying this, but I’m so glad my husband and I didn’t do a first look. We’re pretty traditional though. We wavered back and forth, but in the end I wanted to base our decision on what we truly wanted, not what would work best logistically. We had a detailed schedule for our photographer that outlined all the pictures we wanted after the ceremony and appointed a “wrangler” to get everybody in place quickly so we really streamlined the process in about 30min. I honestly think the build up and excitement of waiting behind closed doors, with the music playing and waiting in anticipation to see your groom for the first time surrounded by friends in family is absolutely priceless. You only get that chance one time. I love going to weddings and seeing brides faces when they see their grooms at the end of the aisle for the first time. It’s pure happiness!

  16. My husband and I are both introverts, so the idea of having all our guests staring at us while we saw each other in our wedding finery for the first time sounded awful! The first look was a good way to emotions out of the way in private (plus the photographer, of course). I felt more comfortable and present during the ceremony having already had the special first look with my groom beforehand.

    Our first look photos are treasured by me. You can see our raw emotions, and it felt very us. We did sort of first look photos with my brothers, too. It was by accident, but I love their faces in those! Also, it’s a HUGE relief to get the posed photos over with before the ceremony. I loved being able to go right into our cocktail hour with guests after the ceremony, and not worry about having all my family rounded up for photos.

  17. I’m a wedding planner, and the couples I work with are always either strongly in one camp or the other when it comes to first looks. I was just talking to one of my friends who got married in October of last year, and I loved what she had to say about her first look. She mentioned how much both she and her now husband LOVED their photographer, but she kindly asked her to make herself scarce during the first look. They wanted the moment to feel natural rather than forced, and her husband was turned around so she could walk into the room but that was it. They didn’t do any posed shots at all, and their photographer just allowed them to enjoy the moment “privately” and express all of the emotions they wanted to express without any expectations or posed photos after. As a planner, I COMPLETELY agree about your timeline! The other thing you may want to do is assign a family member who is not in your wedding party (cousin, maybe?) on your side and Will’s side as your go-to for wrangling family members for photos. You will be busy, and your photographer does not know everyone. Having someone else helping to gather everyone together, making sure everyone is on the same page in terms of time and details, etc will be super helpful!

  18. I like the idea of doing a first look. I think it would be really meaningful to have that first look be a personal, private moment between just the two people getting married.

  19. i didn’t do a first look and have no regrets about it. we did have a “first moment” where my husband and i stood around the corner from each other before our ceremony (i’m sure you’ve see photos of something similar – happy to share if you want more info). we did a prayer and got to squeeze hands and have a private moment but he still didn’t see me. it was so special. the photos afterward did not take too long and it worked out. wouldn’t change what we did for a minute!

  20. We did one and it was the best! We wanted more time with friends and family and my husband really wanted to enjoy the cocktail we planned haha. Also, the last thing I wanted to do after getting married was take a bunch of pictures – it was such a relief to only take a few family shots and then go celebrate! We also did a few portraits during golden hour a little later and it was such a nice break to have some one on one time and I love the pics. Good luck with the rest of planning!

  21. We did a first look and I’m SO glad we did for all the photos we got to take before the ceremony/reception. As you said, it allowed us to spend more time with friends/family at our wedding and took pressure off for photos in general. (We did family pics before, not after, the ceremony which I also recommend.)

    The only thing I thought was kind of dumb (honestly) was all the hype around the ACTUAL very “first look” , you know? It was like “Stand here! Close your eyes! Don’t look! Turn around!” Idk man, I’ve seen other people have cute pics from that concept (like the bottom one you posted above) but to us it felt forced. It was like everyone watching us look at and evaluate each other. Just not my scene. Maybe your photographer can think of a way to set it up to make it more natural 🙂

  22. My fiancé hasn’t had too many strong opinions during the wedding planning process, but one of them was that he did not want to see me until I walked down the aisle in the church, so we are not doing a first look. We’ll take some photos with our respective parties & parents before mass & do the rest during our 1.5 hour break after the ceremony before cocktail hour starts at the reception venue. I & our photographer think we’ll be fine on time for photos, especially because our wedding is in November, so depending on weather, we may not be able to take photos outside. Our reception venue, a former men’s club in downtown Chicago turned hotel, was selected partially because of the many beautiful areas we could use inside fit photos. When I worried about fitting everything in, my mom reminded me that the candid photos of the day will be just as special as the posed ones. Can’t wait to see the photos of your big day!

  23. You should definitely do what works best for you and your timeline! The last thing you want is to be stressing out about timing, lighting, or missing your party!

    We had a later in the day ceeremony, too (4 pm!) followed by an evening reception…and we were married in December, so sunset was at 4:45 on our wedding day!
    My now-husband was absolutely adamant that he did not want to do a first look, so we didn’t. Instead, we did our solo portraits, I did my photos with my parents, ‘maids, etc. before heading to the church, we had the ceremony, and then we did a handful of portrait-type photos just ourselves and with our combined families at the church and inside the venue (at a vineyard, wall of barrels, it was great).
    It might not be for everyone, but we actually ended up getting back in our wedding clothes the next afternoon to do our outside photos together! It was easy for me because I did a simple hairstyle that I could replicate (plus I had a veil in) so it more or less looks like the same day.
    I don’t regret the extra hassle of putting our clothes back on to do photos the next day (we had our honeymoon a few weeks later so it wasn’t an issue) and the photos of him in the church the first moment I walked in were pretty magical- BUT, I think it probably would have been the same magic no matter where we did the first look!

  24. We did a first look sort of because a Jewish wedding traditionally includes seeing each other before the ceremony, but also for logistical reasons! We agreed we wanted our photos done before the wedding so we could enjoy some alone time for 10-15 min after the ceremony and then join cocktail hour.

    Also seeing each other before the ceremony allowed me to totally lose the anxiety. Getting ready is a little bit of a blur because I was so focused on getting there and getting ready, but once I was in my dress and about to see my husband for the first time, all those butterflies went away and I felt so calm and in the moment. I also know from working as a catering manager/wedding coordinator that a first look makes things MUCH easier on the timeline (though I don’t use that as a sole reason for a first look).

    We both weren’t fans of the shoulder tap first look where I come up behind him, so we found an alternative! We stood on opposite sides of the corner and exchanged cards before coming around to see each other. So sweet and it made it a little easier for photo/video. Here’s a pic!

  25. As a fellow engaged reader, I’m 100% for the first look! I think it will make the day so much less stressful (more time for pictures, less sneaking around trying to hide me from my future husband, etc).

    Also, as a shy person, I love the idea of the first look being a more intimate moment between the two of us (and the photographer, I guess, haha), rather than with everyone. We have the rest of the day to celebrate with our familiy and friends – I know I will treasure a moment for just us. 🙂

  26. We’re doing a first look! It helps with our timeline, and I’ve heard that it doesn’t take away from the aisle moment at all, and is so special to spend a little time together!

  27. I’m doing a first look for my wedding in October! I love the idea of being able to capture the moment when we first see each other before we’re married…it seems like such a special moment 🙂

  28. Yes absolutely do it! We did all our pictures before and it helped so much with the timeline. The first look is a sweet and private moment, and it still felt very special walking down the aisle. All your guests haven’t seen you yet so there is still that energy in the room!

  29. Best choice ever, girl! We didn’t do a first look and it is my only regret. I was so adamant on “that look” you get walking down the aisle. Well I didn’t realize you’re so far away from your groom you can barely see his face [or I was at least]. I was a bundle of nerves and maybe that’s why I couldn’t make out his face. After we were married we were so incredibly giddy and just wanted to go celebrate. Taking photos for 45-minutes after the ceremony just seemed frustrating because we wanted to just soak up the bliss together. I know those photos are incredibly important, but I think more important would have been the photos we could have gotten from a first look. I also had this weird feeling during my wedding like I was barely seeing Paul. We had 600 guests, or so, so we were both being pulled in different directions. I wish we had had 5 minutes together for a first look, to calm nerves and to just enjoy being with one another.

    All of that rambling to say, I’m so happy for the choice you made!! You will be a stunning bride!



  30. I am doing a first look! I’m getting married in December when the days are significantly shorter and it will be almost dark by the time the ceremony is over so we don’t really have a choice either! I think either way though I would still prefer a first look so I could enjoy the reception more.

  31. I love this post and the topic of first looks! Truly, no matter what you do, it’s going to be the most special and memorable part of your wedding day. I’m a wedding planner, and a majority of my brides and grooms choose to do a first look these days! It’s so helpful with the timeline, like you said, and you and WIll can fully take advantge of your cocktail hour and the entirety of your reception. It’s so nice to knock out all of the wedding party pictures and then family pictures earlier in the day! And it’s such a private, momentous time together before the ceremony – undivided attention, no other eyes on you (save for your photographer and videographer), and you can choose a gorgeous, meaningful setting! From every couple I’ve talked to, they have absolutely loved their first look, and they’ve all said that it didn’t detract from the excitement and anticipation of the groom seeing the bride walk down the aisle.

    I got married a couple months ago, and we did not choose to have a first look! (After all of the reasons why it can be advantageous to do a first look, you’d think we would have wanted to do one!) For us, we had many reasons why we firmly didn’t want to do a first look, and we chose to hold hands, talk, and pray around a door (hidden from view from each other!) instead. That, along with walking down the aisle and having him see me for the first time, were two of the most special, memorable moments of our wedding day! Lots of happy tears were shed, of course.

    Something to also consider is doing a first look with your dad, if you’d want to! It’s a special moment to share with your dad, and I loved having this time with just my dad before the ceremony. It makes for great pictures, too!

    So, so excited for your upcoming wedding< Mackenzie!!