For Couples

The First Look – A Great Wedding Day Stress Reliever

One of the most iconic images of a wedding day is the moment when the bride enters the scene at the beginning of the ceremony and walks down the aisle to be presented to her groom.  Tradition holds so tightly to the fact that when the bride enters, it is the first time she and the groom see each other on that day.

The grand entrance really is a magical moment in so many ways and so many loved ones are around observing, but is it really always the best time for the bride and groom to first see each other on their wedding day?


What Is a “First Look”?

In short, it’s the first moment the bride and groom see each other, completely ready (hair/make-up/dress), on their wedding day.

We usually ask the bride and groom if there is a specific place they would love to first see each other.  If they have a specific spot, we’ll do it there.  If they don’t have a preference, we search for a quiet, slightly hidden location around the venue with great light and a picturesque background.  We usually set the groom up so that he is looking a different direction from where the bride will enter and then allow her to walk up to him and let him know she’s there, in whatever way she decides.

It’s always a beautiful moment, so we photograph it for a little while, but then back off for 5-10 minutes to allow the couple to bask in this intimate time together…. sometimes, it’s the only quiet time they’ll have together throughout the entire wedding day!


When describing this event to our couples, we point it out that this isn’t a replacement to the “walking down the aisle” photo but actually an addition to that moment. In essence, you are adding to the day by getting an extra special look instead of replacing it.

If you’re a bride or a groom and haven’t ever considered a “First Look”, or a special time for you to see each other before the ceremony, please take a photographer’s perspective on the moment.  We’re not here to convince you that one way is better for your situation than the other, but we do love informing our couples about the pros and cons we see in planning a first look.  Don’t worry, we’ll still shoot your wedding, even if you decide to not see each other beforehand. =)



-The couple can enjoy a few quiet, intimate moments together
-Anxiety/stress relief (for both the bride and groom)
-Simpler logistics (no one needs to be appointed to “don’t let the groom see the bride” duty)
-Alleviates stress for the family/portrait time and usually a less-packed timeline throughout the day
-More free to fully show emotions without an “audience”
-Usually takes place in better (natural) lighting situations
-The couple (and wedding party) are able to spend more time with family/guests during the cocktail hour
-Hair and make-up are still fresh for all other group photos, since most are then able to be shot prior to the ceremony




-You may have always dreamed of that first “moment” of walking down the aisle
-Breaks tradition


One Last Note

We have learned an important thing over the years and it’s the need to tell all the grooms out there something… Your bride has been preparing to be beautiful all morning (or day!) long and this is the moment where she reveals that beauty to you.  Please, don’t forget to tell her just how gorgeous she looks!  Yes, she wants to see you and hug and kiss you, but please don’t forget… she would really love to hear you say, “Wow… you look incredible” whether or not you do a first look! :)


Also, here are two great articles written by Jasmine Star on this topic:

FAQ – First Look
The First Look – Groom’s Perspective

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Ray + Kelly Photography are a husband-wife wedding photography team based out of Southwest Wisconsin in the gorgeous Driftless Region of Viroqua.  The majority of our weddings and events take place outdoors in backyards, near a lakeside, on family farms, in modern barns and other beautiful venues all around Madison, Milwaukee, La-Crosse, Spring Green, Door County and all throughout the Midwest!

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