Trying to decide on a traditional or first look? Read this first.

April 18, 2020


Brides, I know that wedding planning comes with SO many decisions. Chocolate or vanilla cake? Spring or summer date? Serve chicken or salmon for dinner? Some are easy to make (hello, I’ll take the salmon) but a decision that I hear almost all of my couples go back and forth on, is whether to do a first look or a traditional look. This is a huge decision because it can dictate the flow of your entire wedding day, and it’s probably something you’ve been dreaming of your whole life right? The moment you walk down that aisle to your almost-husband as the music (that you’ve carefully selected) plays and he sees you in your wedding dress for the first time. So it’s understandable why so many brides and grooms are torn between doing a traditional or first look. I’m here to help you understand your options and find out which one is best for you! 

First, let’s break down exactly what a traditional look and a first look are. A traditional look is where the soon-to-be-married-couple is kept separate the whole wedding day up until the moment the bride walks down the aisle towards her groom. Traditional in the sense that this is what we typically see in movies and what many of us probably imagined when we were younger.

A first look is something that has become more popular and for good reason! It is where the soon-to-be-married-couple sees each other before their ceremony. This can be in a variety of different ways! Often though, the couple will be alone (except for their photographer and videographer) and they have a chance to see each other before the ceremony. 

Now above I said that this decision dictates the flow of your wedding day. It really does, because wedding timelines are a large part of helping wedding days go smoothly and it will alter when and how you take your photos throughout the day! 

With a traditional look, the soon-to-be-married-couple is kept separate until the ceremony, which means their bridal portraits together, individual bridal portraits, bridal party photos with everyone together, and family photos will all need to take place until after the ceremony. Now, this can of course work, but it does typically mean that the bride and groom need to skip out on cocktail hour to get their photos taken.

With a first look, the soon-to-be-married-couple gets to see each other earlier in the day which means that all of those photos (or the majority of them) can be taken before you even get to your ceremony! In my opinion, this is the biggest pro for having a first look. After the ceremony, most couples are ready to head to the cocktail hour or dinner and enjoy that time with their friends and family, and a first look allows you to do that so you don’t have to take as many photos after the ceremony! 

One thing I hear from many of my couples is that they would love to have a first look for their wedding day timeline, but the bride has been dreaming of that moment when she walks down the aisle forever. Ladies, let me tell you now, having a first look does NOT take that away from you. In my opinion, it actually adds to the day. You get that moment during your first look to be alone with your partner and soak in the moment of “Holy crap, we’re doing this!” and also “Wow, you look amazing!” It lets you get those initial jitters out. THEN when it’s time to walk down the aisle, you still get that amazing moment you’ve dreamed of! You hear the music, you see your partner at the end of the aisle, and it allows you to experience a totally different moment instead of taking away anything. 

Your wedding day is all about you and your partner celebrating your love and getting married! Whether you end up with chocolate cake, salmon, and a first look or the exact opposite, the only decision that matters is the one where you picked your partner for life. 

Above all, I want my couples to do exactly what THEY want. If you have dreamed of a traditional look your whole life that’s perfect with me, and I’m happy to help you with that wedding timeline. If a first look sounds like the right option to you, I’m also totally on board with that too and I’ll help with that wedding timeline! As your photographer, it is my job to help make your day run smoothly no matter what you want your timeline to look like. 

It’s important to pick the right photographer for you because they will be your number 1 supporter with every decision you make and have your back through it all. And hello guys, that’s me! I am there with my couples through every decision they make for their wedding day and cheering them on. I’ll work to make your wedding timeline fit you and your day uniquely, high five you for all those decisions you make, and support the vision you have for your day. Just save me a piece of chocolate cake ok? 

Head to my Book Now page to reach out to me about photographing your special day! I’d love to hear what decisions you’ve already made and help you create a wedding timeline that matches your first or traditional look perfectly.


Wedding photography assisted Nicole Kirshner Photography


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Trying to decide on a traditional or first look? by Hilary Kao Photo. This blog post includes wedding details, bridal fashion, groom fashion, bride and groom portraits. Book your Destination wedding and browse the blog for more inspiration #photography #weddingplanning #weddingtips #weddingphotography #weddingphotographer

Trying to decide on a traditional or first look? by Hilary Kao Photo. This blog post includes wedding details, bridal fashion, groom fashion, bride and groom portraits. Book your Destination wedding and browse the blog for more inspiration #photography #weddingplanning #weddingtips #weddingphotography #weddingphotographer

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