What a bride really wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time is a positive reaction! But wedding days can be stressful for both the bride and groom: they need to look their best, be on time, be gracious and patient interacting with guests, carry on traditions and meet expectations, etc. … If the first time the groom sees his sweetheart is in front of dozens (to hundreds) of other people, he may feel more angst than awe.

In many circles, a “First Look” has become a more personal and peaceful tradition.  “Emotions expressed, without stress” is my short definition of what a First Look can be! 

I love photographer Katelyn James! I’ve taken several classes from her and seen her in action at weddings with a First Look. On her blog, Katelyn describes perfectly a First Look and why it is so helpful for a groom:

“Grooms normally become incredibly nervous on wedding days…. even if they seem cool and collected.  For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her… all of a sudden everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony…. what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, walk up to him and gently tap his shoulder.  He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one that can make him most comfortable anyway.

Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits.  No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure.  It’s just the two of them and their photographer….. capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First Look…. it doesn’t.

After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends.  Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup while the boys act like boys.  After a few minutes, the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN. They’re FUN because there is time to make them FUN.  There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check.  It’s wonderful!

After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony.  The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony.  As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement.  The music builds, the mother of the bride stands, and all of the guests follow her lead.  The groom looks up and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning.  The closer she gets, the bigger his smile…

I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again and so I share this because I want the BEST for my couples.” -Katelyn James Blog, “The First Look”

Here are more benefits of a first look:

  • More portraits. Weddings are a huge investment and photography is a big deal. With a first look, you have more time for MORE portraits of the two of you with a great mix of candid and formal images. Most likely, these will be the images you decorate your home with and share with friends and family.
  • More meaningful time together. You actually get more meaningful, intimate time together on your wedding day. Most people think the walking down the aisle or the “I DO” moment of the ceremony is the most memorable, but when you look back, you’re in front of other people and you have to wait until the ceremony is over to quickly react and share any thoughts or feelings. Then you usually move right into the festivities! You just can’t beat the joy and excitement of that initial first glance, shared just between the two of you!

And more!

  • More time with your BEST friends. Instead of being rushed by your bridal portraits, you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with the most important people in your life on your wedding day. Other portraits after the wedding then move more quickly!
  • More peace. At first, most grooms may not be fans of a first look. But because they’ve never experienced their wedding day before, they don’t know how stressful and filled with expectations it can be! With a First Look, they feel SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony. 

ky & kannah


Ky & Hannah, our son and daughter-in-law. I remember when they were first dating, they jokingly said their “couple name” was Kyannah. Would they, will they, name a little girl this name? I guess we won’t know for awhile, since they are having a boy, and his name is … Ryker.