Should we do a first look?

As you are planning your wedding and thinking about the day-of timeline, your planner or photographer will likely bring up the first look. So, you’re probably wondering “what the heck is a first look?”

Basically, it’s where you and your partner see each other in your wedding clothes. It’s typically the first time you see each other that day. Sounds simple right? From a photographer’s stand point, first looks can be great for the wedding timeline because it gives us more time for photos! After the ceremony, the wedding goes by quickly, there’s happy hour and then the reception which is full of speeches and dancing (basically not a lot of time for portraits). I personally like to give my couple some time to enjoy the cocktail hour and mingle with their guests so if you wait until after the ceremony that only gives us about 30 minutes to capture all your family photos and your couple portraits.

Let’s see if doing a first look is right for you

A first look isn’t for you if:

  • You want to stick to tradition (which is totally fine!)
  • You don’t mind missing cocktail hour
  • You are having a ceremony in the early afternoon, the light is harsh and not the most flattering
  • You just don’t want too! (It’s YOUR day, do what you want!)

A first look is for you if:

  • Couple portraits are important to you. I suggest about 30 minutes to spend some time together and enjoy the moment
  • You don’t want to stick to tradition and you want a wedding day that reflects what YOU want, not just what has “always” been done
  • After the ceremony you want to spend more time with your guests during cocktail hour
  • You’ve seen them and love the concept behind them

At the end of the day, I want to empower you to make the decision that works best for the both of you. After reading this, how to you feel about first looks?

If you have any questions about first looks, feel free to contact me at

Kelley Williams is a San Luis Obispo Wedding Photographer capturing modern weddings and elopements with a purposeful editorial approach. Her images are always luminous, romantic, and full of love. Kelley prides herself on being a “professional 3rd wheel” and directs her couples effortlessly. Kelley Williams calls California home, but is ready to travel anywhere in the world to capture your love story.

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