should i have a first look at my wedding? [massachusetts wedding photographer]

I meet with a lot of couples who wonder if a first look at their wedding would be right for them. I mean, it’s kind of a big deal right? What person hasn’t fantasized about what it’s going to be like to see their betrothed for the first time on their wedding day? Will seeing each other before the ceremony be bad luck? Will it take away from the magic of the moment that you or your beloved walks down the aisle? Will your relatives think you’re nuts? From a timeline perspective it is usually beneficial to use the time leading up to the ceremony to fit in some or all of the photos for the day. Otherwise you’ll be trying to cram photos of you and your future spouse, all of your family and bridal party during cocktail hour when you could be having drinks and interacting with your guests. I personally will be having a first look at my wedding, whenever that day comes, but whether it’s right for you and your future spouse only you can decide. Lucky for us I have some amazing clients who have been gracious enough to share their experience of seeing each other before the ceremony. I hope this will shed some light on the matter and help you decide if a first look is the right fit for you.

xo, sara

 Jocelyn + Eric - Blissful Meadows, Uxbridge MA


Jocelyn: When we started looking for a photographer for the wedding, having a “First Look” the day of wasn’t something that really popped into our heads. We were more concerned with finding someone who would fit in with our style and price point, which we found in Sara. After talking with her, Sara suggested that we consider doing the First Look as a way to save time and be able to have a quiet moment with each other. We decided that this would actually be really useful as I have a lot of nieces and nephews who would need to be corralled for family photos later, which can be totally stressful. I was a little worried about selling this idea to my parents, but they both thought that it sounded logical and were all for it. Walking down the path to meet Eric at the barn was weird, quite honestly. We’ve been together for so long and aren’t a “fancy” couple, but here I was in a dress with makeup and purple shoes about to get married! The first look was really nice, because even though some of our guests could see us, we were tucked away in a corner of the venue and it felt like it was just us. In the middle of the stress of the day, it was very reassuring to have those few moments together and to take some of the later pressure and worry off. I would totally recommend people do a first look. It is nice to have that moment together and to be able to break away from the rest of the hubbub!

Eric: I feel like we were in a different situation than other couples getting married. We had dated for 15 years, so we had already done our relationship in a way that was different than other couples that did not have a relationship of that length. Having been together for such a long time made me worry less about good luck and the other superstitions surrounding seeing the bride before the ceremony. Although I had seen pictures of the dress, I had not seen her in the dress, so we stayed with tradition on that point. When we weighed the efficiency of getting some of the pictures done early with the desire to adhere to tradition, we both felt that we should be efficient so we could get back to the wedding and take more time later with family photos. Many of the people at the wedding, mostly parents and elder family, asked me how I felt about seeing the bride in the dress before the wedding, and I had no problem with it. I think they understood that we had an unconventional relationship to that point, so we didn’t need to follow convention now.

I think the surprise of the dress was intact when I saw her for the first time because I had not seen her in the dress before. She was radiant, and people who viewed the pictures said I looked surprised and happy. People who hadn’t attended the ceremony said that they had no idea we did a first look. Seeing the dress before the ceremony did not reduce the impact of seeing the dress, and it set my mind at ease when thinking about all the other things going on that day. I am a private person, so it was nice to see her before the ceremony so the surprise could be done in private and not in front of 100 people. The first look also had the intended effect of taking stress from the family pictures; we could spend more time shuffling and finding people than trying to get the proper number of shots. I would suggest a first look to anyone as a way to make the already hectic day more manageable.


 Kristen + Paul - McGoverns on the Water, Fall River MA


Kristen: My husband and I were all about having as much of a “traditional” wedding as possible. We slept apart the night before our wedding, even though we had lived together for almost two years. I thought there was something sweet about it.

Originally I was against a first look. I wanted the first time Paul saw me on our wedding day to be when I was walking down the aisle. Both Paul and I had been in weddings where the bride and groom had done a first look and we still weren’t convinced fully. After meeting with Sara, she put it all into perspective. She told us that not only would it save time after the ceremony, but it would help take some of the pressure and anxeity out of our day. She emailed me an article later that night and after a discussion, we decided that yes we would “give in” and do a first look.

HOLY COW! We are both SO happy we did! Those few moments were so precious, so intimate, so peaceful. All of our stress that had built up for that last hectic week before had melted. The only thing we both felt during the walk down the aisle and the cereony was love. No more anxiousness, just a silly perma-grin. I was so relaxed that I actually remember my ceremony! 

Most of my favorite photos from our wedding day are from our first look. You can feel the love and warmth, and almost see that sigh of relief on both our faces. I would recommend a first look to anyone!


Paul: Having decided to take “first look” photos for our wedding could not have been a better idea! Besides the fact the the pictures came out great, it really helped my wife and I calm ourselves and enjoy the moment before we actually said “I Do.”

 Nicole + Will - Glen Manor House, Portsmouth RI


Nicole: I had my doubts wanting to do a first look. I’ve always loved the idea of the doors opening and walking down the aisle, and looking forward to seeing my future husband’s reaction. However, I am glad we did do the first look. We wanted to take care of formal photos prior to the ceremony so we could enjoy the cocktail hour. But I think doing the first look alleviated a lot of nerves for me. Although to my surprise, walking down the aisle even having done the first look was still a little nerve wrecking. However, seeing all my family and closest friends and my future husband at the end of the walk, made me feel at ease and even more excited to finally be married. I think it’s a beautiful moment and opportunity that you and your soon to be husband can share before the big party begins, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Will: The first-look was a no brainer for us as we wanted to do the majority of pictures before the ceremony in order to maximize our time with our guests. Nikki and I didn’t feel strongly for the traditional wait-for-the ceremony entrance, and the first look helped to provide that build-up excitement when I was waiting to see my bride.  Seeing Nikki in her dress was what I was most looking forward to on our wedding day, so that moment really provided the emotional ‘wow’ factor. I teared up a bit when I first saw her and how beautiful she looked. Seeing each other beforehand didn’t diminish or take away from the moment at the altar at all.


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Sara is a wedding and portrait photographer with roots in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California and is available for worldwide travel.