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Is a First Look Right for You?

First Look Photography John Malloy Photography

My years of being a wedding photographer have shown me many trends in wedding photography. One of the popular trends emerging now is the idea of a “First Look.” Many of my wedding clients choose to wait to see for the first time at their wedding ceremony. And for them, that works great! The moment when a groom looks up in awe to see his bride coming down the aisle is so wonderful. But, with that said, there are times when having a first look can be both helpful and beneficial to the flow of your wedding day.

Should you do a first look?

I personally love photographing the groom’s expression as he sees his bride coming down the aisle. My wife and I were traditional as well, we did not do a first look. But a first look can be a wonderful way to spend more time with your guests, enjoy time together as a couple, and to ease your anxieties on your wedding day. With that in mind, in this blog post, I will share some of those reasons. And, whether you decide to have a first look or not, I promise, that moment when the bride makes her grand entrance will still be magical. Here are some questions to ask yourself. And, depending on your answers, a first look might be a good idea.

Do you want to spend Cocktail Hour with your guests?

If you want to enjoy your cocktail hour spending time with your guests, mingling and enjoying their company, you might want to do a first look. A first look allows you to have most of your pictures done ahead of the ceremony, giving you time to relax with your loved ones at cocktail hour. Honestly, this is the most popular consideration for my couples who decide to do a first look. Instead of doing family pictures during cocktail hour, they do them before, maximizing time with their guests.

When Does the Sun Set?

Think about the lighting on the day of your wedding. When is your ceremony? If sunset is during or before the ceremony, you might want to consider having a first look. If couples would like to have some images with warm, natural light, and sunset is during or before the ceremony, a first look is the way to go. Think about those late fall and winter weddings—the sun sets as early as 4:30! A first look allows us to take advantage of the sunlight while it lasts to have outdoor images of the bride, groom, family, and bridal party. If your wedding is on or after that first weekend in November, pay close attention to the time of the ceremony. You don’t want to be planning on wedding photos outside and then realize it will be dark!

Do you want Private Time before the Wedding Ceremony?

For some people, having a first look allows them a moment alone together. There can be a lot of anxiety about your wedding day, and sometimes a quiet moment alone together is a way to take a breath and appreciate the special day to come. A first look can be a quiet, romantic moment together where you can have that experience of seeing each other privately before the ceremony. Sometimes that big moment of coming down the aisle is too much—and that’s okay! The first look is an intimate moment shared just between the bride, groom, and their wedding photographer. In some cases, it’s the only alone time the bride and groom get all day! Some couples choose to use the first look as a time to exchange gifts or cards, like Lacey and Dom did in the photos shared below.

The Best of Both Worlds

Another option in lieu of a first look is a first look without seeing each other. We set you up around a corner or on opposite sides of a tree or doorway… where you can hold hands, hear each other and share a quiet moment together. You preserve the grand entrance, but still have an intimate moment to share your thoughts, exchange gifts, pray, or just be excited together in a quiet, private moment.

Whatever you choose, my job as your wedding photographer is to support you. No matter when you first set eyes on each other, the moment is priceless and I will be there to capture it. Your wedding will be wonderful either way.

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I am thankful to each and every couple who invites me to document their love story. Each precious moment of wedding happiness is important to me. 

a few favorites from


Capturing the Perfect Moment

We had such an amazing time on the beach and out on the boat, enjoying the summer breeze and taking some wonderful shots!

My Family 

Beach Vacation 

Anne first saw Brandon when she was 8 years old. His mother was one of the owners of the dance studio where she was a student. 


Anne & Brandon


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