Do you plan on having a first look or staying traditional by not seeing each other before the ceremony?

If you don’t know what a “First Look” is all about, don’t worry.  It’s been years in the wedding industry for me now (I used to be a high school teacher!) and the photography lingo was no exception to new vocabulary I picked up along the way.  Just today, Kelly Blackall from Blackall Photography (who is one of our experts in this post) taught me that “togs” is short for photographer.  Had no idea.

But enough about me.

If you don’t know what a “First Look” is…

or if the thought of deviating from the tradition of bride & groom not seeing each other on the wedding day makes you antsy…

keep reading to see what 3 photography ladies taught me about the benefits of a First Look.

First Look- Yes, do it!  What is a First Look?

The scene:  Before the ceremony, before the guests arrive, before the walk up the aisle… you and your almost spouse get some time beforehand, alone.  At a photographic location at your venue, he waits and you walk up to his back.  Tap his shoulder.  He turns around.  And there you are.

Your photographer will be nearby, to capture all those tear-filled moments.  Private moments.

Some couples exchange a letter.  A small gift.  But most of all, they talk.  They embrace.

Epic Photography- John & Jessica at Skiatook Springs
Epic Photography took these “first look” shots of John & Jessica at THE SPRINGS located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

First Look- Nope, I’m traditional.  What does that scenario look like on wedding day?

The scene:  Your guests are seated, the officiant and the bridal party is waiting for you.  It’s time.  You open the door and take that walk up the aisle to your future spouse.  All eyes are on you, including his.  All at one, exhilarating moment.

Your photographer will snap away, capturing your walk, him watching you, and as much of that one moment as possible.

Jen&Jamie- Jen Brazeal- Walk down aisle
Jen Brazeal took this shot of Jamie & Jess at Boulder Springs in New Braunfels, TX

What do the photography experts say?  We asked 3 professional photographers to weigh in.

EXPERT #1:  Lisa, from C. Baron Photography

Lisa & her team are a photography team based out of the Houston area.  They have photographed many weddings, particularly at Crystal Springs in The Woodlands area and Pecan Springs, near Katy.

When Lanie, former bride who also works with C. Baron Photography got married, she did not do a First Look.  “In retrospect, I should have done a first look. It is my biggest regret. Whether you plan to do a first look or not is a very personal choice, but I do think you should know what I am thinking and feeling years after the big day.”  

Now, as a professional in the wedding industry, she has the opportunity to participate in couples’ first looks from behind the scenes.  “Each and every time I get nervous for the couple. I end up with goosebumps and butterflies…and I am simply a bystander. Therefore, I feel very cheated out of the fact that I didn’t get to share this very special moment with my husband.”  To read more about Lanie’s personal story and to read her advice as a former bride, you can do that here.  There’s also beautiful first look photos C. Baron Photography took from Crystal Springs & Pecan Springs, two of The Springs Events’ Houston locations.

Codi&Brad-C.Baron Photography

To read more about Codi & Brad’s wedding & see photos, view this post.

Here are 3 benefits of a First Look that Lisa from C. Baron Photography shared with us:

  1. Since they are alone, it often allows more emotion to surface (you know how guys can be, especially in front of a sea of people), which makes for amazing photos.
  2. Allows time for make up touch ups (if there were tears) and to relax for a second or two prior to the actual ceremony. 
  3. If the bride has a veil, we ask if she’d like to leave that off for the first look, but then put it on for her walk down the aisle – gives her a more “bridal” look and another surprise for her groom.

EXPERT #2:  Kelly Blackall, owner of Blackall Photography

Kelly Blackall is a photographer based out of the DFW area.  She shared photos of a couple (below), who opted for a middle ground between a First Look or staying Traditional.  They spent time alone on either side of the iron doors at Hidden Springs, located near Denton, to hold hands and talk before the ceremony.  This way, they didn’t see each other and break tradition, but they did share intimate moments together before the walk down the aisle.  Heritage Springs in North Dallas offers a ceremony aisle start at the top of a grand staircase, and Kelly captured this gorgeous shot from the big moment!

First Look Advice from Kelly Blackall

Here are 3 benefits of a First Look that Kelly from Blackall Photography shared with us:

  1. One of the reasons I absolutely love when a bride & her groom choose to have a first look is letting the couple share a private moment during all the hustle and bustle of a wedding. 
  2. It’s so great to have the bride fresh from getting her hair and makeup done walk up to her groom and share a moment that just they can appreciate!
  3. Doing all these photos ahead of the ceremony makes the formal portraits with family after the ceremony go that much faster! That way you’re not making your guests wait as long to get the reception started!


EXPERT #3:  Chrystina Straughan, owner of Straughan Photography

Chrystina Straughan is a photographer based out of the Texas Hill Country.  She has photographed many weddings at Boulder Springs, near New Braunfels and Bella Springs, based in Boerne.

So, Chrystina, what do you think about a First Look?

“Photographers love the idea of a first look! It gives the bride and groom an opportunity to have a quiet moment without all the guests watching. Being able communicate before the ceremony and be open with all the emotions that come on the wedding day helps relieve some of the stress.”


Here are 3 benefits of a First Look that Chrystina Straughan from Straughan Photography shared:

  1. The first look also helps with the couple’s wedding day timing. Your photographer can take several of the wedding party photos and a variety of family photos which would help the couple feel much less rushed.
  2. The couple could attend the cocktail party, this ties into timing. No bride has ever sat and thought “I cannot wait for those formal photos right after the ceremony where I get to stand still for 45 minutes and miss part of my party”.
  3. Depending on what time of year the wedding is or how late the ceremony starts, a first look enables the couple to have beautiful natural light photos. If a couple is getting married in December with an evening ceremony at 6:00pm, it will be pretty dark outside when the ceremony is over. Doing pre-wedding photos presents the couple with the best natural light before the ceremony and afterwards for sunset photos. Then they get a variety of looks.

Thank you to Lisa & Lanie from C. Baron Photography, Kelly from Blackall Photography & Chrystina from Straughan Photography for your photos and advice!

What are your plans for your wedding photography?

Will you be doing a First Look or Keeping it Traditional… ?

Or, maybe you’ve already been married- any advice for future brides about photography choices?

Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

THE SPRINGS Event Venues' contact information



Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Photography Series coming soon!

#1- How to be CLASSY, not CHEESY.

#3- First Look Experiences at TSE (from Real Brides!)

#4- Parent First Looks- SO sweet!

#5- Top 10 Photos at The Springs Events

#6- 8 Must-Read Tips from Photographers

 BONUS:  Top 10 Night Photos

Written by Audrey Nelson

Audrey Nelson

Audrey is our VP of Marketing at THE SPRINGS. She was formerly the Venue Manager at THE SPRINGS in New Braunfels and has hosted hundreds of weddings.

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