Is a first look right for you?


One of the first questions I ask my couples when we are going over the timeline of their day is, “are you interested in a first look?” So many things determine whether a first look is beneficial, and while at the end of the day it’s always your decision, I’m going to share some reasons you should consider this tradition-breaker.

What is a ‘first look’?

Traditionally, the first time a couple sees one another is at the ceremony, as one of them is walking down the aisle. A first look bucks tradition, and the couple sees one another before the ceremony, allowing time for portraits and some valuable alone time.

When is a First Look a good idea?

In my opinion, they’re always a good idea. Weddings are fast paced, and you don’t usually realize it until the day is over. A first look allows you and your future husband/wife to have a few minutes of alone time, just the two of you, before the craziness of the day really begins. Because let me tell you, once you say “I do”, you won’t be left alone for the rest of the night!

In reality, a first look is a good idea practically for a few reasons. First, if you are getting married in the winter months, the sun sets crazy early, which means less time for portraits around sunset. Unless, of course, you’re having an early ceremony.

Second, it allows us to get ALL your portraits done before the ceremony. Not just the couple’s portraits, but all photos involving bridal party and family as well. This is beneficial because you don’t have to worry about your dad (it’s almost always the dad) wandering off after the ceremony and putting us behind schedule for other photos.

Finally, if you want to be present for your cocktail hour, you’ll need to really consider a first look. Family photos, bridal party photos, AND couple’s portraits will take a minimum of 45 minutes (and that’s if we are FLYING through them and being super efficient). There goes most of your cocktail hour!

Key West wedding photos

What if it’s just not for us?

That’s totally fine! No one can make this decision but you and your fiance. Work with your planner and photographer on timeline options that will allow you to maximize your schedule and get the photos you’ve been dreaming of! Speaking of timelines….

Sample Timelines

The biggest thing to consider when thinking about a first look is the time of your ceremony. Like I mentioned above, if you’re getting married during the winter months, you’ll be hard pressed for time before the sun goes down, unless you’re having an early ceremony.

Below are two timelines for a wedding that is happening in December, when the sun sets around 5:30, and it’s totally dark by 5:45ish. We’ll assume the reception ends at 10, which is pretty common. Again, every wedding is totally different, but this should give you a pretty good idea!

With a First Look

  • 2:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos with Partner A
  • 2:30 Second photographer gets getting ready photos with Partner B
  • 3:00 Both partners get dressed
  • 3:30 first look and couple’s photos
  • 4:15 Bridal Party photos (Individual and whole group)
  • 4:30 Family Photos
  • 4:45 Everyone hides away before the ceremony; rest, touch up hair and makeup, etc.
  • 5:00 get married as the sun is setting
  • 5:30 Optional sunset photos, then enjoy the rest of the night!
  • 10:00 Reception and photography service ends

Without a First Look

  • 1:00 Photographers arrive for getting ready photos with Partner A
  • 1:30 Second photographer gets getting ready photos with Partner B
  • 2:00 Both partners get dressed
  • 2:30 Partner A photos with bridal party
  • 2:45 Partner A photos with family
  • 3:00 Partner B photos with bridal party
  • 3:15 Partner B photos with family
  • 3:30 hide away for ceremony; rest, touch up hair and makeup, etc
  • 3:45 get married!
  • 4:15 Finish family photos
  • 4:30 Finish bridal party photos
  • 4:45 Couple’s portraits during cocktail hour
  • 5:15 Reception begins
  • 9:00 photography ends
  • 10:00 End of reception
first look

Alternate ‘first looks’

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how adorable it is to have a first look with your parents. Some of my favorite images are of mother’s seeing their sons for the first time (#boymom). And how adorable are these photos of Danielle and her dad? WORTH IT!

Morada Bay Wedding
  1. […] a first look allows you to get ALL of the portraits done before the ceremony, so you can just get right to the […]

  2. […] couple had the CUTEST first look ever, just look at Brett’s reaction! First looks are so special because you get to capture the bride and groom without them having the pressure of […]

  3. […] having a first look and NOT having a first look (if you’re still trying to decide, check out this blog post!). This is one of the first things I ask my couples because it affects the timeline for the entire […]

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ABOUT Alyssa

At home near the sea. Ever-focused on beauty and the thrilling art of creation; found in the moments that leave me breathless and in awe. 

Growing up, photos always fascinated me.  I was raised to be inquisitive, ask questions, and appreciate history.  What better way to peak someone's interest than with a photograph?  

I always thought I would end up in the pages of Vogue (though I still hope!), but after the tragic loss of my mother, I turned to wedding photography on a whim and fell in love with the energy that can only be found when two people decide on forever.  The overwhelming joy, nostalgia, and attention to detail captured my heart in 2012, and I never looked back.

I squeeze clients meetings in between nap times, and I drive my kids to school and daycare only to run into meetings with designers, florists, and beautiful clients before racing back to gather them back up again. The most amazing part, is that I feel most alive in this environment. Wedding days are chaotic, just like parenting.  Couples and families require empathy and genuine care, just like my children.  

I expertly navigate your wedding from my extensive experience in this industry, and what this offers you is the peace of mind on your wedding day to relax and enjoy what you have created. Booking with Alyssa Morgan Photography allows you to sit back, enjoy your party, and trust that every part of the day is going to be handled with ease, grace, and a whole lot of laughter along the way.

Adventurer.  Traveler.  Mother.

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