First Look vs Traditional

There are so many decisions to make regarding your wedding day and choosing whether to do a first look versus the traditional way is a HUGE decision!

In the traditional way, the bride and groom are hidden away from each other until she walks down the aisle to him. This is always a beautiful moment. Typically most people’s eyes are trained on the bride because she, of course, looks gorgeous but my tendency is to always watch the groom. As a photographer I LOVE capturing the emotion on the groom’s face when he sees her for the first time.

In a first look it’s still the same idea but you can get more creative with how you see each other. The biggest difference is a private moment only open to the photographers and videographers to ensure the memory lasts forever. The groom can have his back to the bride as she walks up and then turns around as well as be facing her when she comes around the corner into his sight.

Besides how you feel regarding a private moment versus a more public one there are other things to consider:


Wedding timeline- when you do a first look it can really take away the stress of the day. Because you and your groom have seen each other the full bridal party portraits can be done before the ceremony, but MOST IMPORTANTLY the family portraits can be taken. Family portraits are time consuming because Uncle Fred is always missing. Especially when the promise of cocktail hour is dangling in front of your eyes. And JUST THINK, because the bridal party and family portraits are now taken, after the ceremony there is ample time to get those intimate and creative shots of you and your new husband AND make it to the cocktail hour.

I know, I know, I get it. It is a lot of work to make sure your family is there and on time to make sure the family portraits get taken BEFORE the ceremony. But I am 100% CERTAIN that it is better to take the extra time before the wedding to email family members with times to be there for the family portraits than to send cousin David and Rebecca to go hunt down Uncle Fred only for Uncle Fred to show up as soon as they disappear from sight taking away precious minutes that should be devoted to just the two of you.

Remember, no matter what way you decide to see your spouse-to-be it will be a memory that you will always have with you for the rest of your life!



Rachel McDowell

Hi! My name is Rachel (Snyder) McDowell and I am a Grand Rapids, MI based wedding and portrait photographer. I love all things animals, reading, ballroom dancing (though I never leave out just a good 'ol get down and boogy). I can't wait to talk to you about your vision for your wedding! Photographer. Scared to blog. Ballroom dance instructor with stage fright. Grew up as a missionary kid in Haiti and dreams to someday live on a boat.