a first look: rochester ny wedding photography


anticipation a little history...

Have you ever wondered why it's bad luck for a groom to see the bride before the ceremony? Did you know that this began during the days when arranged marriages were the norm? Back in the day, a wedding was more of a business deal between families, and less the romantic day of celebration that it is now. In the "olden days" it was common for parents to worry that if the groom saw the bride before the ceremony and found the bride unattractive, he might call off the deal.

Sounds super romantic, doesn't it? Today, this little tradition still exists, but thankfully for far different reasons. So while you're planning your day, if you're looking to cast off old traditions, we want to give you another option - it's called a first look.

You may have heard of this before, but we wanted to give you our opinion on the subject. So, what is a first look and why should you consider one?

a wedding day first look

A "first look" is the first time a bride and groom see each other on their wedding day. Traditionally, this is when the church doors open and the bride starts her way down the aisle. The groom waits patiently at the alter admiring her beauty as she gets closer. There is a lot of smiling, oohs and ahhs from the crowd, as it is also the first time many of the guests are seeing that gorgeous gown she is wearing.

In the past few years, a new tradition has emerged. Couples that aren't superstitious and traditional are breaking the mold, and seeing their spouse-to-be for the first time, on their own terms. This way, their first meeting is much more personal, often romantic and emotional. It's a special time set aside an hour or two before the ceremony starts where the couple get to really take in the moment and enjoy each other before saying their vows.

how it works

When we set up a first look, we don't just open a bathroom door and "voila" that's it. We make it special, and private. It's a moment in time that's meant just for you and your spouse to be.

We'll help you pick a beautiful location, then set up your groom to wait for you with his back turned. Once you are dressed and gorgeous, you'll make your grand entrance. During this time, we'll step back, and photograph from a distance, so you can truly enjoy this time together. Let's be honest, it might be the only time all day, where you'll get to speak to each other privately. This is your chance to tell the other how much they mean to you, or just take in their beauty. This is an intimate moment, that you don't have to share with your guests as you walk down the aisle. Believe me, walking down the aisle is still just as special, and just as amazing.

the benefits

The reasons to have a first look can be personal, vain, and/or practical. Let's explore this a bit deeper:

1) The Emotions. You've invested months, or maybe years into this day. You've met, dated, fell in love, met the in-laws, and still said yes. You've planned every detail of the flowers, cake, favors and chair covers. Yet, nothing prepares you for the emotions of a wedding day. The moment of the first look is a like a flood gate. The last few months and years flash before your eyes, and then disappear, leaving nothing but the moment. Then you take 5 maybe 10 minutes with each other. Just you, by yourselves. No parents, bridesmaids, or kids – there is only the two of you. And there won't be another moment like this until the party is over.

Phew, I get choked up just thinking about it! I have seen many weddings, and there is one phrase I hear at every one of them, "Wow, that did go by fast!" You have much to do and many people to thank on your wedding day, so pre-plan it and take 10 minutes to let it sink in and enjoy the moment.

2) The Vanity. It's the beginning of the day, so there is no ironing, hair-spraying, makeup fixing, teeth brushing or people chasing, that needs to be done. Everything and everyone are the best they are going to look all day. This of course shows in the photographs! Of course the bride is going to be happy all day long, but the bridal party will still be excited and happy at this point too, not tired and cranky after hours of wearing uncomfortable shoes.  :)

3) Practicality. Weddings that include a first look often have a smoother, less hectic timeline. For one, we don't have to hunt down family members who have scattered after the ceremony.  Second, with a first look and the formal photos taken ahead of the ceremony, the bridal party doesn't have to miss the cocktail hour. Everyone tends to be a big fan of this benefit!


The ultimate goal is to give you a stress free, beautiful wedding day. Whether you choose a first look or not, we'll do our best to bring you the amazing wedding you deserve. If you decide a first look is not for you, we understand. With careful planning, we will always make your timeline work, and your day special. We're just here to give you some food for thought on ways that might make planning easier.

First Look Photography, Rochester NY Wedding Photography

A little time alone

Rochester, NY Wedding Photography

Rochester NY Wedding Photography

If this is something that piques your interest, let us know! We are happy to provide sample timelines both with and without a first look so you can see how the day might work out. We are happy to work with you either way to make sure there is plenty of time in your day to get all the fabulous photos you desire.

Happy planning! Lori and Erin