Benefits of a First Look

Recently, I was talking to one of my upcoming fall couples, and they mentioned that they didn’t want to see each other until the ceremony. They envisioned that traditional WOW moment of seeing each other for the first time as she walked down the aisle. As amazing as that moment is/can be, it just wasn’t a smart decision for them based on their wedding and timing. Here is why, and this may apply to you!

1. They have the venue for 5 hours for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception

2. They would only have that brief period of time during cocktail hour to take a) family portraits b) full bridal party shots, and c) most importantly, shots of the them together! One hour is just NOT enough for all of that!

3. They wanted to start the ceremony around 6pm, so the cocktail hour photo session would have to take place during dwindling light (6:30 – 7:30, with the sun setting slightly earlier in the fall)

4. The wedding is going to be at the gorgeous Chicago Botanic Gardens, so it would be an absolute crime if they didn’t take advantage of all the amazing photo-worthy locations!

What they didn’t realize is that there is another option, aka the First Look… that private moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time at a pre-designated location before the ceremony. In my opinion, this is just as special as that down-the-aisle moment because they actually have a chance to soak each other in (privately!), get the ugly-cry face out of the way, take some time to chat and giggle over the anticipation and excitement of the day, all while the photographer is unobtrusively snapping away.

It just makes sense. And for my couple, they were sold! This way we can allocate a solid two hours to photos, with the bridal party photos happening right after the First Look. AND they would have some time to enjoy the cocktail hour (after a few family pictures). Almost every couple I have worked with in the past has done a First Look… and didn’t regret it one bit! If you are planning on doing this as well, be sure to allow at least an hour, if not more for this! And then give yourself some time (20+ mins) to freshen up before the ceremony, super important :)

Just for fun, here are some shots from MY first look at the Hyatt Lodge! Enjoy!
All photos by the awesome Dennis Lee

Apparently, I was 15 minutes late, so here he is checking his watch.

First Look Sweetchic Events 1

First Look Sweetchic Events 2 First Look Sweetchic Events 3
I love the big smile on his face!

First Look Sweetchic Events 4
What did I tell you about the “ugly-cry face”?!

First Look Sweetchic Events 5

I gave him this pack of tissues beforehand to keep in his pocket specifically for this reason:

I’m a crier.

First Look Sweetchic Events 6
All better!

First Look Sweetchic Events 7
Literally, HUNDREDS of pictures ensued after this, but I won’t subject you to them all!
First Look Sweetchic Events 8

(For more pics, check out my Weddingbee recaps)

Are YOU doing a first look? Where are you doing yours? Don’t forget the tissues!




  1. I looooveee the photos of you and Borton’s first look! Your ugly cry face comment makes me laugh everytime. It seriosuly makes me cry then laugh then cry.. Lol.

  2. This is an awesome post filled with great advice!

    I never thought I would care so much about the 1st look till I started dress shopping. I want to keep my dress a complete surprise from my Yug. So I thought that I will skip the 1st look and see his expression for the 1st time down the aisle. But, I quickly learned that the fattie in me would rather risk that element of surprise to join my guests in our cocktail hour. XP Plus, all my married friends tell me that with the ambiance, every girl walking down an aisle in a white dress is bound to stir up some emotion. (I want my super manly firefighter Yug to cry when he sees me in my dress. :))


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