First Looks On Wedding Days with Alabama Wedding Photographer Why Breaking Tradition is A Good Choice

First looks on wedding days, who’s heard of them? By now, you probably have! Wedding photographers, brides, and wedding planners all talk about them daily now. I always offer this time to my clients when we’re discussing plans for the day, but many of them don’t realize how beneficial a first look can actually be to their special day. For those who aren’t aware, first looks are a chance for the bride and groom to see each other before their wedding ceremony. They can run anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours before the ceremony and allow a private moment with the bride and groom (and the photographer to capture it all!). Today I’ve decided to share three big reasons that a first look can be a great choice for your wedding day! 

Huge Reactions

Let’s be honest, what brides want most when they see their groom for the first time on their wedding day is a BIG reaction, right? They want to know that they look beautiful and that their groom is excited to get married too! Having a first look allows for time for those reactions. Imagine being able to walk over, see your groom hours before your ceremony and ave time to talk, embrace, share a kiss, and BE together before you meet him at the end of the aisle. Who wouldn’t want a chance to do that?

Many couples fear that a first look will take away from the reaction when the bride walks down the aisle. But in my experience, that isn’t the case. In fact, the groom is usually more relaxed and is able to express more easily how he’s feeling… since he’s already done it once! Plus, if the first time he sees you is when you come down the aisle, he has to wait before he can hug you, tell you how beautiful you look, or give you a kiss! Which option sounds better to you? 

wedding portraits at Marche with Jessica Smith Photography

Time Together

The next reason to consider a first look? Having time together! First looks can often extend your wedding day by a couple of hours. Because you’ve built in time to be together without the prying eyes of family, friends, or even your bridal party, you have time to relax together and enjoy the moment. It also allows us to take our time through your wedding portraits. The best party?  You two usually get more wedding portraits because of it! Without a first look, your time together can feel more rushed – through the ceremony, a quick portrait hour before cocktails, and the reception where you’re greeting everyone! But a first look gives you the chance to slow down and savor your wedding day! How else can you get quality time with your soon-to-be spouse (and bridal party, when you’re done with portraits!)? 

Alabama wedding with tropical flair photographed by Jessica Smith Photography

Relaxing Nerves

The biggest benefit, in my eyes, for a first look is how everyone becomes a bit more relaxed. Because you’ve seen each other, you get a chance to remember how excited you are to be married – instead of nervous. There’s no worry about reactions down the aisle or stress about portrait time later in the day. Everyone has a chance to just take a breather and take in the day. I can’t imagine a better reason than that to encourage you to have a first look!

First looks are 100% optional. I will never force my couples to have one! But, I do find they can be super beneficial for everyone involved. I’ve never had a couple tell me they regret having a first look on their wedding day. With the chance for more time together and a more relaxed atmosphere, it’s always been a no brainer for them. Breaking the age old tradition to not see each other beforehand definitely has its perks!


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meet jessica


I am Jessica Smith. I am a wedding and portrait photographer based in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Born and raised in Alabama, I have lived on the Gulf Coast for the most of my life. After adventures with my husband’s job in the Coast Guard, we decided it was time to follow our hearts and settle down back on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Being from Fairhope, my southern heritage is apparent from the time you meet me. My southern “twang” and my love of Alabama football are the giveaways. I am a wife and a mother to three gorgeous sons. I also love to garden and promoting wellness in the world.  

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