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What’s The Difference Between a First look and a Traditional Reveal?

You’re engaged! Now what? Wedding planning! After venue selection and other details, consider if you want a first look or a traditional wedding reveal. This blog provides information and options to help you make an informed decision. It’s YOUR wedding. I will provide the options but never push you to do one or the other, it’s a personal decision. However, one may work better with your day’s timeline and look.

 Should We do a FirstLook or Traditional Reveal? | Seattle Wedding Photographer |


 Should We do a FirstLook or Traditional Reveal? | Seattle Wedding Photographer |


First, let’s talk about the First Look set up. Typically we choose an offsite but nearby location to where you’re getting ready. We like to test it out to really get a feel for what the scene will look like in camera before bringing in our couple. Once we find the perfect spot which usually is private, only the couple, one photographer, and the videographer are present. We will set the groom up as previously determined in our logistical meeting; then we bring in the bride for the big reveal. Be prepared to have breath taken away!




First Look Options

Three Feet Away

The bride stops three feet away from the groom’s back. She takes a deep breath, fluffs her dress, and prepares. Once ready, I instruct the groom to count to five…he turns, he sees his bride. He walks over to her, careful not to step on her dress. We capture the moment.

 Should We do a FirstLook or Traditional Reveal? | Seattle Wedding Photographer |


Back to Back Hand Holding

We set the groom up, back to the bride. Then we line up the bride with her back touching the groom’s. After connecting your hands we tell you to “count to five together”. You turn to face each other at the same time. We capture this special moment.

 Should We do a FirstLook or Traditional Reveal? | Seattle Wedding Photographer |


A Tap on the Shoulder

The bride approaches the groom’s back. We stop her close enough to tap his shoulder and he turns around. We capture this intimate moment.

 Should We do a FirstLook or Traditional Reveal? | Seattle Wedding Photographer |


Three feet away is the most popular. The bride doesn’t have to drag her dress, and the groom sees the whole dress. We try to maintain our distance as much as possible after setting you up so the reveal is intimate and raw. Take your time. Once you start looking at us, we know you’re ready for portraits.

The first look is your private opportunity together to see converse, ease your nerves, and appreciate each other. I’ve heard from most couples the first look prepares them for the the rest of the day.


Check out thE video below for a Behind the scenes of real couples at their first look reveal 


Traditional Aisle Reveal setup

You’ll see each other for the first time while the bride is walking down the aisle during the actual ceremony. While this option is very “in the moment” and dramatic, it’s not private. You don’t have that moment to take each other in and process the first look.


How the Traditional Aisle Reveal Affects the Timeline

Portraits are squeezed in after the ceremony and requires excellent communication with the wedding party and family to coordinate. We usually plan for an hour. First, finding a predetermined spot to hide from the guests as they exit and sign the marriage certificate (approximately 15 minutes). Then, we quickly take the family and wedding party photos. This can feel chaotic, and the time flies by, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Finally, we dismiss the wedding party and family, and take the couple’s portraits with whatever time is left.

So What do People Choose?

90% of my couples choose the first look. Again, the choice is yours. I will simply ask you on the wedding questionnaire if you want a first look or traditional wedding reveal. I can tell you I’ve never had a couple tell me they’ve regretted the first look; even ones that came in wanting the traditional reveal. The thought of being rushed after the ceremony to take pictures, and taking time away from their guests usually changed their mind. They go with the flow of the wedding, enjoy their guests, and the day. Whatever you decide, we support you, work with you, and educate you to make it a day to remember.


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