These Adorable Photos Make the Case for Having a First Look on Your Wedding Day

first look photos joshua dwain
Matthew Ellis of Joshua Dwain Photography

The first time you see your future husband or wife on the wedding day, you're bound to be filled with emotion. That's why so many photographers recommend making a mini event out of it. While there's nothing wrong with locking eyes at the ceremony, many couples choose to have a first look before their vow exchange. It's a little more private, it can calm pre-wedding jitters, and it often results in some truly incredible portraits. To show you what we mean, we've gathered some of our favorite first look photos and shared suggestions for optimizing yours.

No two couples are exactly the same, and neither are any two first look sessions. In fact, that's what makes them so beautiful. How you and your partner approach your reveal will say a lot about your relationship. In turn, whatever reactions you have in that moment will help personalize your photo album. That being said, we're all for offering inspiration. The following couples' poses, first look venues, and more provide plenty of that, as do our accompanying tips.

If you've already decided to incorporate the tradition into your big day, these first look ideas will help you make the most of the special moment. On the other hand, if you're still uncertain if you want one, these snapshots might just sway you. Whatever the case, we hope these images get you excited for your wedding. If they're any indication of how blissful marriage can be, you've got a lot to look forward to.

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Behind Closed Doors

first look photos flora + fauna
Flora + Fauna

Ensure you're hidden until the big reveal. These brides appeared from behind closed doors to amplify the effect.

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Tears of Joy

first look photos rebecca yale
Rebecca Yale Photography

Don't be afraid to shed a tear—the pure emotion only enhanced these photos.

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Rain or Shine

first look photos soul season photography
Soul Season Photography

Mother Nature is no match for true love. This couple's rainy portrait session proved that their relationship could weather any storm.

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Love and Laughter

dani jackson wedding first look
Erich McVey

Go ahead and have fun during your first look. This couple's photo session was full of laughter, and the photos were all the more adorable because of it.

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Hand in Hand

wedding couple first look
Audra Wrisley Photography

These two held hands as they soaked in the moment. We're all for incorporating touch into your first look—it's sure to calm any pre-ceremony nerves.

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Mood Lighting

first look photos Eastlyn and Joshua
Eastlyn Bright Tolle of Eastlyn & Joshua

Put some thought into your first look venue: The right lighting can make all the difference (as shown by this couple's romantic spot).

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Never Forget

madeline brad wedding first look
Michael and Carina Photography

Sight and touch are just pieces of the puzzle, so try using all your senses to fully engrave the moment in memory. This groom kept his ears perked, for example. "When she was walking up behind me, before I turned around, her dress sounded like a ship's sail coming in," he recalled.

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Sweet Embrace

natalie louis wedding first look
Birds of a Feather

These two fell into each other's arms during their first look, which made for an amazing photo.

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Love's a Journey

first look photos greg finck
Greg Finck

For a dramatic entrance, try descending down a scenic path to your bride or groom. In this case, that meant a dock ramp.

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Buckled Over

first look photos howard photo and film
Howard Photo + Film

Let your body do the talking—this groom buckled over with excitement.

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Down the Aisle

first look photos rachel driskell white room groom waiting bride behind
Rachel Driskell

These two chose to simulate the bride's walk down the aisle for their first look—only this time, the moment was beautifully private.

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Come Prepared

first look photos rebecca yale couple in woods
Rebecca Yale Photography

When the waterworks start, you'll want backup. We recommend bringing along a hankie, as this smart groom did.

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All Dressed Up

first look photos rebecca yale
Rebecca Yale Photography

Take a cue from these two and get a gander of each other's outfits. After all, the ensembles are bound to be special.

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Show Off

first look couple
Meg Smith

You have every right to take the opportunity to show off your looks. This couple proved that point further.

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Act Natural

first look photos shannon moffit
Shannon Moffit

Act like no one's watching for truly authentic images. This couple only had eyes for each other.

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Calm and Collected

texas wedding first look hug
Josh and Dana Fernandez

There's no better comfort than a hug from your partner before you exchange vows. This photo radiates the ease these two felt as soon as they saw each other.

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Practice Patience

shanice & stephen wedding first look
Elizabeth Austin Photography

Ask your photographer to capture your expressions before the first look, too. We're sure this couple will love looking back on the adorable anticipation they felt.

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Look of Love

Amber Gress

This groom's excitement was obvious as he shared a first look with his future wife.

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All Smiles

first look photos T and K Photography
T&K Photography

These grooms flashed the biggest smiles for the camera—and for each other.

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Too Good to Be True

first look
Tec Petaja

The groom's hand gestures made this photo.

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Go the Distance

If it feels more comfortable, ask to be photographed from afar. These brides proved the result is just as gorgeous.

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Tissue Break

becca zac wedding first look
Fer Juaristi

Make sure you give yourselves enough time to really process what's happening. You never know how many tissue breaks you'll need during the first look portrait session. (We know this couple had a few!)

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Love's in the Air

ana and damon first look embrace
Shannen Natasha of The Wedding Artists Collective

The emotion was tangible in this first look room.

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Catch Your Breath

emily adhir wedding first look
Brandon Kidd Photography

Trust us, you'll have all the feels. Take it from this couple.

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Lend a Hand

first look
Elizabeth Messina Photography

This kind groom was quick to dry his bride's happy tears.

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Here to Help

couple first look
Clara Rice Photography

On the flipside, this bride was there to wipe away her groom's.

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In Private

daisy eugene wedding couple first look
Jaka Vinsek

Here's another example of the beauty of a little privacy. We're obsessed with this perspective.

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Magic Moment

wedding couple first look
Amy Fanton Photography

Complements to this photographer, who gorgeously captured the magic of the moment for the soon-to-be husband and wife pictured.

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Soak It In

emily siddartha wedding firstlook bride groom
Jesse Leake

Our best advice is simple: savor the first look. It's one of the only chances you'll get for some "alone time." (And, of course, savor each other—that's what these two did.)

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Pure Bliss

bride in sparkling wedding dress
Lisa Poggi Photography

Here are more smiles to warm your heart. We're not crying, you are.

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When Jaws Drop

Lucky Malone Photography

Timing truly is everything—you'll want snapshots of every great expression on your faces. For example, we're glad the photographer captured this bride as her jaw literally dropped.

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Mirror, Mirror

brides doing first look
tPoz Photography

We love how these two mirrored one another as they awed over each other's outfits.

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Sweet Surprise

emotional first look photo
Harwell Photography

You might just be surprised by your partner's happy tears—especially if he or she rarely cries!

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Overwhelmed with Emotion

couple doing first look
Juan & Angie

This ecstatic groom pointed to his beautiful bride in disbelief.

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Winds of Change

first look photo
Rachel Photographs

A breeze gave this portrait an ethereal feel (no wonder the groom looked at his bride like she was sent straight from heaven).

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