tori petrillo


tori petrillo

Should We Do a First Look?

Whenever I’m chatting with my couples during their initial consultation, I find that they’re either on the fence about sharing a first look or completely against it. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph both traditional weddings and weddings where the couple chose to do a first look. While I would never expect all of my couples to go with the untraditional route, I DO think there are some benefits worth sharing!

Smooth Flow

With a traditional timeline, after the ceremony ends, we’ll have a two hour time block scheduled for family formals, bridal party portraits, and bride and groom photos. If the ceremony location is different than the reception location, guests will likely have to wait it out until cocktail hour begins. This can make the timeline start to feel a little choppy.

Ideally, with a first look, we would schedule:

  • 45 minutes of bride and groom portrait time
  • 45 minutes for bridal party portrait time
  • 30 minutes for family formal portrait time


With a first look timeline, we’re able to prioritize bride and groom portraits. Since they’re scheduled first, we can minimize of any feelings of being rushed or under pressure. With a traditional timeline, bride and groom portraits are always scheduled last. If the family formals and bridal party photos take longer than expected, I may not be able to deliver as many bride and groom photos as you had hoped, simply because the venue timeline might not allow for it.

On a related side note, you’ll look your best because I’ll be photographing you shortly after you’re done getting ready rather than after the ceremony & family formals!

More Portrait Time

As I mentioned above, first looks can take anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. Think about ALL of the beautiful portraits that you can decorate your new home with! Usually, bride and groom portraits feel a bit like a race against the clock with a traditional timeline – literally and figuratively. We usually have only 20-30 minutes to take portraits before a) the sun sets and/or b) we need to get ready for grand entrances.

They Ease Nerves

Real talk: you’re going to be nervous for the sole reason that you’re getting married! Now, add in the fact that you’ll have 200+ pairs of eyes on you and your groom who are anxiously waiting to see your reactions. Cue all of the nerves! Doing a first look beforehand gets most of those jitters out of the way. They give you a chance to breathe, soak in the moment, and relax. Also, they’re the closest thing that you’re going to get to “alone time” on a wedding day.

One concern that I hear from my brides that are considering a first look is that they’re worried their groom won’t have a reaction when they walk down the aisle. I can say from experience that the grooms reaction is usually even MORE priceless when the ceremony starts. I think that’s because everything starts to become very real at that moment!

You Get to Enjoy Cocktail Hour

Doing a first look allows you to go and enjoy cocktail hour with all of your guests. You’ll be all done with taking photos after the ceremony is over. But that’s not including 5 minutes of sunset portraits during your reception, of course 🙂 Family and friends have travelled from all over the map to come see and celebrate alongside of you. You probably haven’t seen many of these people in while, and I’m sure you’d rather be enjoying their company instead of taking photos. Plus, cocktail hour food? Enough said.

So there you have it! With all of this said, you should decide whether or not to do a first look based on what feels right for you as a couple. It’s part of my job to give you all of the information I’ve learned from my experiences so that you can make the best possible decision for yourself on your wedding day. I hope this helps!

Click here to see photos from Krysti & Taylor’s first look!


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