First Looks

This section is only applicable if you've opted to do a first look before the ceremony.

Bride in a white dress smiles over her shoulder, groom in blue suit walks ahead in a lush Ottawa forest.
Groom in vibrant blue suit smiling at bride during first look in lush Ottawa forest.
Bride in elegant white gown and groom in blue, holding hands and smiling in a lush Ottawa forest.

Thinking about a first look on your wedding day? This intimate moment before the ceremony offers a private space for you and your partner to see each other in wedding attire for the first time. It's a personal choice, but I'm here to help outline the benefits and considerations. A first look can calm nerves, provide time for extra photos, and allow more celebration time with guests. However, it's essential to ensure it aligns with your day's vision. This section explores if a first look is right for you and your spouse, ensuring your day remains true to your love story.


Challenges of a First Look


Adjusting Your Timeline

A first look requires setting aside extra time before the ceremony — 15 minutes for the first look itself or an additional hour if you're also taking formal photos with the bridal party and family. Refer to the TIMELINE section for a clearer picture of how it can fit into your wedding day.


Breaking Tradition

Opting for a first look means departing from the traditional moment of the groom seeing the bride as she walks down the aisle, which might not sit well with everyone.


Mixed Reactions

Not all grooms show a lot of emotion, which could make for an awkward moment if that's what you're counting on.

Location: Is there an appropriate location for a first look to take place? Usually a first look takes place closer to your ceremony start time, so if it's important for your guests to not see you as they arrive, consider where you can have a private moment for this part of your day.

Groom in tears during wedding ceremony at rustic Ottawa venue, dressed in a black suit with a red tie.
Overwhelmed groom wiping tears as he sees bride in a forest in Ottawa for first look, sunlight filtering through trees.
Smiling groomsman in military uniform next to an older man, anticipation at Ottawa wedding ceremony.

Benefits of a First Look


Private Moments

A first look offers a rare chance for just the two of you to be together on your busy day, helping to calm nerves and savor the moment quietly. I'll keep my distance, ensuring privacy until you signal you’re ready to move on. I've even seen my couple prepare private vows to share with each other during this time.


Enjoying Your Guests

Doing formal photos beforehand frees you to join your guests during cocktail hour, ensuring you've greeted everyone early on. This can help keep the reception on schedule.


Breaking Outdated Traditions

The tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony harks back to times of arranged marriages, a notion that's less relevant today. Plus, first looks often result in deeply emotional photos that might not happen in a public setting.


Fresh Look for the Ceremony

Many brides choose not to wear their veil or carry their bouquet for the first look, saving something special to surprise their groom during the ceremony.


Calming Nerves

Particularly for grooms who are nervous about the ceremony, seeing their bride beforehand can ease tension.

More Photo Opportunities: A first look adds variety to your photo gallery with images captured under different lighting throughout the day.

Weather Insurance: Opting for a first look can be a safeguard against unpredictable weather, ensuring you get beautiful photos regardless of the afternoon forecast.


Essential for Late Ceremonies

If you’re planning an evening ceremony, especially in the fall or winter when days are shorter, a first look becomes almost necessary to capture those bright, outdoor photos.


And if you do decide to incorporate a first look into your wedding day, consider choosing a meaningful song to play during that moment – it's like setting the emotional backdrop for this once-in-a-lifetime moment. As you turn to see each other, let a tune that holds special significance to both of you fill the air, making the moment feel even more personal and touching. Every time you hear that song in the future, you'll be instantly transported back to the overwhelming joy and anticipation of seeing your partner on your wedding day.

This photo is of one my brides from my 2023 season who wasn't sure what her reaction was going to be during the first look. The emotion on her face says more than words could.

Bride embracing groom in a heartfelt hug, holding a bouquet, in an Ottawa park.

Farrah Sanjari Photography // Ottawa Wedding, Engagement & Portrait Photographer