Are you a “First Look” or “Aisle Moment” Bride?


January 30, 2018

One of the questions we ask our sweet brides as they begin to prepare for their wedding day is, “Are you a ‘First Look’ or ‘Aisle Moment’ bride?” And if you’ve booked a wedding date with us in 2018/19, this is a question you will definitely want an answer to! Right now you may be wondering, “So what’s the difference? Does it really make that big of an impact on how I plan my big day?” We are here to say, “Absolutely!!” In fact, the answer to that question can be the foundation for laying out the timeline of your wedding day!

By definition, a first look is where the bride and groom take a private moment a few hours to a few minutes before the ceremony to see each other aisle-ready for the first time. This has become an increasingly popular trend among our brides and grooms for several reasons which we will list out for you below! However, we still have quite a few brides opting for that “aisle moment”, and that’s equally as wonderful! Regardless of which one you choose, we are going to help you plan out your timeline based on that choice!


Reasons we LOVE the first look:

1. It is a truly private moment between the bride and groom, one that is carefully captured by yours truly! I’m here to give you as much (or as little) coaching as you need! For brides and grooms who feel some anxiety in regards to large crowds of people, or truly just crave a quiet peaceful moment to soak everything in, the first look should be given careful consideration! Unlike the walk down the aisle, you get to experience that wonderment together, in a close personal manner where you can talk (he can tell you how gorgeous you look in that dress!!) and express feelings that you may have been uncomfortable sharing in front of a large group.

2. It allows for the majority of your portraits to be taken before the ceremony even begins! With the exception of sunset portraits (we recommend budgeting 15-20 minutes expressly for these), most of your formal shots can be taken before the ceremony in a less rushed fashion than during cocktail hour. You can easily get 30-40 minutes MORE of those gorgeous bride/groom shots that usually end up hanging on the walls of your home. Also, you get the chance to enjoy those amazing apps you paid for during cocktail hour!!

3. For winter brides, the first look should be given EXTRA consideration. In the winter, the sun sets around 4 pm, which can be earlier than even the start of most of our couples’ wedding ceremonies. Chances are, those gorgeous naturally-lit portraits on our website and social media accounts played a BIG part in your choice to hire us to capture your big day, and in order to make those happen, we would need to start shooting portraits about two hours (if not slightly earlier) than sunset.


For my brides who have been DREAMING of that aisle moment:

1. It’s tradition, and we are all for your choice to embrace that! Walk down that aisle with the confidence of a queen! And if you feel like shedding some tears, embrace it! Trust us…even the worst “ugly cry” looks ten times better than the faces we make when trying to hold those tears back! Be mindful however, that not all of our grooms are super comfortable showing a lot of emotion in a public setting, so if he doesn’t cry, that’s absolutely ok!!

2. When planning your timeline, you are going to want to opt for a longer cocktail hour. We need at least an hour and a half following the ceremony to get in family portraits, bridal party portraits, and our personal favorite, portraits of the two of you! We will definitely be pulling you out for about 15-20 minutes during dinner if for some reason things ran late (they usually do!) or if we feel we need to grab just a few more shots! You can help us out by keeping family portraits down to immediate family (grandparents, parents, siblings) only, or, by scheduling an even longer cocktail hour if you want some extra relatives thrown in there!

3. Make time before the ceremony so we can grab him with his guys, you with your girls, and a few bridal portraits as well! We’ve noticed a trend of guests arriving even earlier to weddings than ever before, so we will want to start early enough that we can get you into hiding before anyone shows up. We want that “aisle moment” to be everything you’ve ever dreamed it would be!


In closing, we decided to consult some of our sweet 2017 brides on BOTH sides of the equation! After all, who better to hear it from than some actual Lindsay Brides who successfully navigated the wedding planning?!

First Look:

“We chose to do a first look for two reasons. The first reason was because the time of year we got married. We wanted to get photos together before the ceremony so we had enough light. The second reason we chose to do a first look was so when we saw each other for the first time it was more intimate for the two of us. We wanted a private moment before the ceremony!”
—Karena (12-2-17)

From the Photographer:

The first look was a really great choice for this sweet couple because their wedding took place in
December! With the sunset happening at 4:30, it gave us the opportunity to grab a ton of gorgeous natural-light portraits before their ceremony, leaving the dramatic “in the brewery” shots for later when the absence of sunlight didn’t matter! Chris still teared up when Karena walked down the aisle, so this lovely bride really got the best of both worlds!


“We chose the first look because we wanted that special “moment” between the two of us with no one around. For us to embrace our love alone before we shared it with everyone else. It was the most intimate part of our wedding and we were both filled with so much emotion. It was an incredible feeling. Nothing is better than the way a groom looks at his bride when he first sees her.”

– Andrew and Alissa

From the Photographer:

Andrew and Alissa’s choice of a first look made perfect sense and really allowed them to get the most out of their wedding day!  We were able to get everything but family portraits done before the ceremony, and the bride and groom were actually able to enjoy their cocktail hour with their guests!  We loved this wedding so much that it became one of our sample weddings for 2018!  

Aisle Moment:

“We chose to stick with a traditional wedding and not see each other before the ceremony. We felt that this would add more excitement and anticipation to the moment when we finally see each other as I walked down the aisle. I remember feeling a rush of emotions. I couldn’t believe that the day had finally arrived. I was so happy seeing my soon to be husband smiling at the alter as I made my way down the aisle with my father at my side. It was such a special moment and one I will never forget. When I asked Vinnie, he felt that words couldn’t express the love and happiness he had felt when seeing me and a moment that will never be forgotten.”
—Samantha (9-2-17)

From the Photographer:

“Sam and Vinnie rocked the aisle moment planning, so we had plenty of time for portraits following their ceremony! We began with family portraits at the church before visiting the other portrait locations on their list. Because these two really took the time to plan their day with portraits in mind, we were even able to take a few minutes for some epic smoke bomb shots!”


From the Bride:

“Ever since we started the early conversations about getting married (even before we were engaged) Zachary always made me promise that we would not see each other until the ceremony. The suspense and anticipation for that anticipated moment was intense, but the look on his face when he finally got to see me was priceless. His reaction was pure and unforced, making that moment even more cherished to me. It was the surprise of a lifetime for both of us, and the best decision we could have made.”

From the Groom:

“I think the biggest reason we waited to see each other was to make the ceremony even more special. We wanted to have that raw emotion in that moment. Also, by waiting to see each other it allowed me to spend and share some really memorable moments with my groomsmen as we all prepared for the ceremony. My groomsmen helped me through the butterflies I was feeling in anticipation of the ceremony, and me seeing her for the first time.”

—Zach and Elana (7-29-17)

From the Photographer:

Zach and Elana had an especially ideal situation for a couple wanting the aisle moment!  Both the wedding ceremony and reception were held on her family farm (her dad is SUPER dad!!), so we were able to move through portraits relatively quickly since not much traveling had to be done!  They also really made sure that everyone knew where to be and at what time.  During the reception, we spotted some super gorgeous light outside, so Nathan and I grabbed them for some golden hour shots that were truly magical!  One other awesome thing that they did was to make sure that there ceremony location was in soft, even light!  This makes for gorgeous, Pinterest-like ceremony shots!  


LOVE the tips and tricks in this article? Let us know what type of helpful planning info you’d like to read about next!!

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We’re Lindsay & Nathan Varner


Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days capturing the kinds of images that make you stop, smile and ask time to please slow down. Your story, your love, is beautiful and I can’t wait to capture it in images you will treasure for years to come. 

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