Jamie and I get asked often if we decided to do a first look or not. We knew from the beginning that we did not want to see each other before our ceremony, but we did want to pray together. Right before our ceremony, we shared one of the most special moments of our wedding day together, holding hands around a door. It put me at ease to be able to hear his voice and pray together without him seeing me. If you ask me, I think this was the perfect middle between a first look and walking down the aisle!

First Look or Not?
The greatest piece of advice I can give a bride about the answer to this questions is do what feels right for you! One choice isn’t better than the other – they both create meaningful and beautiful moments. Do what you know will be most comfortable for your personality and timeline of your wedding day.

If you are thinking these thoughts, I would recommend doing a first look:
– “I feel like I would be anxious not being able to see my groom before the ceremony.”
– “I want to get a majority of my formal portraits done before the ceremony, so we can enjoy the cocktail hour with our guests.”
– “I want a private moment when my groom sees me for the first time.”
– “It will be dark outside by the time my ceremony is over, and I want beautiful portraits of the two of us.”


Jamie and I decided to host our ceremony outdoors in beautiful, natural light. With the perfectly shaded light and lovely backdrop, I knew this would make for the perfect ceremony space for us. While deciding on your ceremony location, it’s helpful to think through these thoughts:

For Church Ceremonies:
– Does the church allow photography?
– Does the church have any strict rules or parameters for your photographer?
– How is the lighting? Is it dark? Are there any windows that would provide natural light?
– What does the light look like at the specific time of your ceremony?

We recommend churches or chapels that have as much window light as possible!

For Outdoor Ceremonies:
– How is the lighting? Is in under shady tress? Or in the direct sunlight?
– What does the light look like at the specific time of your ceremony?
– Is there surrounding space where your photographer can freely move around to get different shots?

Planning your Ceremony Time
Be sure to check the full “Planning your Wedding Timeline” blogpost for a more comprehensive answer to this question!

We highly recommend that you plan your ceremony around the time of your sunset! You can look up the exact time of your sunset using this calendar. It is best to allow for one hour of photos after your ceremony, if you do not do a first look. Completing all family and bridal party portraits 30 minutes prior to sunset is ideal. For example, if the sun sets at 7:30pm, your timeline might look like this if your ceremony will for 30-45 minutes :

5:15 Ceremony
6:00 Family, Bridal Party, and Bride and Groom portraits
7:00 Done with Photos / Reception begins
7:30 Sunset

From the opinion of a photographer, outdoor natural light will always produce more beautiful images, but it is more important to choose your ceremony location based on what is most important to you. If you have chosen to get married in a church that is meaningful to you, then get married in that church! A good photographer will be able to capture your wedding, no matter what the lighting looks like. If beautiful images are most important to you, then plan for an outdoor wedding ceremony! Just remember to prioritize what’s most important to both of you, as a couple. Nothing can replace the meaning and precious moments that can come from a hosting your ceremony in a special location that you both agree on together.

Click here to read more about how we planned the timeline of our wedding day!

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