Shea & Jess | The First Look

I am putting the final touches on the photos from Shea & Jess' incredibly dreamy wedding day and I had to share this adorable moment! This is their First Look, the moment when they saw one another for the first time on their wedding day. I'd like to take a minute and chat about how awesome First Looks really are. I don't give them enough credit! I was a bride who was set on tradition and I did NOT want to see my groom before the walk down the aisle! I wanted that "moment," that reaction!

Well let me tell you how romantic my reaction was! I was a BALL of NERVES walking down the aisle! I literally shook (I don't even like to watch my wedding video because I still cringe. So embarrassing!) as I speed-walked (oops!) down the aisle. Now obviously I am not saying that all brides will have this super overwhelming peak of nervousness (and the truth is I haven't seen a single bride shake as she walked down the aisle... nope... that's just me!), BUT, I am saying that I wish I had gone with a First Look on my wedding day!

Why? Because all I dreamt about was that REACTION... that moment. And guess what? It didn't HAVE to be during a long walk down the aisle and I kind of wish it hadn't been. I wish we could have had a private moment together before the day really kicked off. A small reveal. A moment to twirl in my dress and hear him tell me immediately how beautiful I looked. A moment to get our thoughts out and to reflect on the importance of the ceremony ahead.

I understand not all brides need privacy for this but that's why a First Look is so awesome! It has SO many benefits!

  1. You have more TIME for pictures! Couples who decide to do a First Look receive up to 40% MORE portraits of them together! Between your first look, easing into portraits together, having additional time for bridal party and family portraits, then a few quick snaps AFTER the ceremony... you get a lot more pictures with a variety of settings!
  2. You actually get planned, intimate time with your groom on your wedding day! A time to reflect with one another and enjoy the anticipation and excitement of the day! Without a first look you are likely going to go from ceremony to pictures and straight to the reception... the end of the night will be here before you have had the chance to think about being alone!
  3. You have a chance to let the nerves slide away! Imagine how much more enjoyable your day will be if you both are able to relax and simply enjoy each other and the grandness of the day!
  4. With a first look you can have a large portion of pictures taken care of before your guests even begin to arrive to the ceremony! That way you will have a seamless transition from ceremony to reception, avoiding making your guests wait while you finish pictures and giving you more time to celebrate with the people who love and support you!

Jess & Shea decided to have a First Look before their ceremony primarily so they could have a few moments alone to reflect on the day AND knock out a large portion of wedding pictures before the ceremony began.

Imagine this... the nerves have built up and Jess taps Shea on the shoulder and he spins around... He can embrace her, hold her, cry with her! ENJOYing the moment... and she - the reaction! They share the moment together without onlookers. The nerves begin to diminish. Then we slowly start snapping a few pictures here and there and we ease into portraits. They are comfortable, happy, GLOWING. And there is NO pressure. No "15 more minutes!" from the coordinator. Just a bride and her groom having beautiful portraits taken as they enjoy one another on their wedding day.

Look how adorable they are!!


I LOVE these moments!! This is what fuels my fire for shooting weddings...!!

Liz Cook

Liz Cook is a wedding, birth, and motherhood photographer based in Central Virginia. Her intuition and creative perspective allow her to connect both professionally and personally with her subjects, and thus, her portfolio is saturated with authentic emotion. Whether she's sharing her story with fellow entrepreneurs or enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, Liz is both present and passionate about capturing and celebrating life. Her work has been featured by O "Oprah" Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Glitter Guide, Essence Magazine, domino, Rue Magazine, among others.