The Best Locations for a First Look on your Wedding Day

As your wedding photographer, part of my job is to help you with scoping out and selecting photo locations. But, if you’re anything like me, you want to get a jumpstart on brainstorming possible locations finalizing everything at your timeline meeting. One often-overlooked photo location is the first look location. First look photos are always amazing because of the big emotions in them. However, they can be taken to the next level when you lay eyes on your spouse-to-be in front of a gorgeous backdrop.

Need some guidance for choosing your first look location before planning picks up speed? Here are the three locations I always consider:

Where You’re Getting Ready

If you’re getting ready at a hotel, you will have a few options. You can consider having your first look in the lobby, on the rooftop, or right outside the hotel. If your getting-ready suite is large with good lighting, you can also do the first look inside the suite.

If you want to do your first look in any common spaces of your hotel—like the rooftop or lobby—make sure to ask the hotel for permission. Some hotels, like the Chicago Athletic Association, require you to purchase a photography permit, even if you’re staying there.

If you’re getting ready at your place or at an Airbnb, you’ve got plenty of options! We can scope out the backyard, well-decorated common spaces in your building, or even a favorite corner of your apartment.

What to consider when choosing a first look location
Taken by Chelsea for Ed and Aileen Photography

Nearby Where You’re Getting Ready

Take a look at what’s within one city block of your getting ready location (trust me, you won’t want to walk much farther). I usually keep an eye out for green spaces, medians, murals, and cute side streets.

The important thing to remember about first looks is that the focus is your reactions. So don’t stress too much about picking a “perfect” spot. Any green space, patio, side street, or brick wall can become the perfect backdrop to your reactions.

Location options for your first look
Taken by Chelsea for Ed and Aileen Photography

Anywhere That Has Meaning

Hear me out—if we need to slap a blindfold on a groom, we will. Whether it’s an “official” blindfold, a spare tie, or a spare mask laying around.

About a quarter of my couples opt to do their first look at the same spot where they’re doing wedding photos. Not only does it save a little bit of time, but it makes for great candids—like you two holding hands on the trolley or the groom wandering around with a tie on his face.

What to consider when choosing a first look location
Taken by Chelsea for Ed and Aileen Photography

At the end of the day, remember that your first look location really isn’t what it’s all about. The primary goal of your first look photos will be to capture all of the emotions between you and your partner—wherever you’re standing is just the icing on the cake.

Still not sure where you want to do your first look?

I make sure to chat through options with all my couples to find the best first look spot for them.

If you’re in the early stages of planning and still on the hunt for a wedding photographer or videographer, I’m more than happy to help! Let’s chat more and see if I can help you ditch the overwhelm and cross one more vendor off your to-do list.

Hey, I'm Chelsea

I'm a Chicago wedding photographer and videographer who's on a mission to take the stress out of wedding planning, one witty anecdote at a time.

A wedding photography and videography studio for personality-packed couples who want to remember the way they tore it up on the dance floor just as much as the way it felt to say “I do”.