March 26, 2024

First Look Wedding Photos The Intercontinental at The Wharf, Washington D.C


A wedding day first look has become a beloved modern tradition for couples who want to see each other before walking down the aisle and in this blog, we are sharing why we love a great first look and adore when couples incorporate these photos in to their wedding day timeline.

first look
First Look Wedding Day Couple Photos

The “first look” on your wedding day is a special and intimate moment where the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony. Many couples choose to have a first look because it allows them to have a private, emotional moment together before the whirlwind of the day begins.

Seeing each other before the ceremony can help calm nerves, ease anxiety, and create a sense of connection and intimacy that sets the tone for the rest of the day. 

Here are a few of our favorite first look moments with our past Marie Violet Photography couples. 

first look

Moreover, the first look provides an opportunity for beautiful and genuine reactions that are captured by your wedding photographer. These candid moments of joy, surprise, and love make for stunning photos that you will cherish for a lifetime. It also allows for more time for couple portraits and bridal party photos, freeing up the schedule after the ceremony to spend more time with guests and enjoy the celebration. Ultimately, the first look is a personal choice that can enhance the overall experience of your wedding day and create unforgettable memories.

During the first look, emotions run high as the couple see each other for the first time. This is such a special , moment because your partner is seeing you for the first time, fully dressed and looking beautiful. We love when the suprised partner shows so much emotion, and they often gasp, leading to tears of joy, laughter, or simply a comforting embrace.

We loved this candid moment between our couple, Katie + Connnor at their beautiful wedding venue, The Airlie. In this hilarious moment, Katie is showcasing all the wonderful suprises that her wedding dress features, including this discreet but daring front slit, and moments later she showed Connor that her dress had pockets! Yes, you read that correctly, her beautiful dress had pockets!

Chelsea and Austin’s decision to have their first look wedding photos at Cornell University, their Alma Mater, was a beautiful and sentimental choice. Their love story began at the university, making this location filled with cherished memories and symbolism. For many Cornell Alumni, returning to campus for such special occasions is a beloved tradition that honors the place where lifelong friendships were forged and love stories began.

Our groom, Varun could not contain his excitement when he laid eyes on Laxmi and how beautiful she looked in her wedding dress. We adore when our grooms have the grandest expressions during their first look as it makes for some of the sweetest wedding day memories. Since our couple had planned a destination wedding in Lake Como, Italy and due to the pandemic restrictions they opted for a wedding that was closer to home. This beautiful venue in Leesburg, Virginia was the the perfect choice. The Stone Tower Winery had the old-world Italian asethetic they were seeking and having their first look in the vineyard was the perfect choice!

First looks on wedding days have become increasingly popular for several reasons. One of the main reasons is the emotional impact it can have on the couple. Seeing each other for the first time in a private setting before the ceremony allows for an intimate and heartfelt moment that can be cherished for a lifetime. It also provides an opportunity for the couple to calm their nerves while also giving them an intimate space to share their feelings, express their love and to have this time together before the whirlwind of the wedding day begins.

We adored these moments with our 2023 couple, Christina and Graham at The Cumberland Estate in New Kent, Virginia. Our groom was so sweet and very emotional as he was seeing Christina for the first time as his bride-to-be.

First Look Wedding Photos The Intercontinental at The Wharf, Washington D.C

These first look moments will always be some of our favorite moments on your wedding days, because it allows us to step back and capture the most beauitful yet candid, genuine emotions.

This sweet and humorous moment between Maryam + Peter on the rooftop of The Intercontinental Hotel at the Wharf in Washington D.C not only served as a gorgeous scenery but also served as the perfect tucked away area for our couple to have their first look while the wedding day styling was still ongoing.

First Look Wedding Photo


Many couples find that this private moment together before the ceremony helps to not only ease any jitters but additionally, first looks can be practical in terms of scheduling and logistics. Having a private moment before the ceremony can help streamline the timeline of the day, allowing for more time for photos and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. And after the couple’s first look, they can easily transition to capturing their bridal party and family photos.. This allows for your bridal party to enjoy the cocktail hour while you can focus on your extended family formal portraits, and then have flexilbility to either join and mingle with your guests during the cocktail hour, take additional sunset photos together or sneak away and have a first look at your reception space, or take time away from everyone and enjoy a glass of champagne privately.

first look

Our number one reason why we love a first look on your day is that it’s a great opportunity to capture genuine reactions and emotions in a more controlled environment, away from the distractions of the ceremony and guests. We know that for some partners, the idea of couple photos can cause them to be anxious or they feel uncomfortable or nervous in front of the camera. Having these photos take place in a more intinimate and private manner, helps calm nerves and let’s them open up and feel free to express their emotions.

First Look Wedding Photos


We adore a beautiful scenic background that is wide open, with ample space and lush greenery. Depending on your venue, we will select a location ahead of time that allows for you to have a private, intimate moment together, away from guests and staff. We often will graviatate towards beautiful architecture, gardens, manicured lawns, orchards or a breathtaking rooftop. The main focus should be the couple and the background be beautiful but not distracting.


For couples who pefer to not have a first look on their wedding day, we do offer another option that we refer to as a “No Look -First Look.” This allows our couples to be in a space together, usually back to back or on opposite sides of a door or a wall, where they do not physically see one another, but they are together, and can hold hands and still have that inimate moment together.

Our sweet couple Julie + Philip decided upon a “No Look / Firt Look,” for their wedding day. After their getting ready photos were complete, we arranged to have our couple some time together, without breaking their request to “not see one another” before their ceremony. Together, they held hands, read their vows and promises to one another. This truly was a beautiful and heartfelt moment they had together that not only meant the world to them, but was also some of their most meaningful photos as a couple together.

If you desire to be more of a traditionalist on your wedding day, I highly suggest considering this first look alternative as it still allows you to create beautiful, tender and soulful wedding day couple photos together.

Julie + Philips alternative first look photos were discreetly captured on the Manor Porch of the venue property. While everyone was upstairs, this little location served as a beautiful backdrop for their first look photos. The breathtaking architecture of The Great Marsh Estate is still one of my favorite Virginia wedding venue locations!


Typically, we would arrange for our couple to have their first look after we have compelted your getting ready and bridal portraits. Ideally, we want to create these first look photos at least 2 – 2.5 hours before the ceremony to ensure we have ample time and can photograph any additional portraits like photographing the full bridal party and capture immediate family photos before guests begin to arrive for the ceremony. While these portraits are typically photographed during the cocktail hour, having a first look allows you to capture these photos pre-ceremony and you can reserve your cocktail hour portraits to just the extended family portraits and perhaps add additional couple sunset photos or many of our couples are decideing to partake and enjoy the cocktail hour with guests or will tuck themselves away and have some alone time to celebrate their wedding.

Overall, the first look on your wedding day is a personal choice that can enhance the intimacy and emotional connection between the couple. Whether you choose to have a first look or wait to see each other at the ceremony, the most important thing is to savor the moment and celebrate the love you share with your partner as you embark on this new chapter together. Weddings are meant to be unique and reflect your love and commitment to each other, so my greatest advice is do whatever feels right for you as a couple.

If you have any questions about first looks and creating your wedding day timeline, please feel free to reach out to us at Marie Violet Photography and we’d love to help you!

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Adores long weekends with the family poolside, dog lover, and famous Mojito maker. Barefoot gardener, skincare junkie.

As a wedding photographer with over a decade of experience, I love to create beautiful, timeless imagery that captures all the emotions and feelings of the day. From the joyful to the sentimental, and the spontaneous once-in-a-lifetime moments that happen. I pour my heart and soul into each couple to ensure their wedding day is everything they dreamed and more.

I'm originally from Southeastern Canada and have settled in Virginia with my hsuband and three children. When I'm not behind the camera, you will happily find me in my garden or hosting an intimate dinner party. My friends will tell you I make the best mojito. And I've fallen in love with the art of sourdough. I'm a Libra-a hopeless romantic, and I believe that family is everything. And I will always think that retiring to Tuscany, Italy, and restoring an old villa in the countryside is a good idea.

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