Updated on September 10, 2020, originally published on June 17, 2014
Should you have a First Look on your wedding day?
It’s one of the questions we get asked the most at our initial consult coffee date. Brides (and their grooms) are often torn between the tradition of a grand church entrance and the more modern concept of a First Look.
It’s an important decision that every bride and groom need to make for themselves. Whether or not to have a First Look affects the entire timeline and flow of your wedding day, so you’ll want to look at the logistics of each option!
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the First Look, and in this blog post we’re going to tell you why.
It is a special time before the wedding ceremony where the bride and groom get to see each other for the first time. Most of the time, the First Look happens as soon as the bride and groom are dressed and ready for portraits. The photographers step back inconspicuously, capturing that beautiful moment without interrupting.
From a photography standpoint, those First Look pictures can be some of the sweetest, most emotional pictures of the day. There are no distractions. You simply have each other in real, raw, emotional moments. You can revel in sharing that moment without worrying about keeping back the tears so your mascara doesn’t run, no worries about tripping over your dress as you walk down the aisle, no thoughts about 200 people looking at you.
It’s just you being together, and that’s all you care about. It’s so heartfelt and so real.
You can cry and hug and laugh all you want to.
I’ll tell you a little secret. Over and over again, we’ve found that the First Look doesn’t take away from that special, never-be-forgotten moment of walking down the aisle. In fact, it might even make it better.
We’ve found that when you don’t do a First Look, there is a TON of nervous energy before the ceremony. The nerves of seeing each other for the first time mix with anxiety over having a couple of hundred people watching you closely.
On the other hand, we’ve seen over and over what a calming the First Look has for both the bride and groom. There are still a few ceremony nerves (it’s normal!), but everyone is so much more chill.
There will always be a special reaction by your groom as you walk down the aisle. A First Look helps him anticipate that moment with more excitement and less nerves.
It’s kind of like having that first moment twice.
There are many practical benefits to a First Look, as well. The biggest advantage is being able to do many of your pictures before the ceremony instead of afterward while the guests are waiting.
Every photographer is different, but we typically need about 90 minutes after the ceremony for all the picture combinations. Without a First Look, you’ll need to do family portraits (30 minutes), the full bridal party (20 minutes), and bride and groom portraits (30+ minutes). An hour and a half is quite awhile for your guests to wait, even with a cocktail hour.
And let’s face it – by the time the ceremony is over, most of the wedding party (including the bride and groom) are ready to eat and party, too! Our couples love being able to grab just a handful of Just Married portraits (it has an emotion all of its own!) before heading in for some food.
Joel and I had a First Look at our wedding 11 years ago. We loved it because we could spend the entire day together. No sneaking around trying to hide from each other. We relished each moment as we experienced the day together.
We will never regret having each other in almost every single wedding day memory we have.
The tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding actually originated from the time of arranged marriages. They didn’t want the groom to back out of the marriage at the last minute if the bride was not attractive. They waited until it was too late before he could see his bride for the first time! Although the original purpose of the tradition has obviously gone by the wayside, the heart of the tradition actually isn’t very romantic at all!
If you’re really set on not having a First Look, don’t feel bad! There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping to the traditional practice of not seeing each other before the wedding. Several of our brides have chosen to do that, and they still have an amazing wedding experience. There is no right or wrong side to this decision.
It’s absolutely possible to have a joyful, meaningful, smooth wedding day without having a First Look. Your planner or photographer will help you work through those logistics on your timeline so you can plan accordingly!
Whether you choose to have a First Look or not, your wedding day will be filled to the brim with the most incredible memories.
Want more wedding planning inspiration? Don’t miss our super popular Tipping Etiquette: When and How To Tip At You Wedding!
Enjoy some 2014 throwback pictures from the original blog post!
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