Before I decided to write this, I googled this topic and I couldn’t believe the amount of wrong information and advices many of the “popular” wedding websites were giving out about having a first look. A lot of people are under the misconception that if they do a first look, it will take away from the special moment of seeing each other for the first time at the altar or that if you did your first look, your partner wouldn’t cry or have an outburst of emotion when they see you coming down the aisle but that couldn’t be far from the truth. Every couple is different, some cry & some don’t. You’ll be overwhelmed with emotion no matter what, so if you want to see your partner, don’t skip it. Only you know yourself and your partner to know that and just because you saw each other before will not make your walking down the aisle moment any less special, NOTHING will! So don’t let the opinions of other steer you away from your first look because it can be a very beautiful and intimate moment between you and your soon-to-be spouse.
A first look is an intimate and emotional experience and you will have photos of you guys together in that moment. Walking down the aisle is emotional too but you aren’t together in those photos and chances are one of your faces will be away from the camera. More & more couples nowadays are opting for the first look. Majority of our weddings last year did first looks as well. If you decide to go the traditional route and not see each other before, that will ultimately be your decision. Whether or not you decide to do a first look, it’s totally up to you but you should definitely consider some pros of this before making that decision.
Pros & Cons
1. The first look allows you to take most of your photos before the ceremony so that right after it you can join the cocktail hour with your friends & family and start getting drunk early lol
2. It helps get rid of some pre-wedding jitters that you have been holding on to all day and helps ease your nerves right before walking down the aisle.
3. It gives you a moment alone with your partner to slow down and take a breath because the day goes by in a flash and you may not get a moment alone later on. It’s a whirlwind once guests arrive, and having a first look gives you and your partner a few moments together before all of your family and friends surround you.
Pro tip: Make sure to do it in a secluded area where there is no one around or ton of people aren’t watching you so that ACTUALLY have a minute alone. Unless of course you don’t mind everyone being around you.
4. During shorter winter days, having time aside for first look gives you an opportunity to get all your beautiful portraits out of the way before the sun goes down.
5. If you plan to take photos after the ceremony, you can also look at the first look as a chance to take some more photos of just the two of you if you are photo obsessed like me.
Pro tip: You can even find a different location not at the venue but also not too far away from your venue, so you can have some variety in your bridal portraits.
6. You can have your tears out before your ceremony giving you plenty of time for a touch up before the ceremony.
Pro tip: Make sure to bring some napkins with you. Have your photographer hold on to them for you. It will also help you if it’s a hot day outside and your face ends up getting a little bit shiny.
There aren’t a whole lot of cons I can think of and I just wanted to title this post pros & pros but that I don’t think google would like that lol
1. Some people believe that doing a first look will take away from the special moment of seeing each other for the first time at the aisle but having talked to a other brides, they said that it didn’t take anything away from the aisle moment and it was equally special. Having shot multiple weddings, I can tell you from experience that the couples that didn’t do a first look didn’t necessarily have a dramatic effect upon seeing each other at the altar for the first time. But plenty of people forego the first look.
Pro tip: Make sure to have at least an hour or more to take all the photos AFTER the ceremony so that you don’t have to rush through them because getting all the family together for photos is a task in its own.
2. During summer days doing a first look before the ceremony might mean that the light could be really wonky if your venue is the kind where there is absolutely no shaded areas to take portraits. But that isn’t such a bad thing at all.
3. This one isn’t really a con but to be able to fit a first look into your timeline, you would need to start getting ready even earlier which means you would have to wake up even earlier which also isn’t a bad thing because you probably may not be able to sleep because of the jitters anyway.
4. Having other people around could add to your nerves. If both or either one of you are on the introverted side, it may feel awkward to you and you could clam up even more in front of the camera.
Pro tip: Have your photo and video people be a little bit further away from you and shoot with a long lens so you still have a bit of privacy with your partner. Also tell your wedding party that you want to have a private first look.
After reading this, if you are torn and want to do a first look but not see each other, there are other ways you can do it.
Where both of you stand by a door or a wall between you, facing away from each other and hold hands and talk or pray. You are still able to touch each other but you just can’t see each other.
You can write letters or a favorite poem to each other and read them together.
First look with your parent:
If you decided to skip the first look with your spouse but still want some sort of a first look then you can consider doing it with your parent. These can be just as emotional and special since this is one of the last moments before a father sees his daughter before she becomes a wife.
Another fun thing to do is having the groom blindfolded the entire time. You still will enjoy all the benefits of the first look but you will still be able to preserve the tradition of having your groom see you for the first time as you walk down the aisle.
Ultimately it’s up to you and your partner to decide whether you should have a first look or not. After reading the pros and cons above, I hope that you are able to make an informed decision. If you are still on the fence, I have put together a Q&A on some of the most common questions you may have.
How long does a first look usually last?
A first look can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. There can also be a certain amount of time needed to prep as well as after for portraits, so extra time may need to be factored in for your photographer to prepare.
What am I supposed to do during a first look?
Just be in the moment and be yourself! There are no rules so just do what feels natural. If you feel like you need to add an extra element, you can exchange a small gift or a note.
Who should walk out and who should be waiting?
Ideally, it’s always the groom walks out first and is waiting so that there is less chance of him seeing you. If you are a same sex couple, it depends on your preference on who you want to go first.
Where is the best place to have a first look?
The best spot is one that provides privacy and has good lighting as well as shade if the sun is too bright out for photos. A remote location where outsiders are not visible and where there is minimal distraction is ideal. You want the moment to be as intimate as possible.
I hope this helped! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, we are happy to help.