Considering a First Look

June 24, 2022


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First looks have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, and one question often hear from couples is about whether or not they should consider a first look. To which I say, it’s entirely up to you. But I think it is important for couples to understand that this one decision will entirely shape the wedding day as a whole.

So, if you’re still contemplating whether or not to have a first look, here are a few pros and cons you might want to consider.

The Pros

Get nerves out of the way before the ceremony

Since many couples choose not to see each other the night before the wedding, and decide to dress for the wedding in separate suites, the first look (whether it happens before the ceremony or while walking down the aisle) can often be highly emotional.

By having this exchange in private, away from your guests, you’ll still have the memory, but it could also save a more self-conscious groom or bride from tearing up in front of all your guests. And, since your photographer can control the lighting and location, you will likely come away with more intimate, beautiful photos of the experience.

Enjoy a few private moments together

Weddings are a magical time to be surrounded by friends and family, but they’re also a frenzy of festivities and loved ones. Don’t forget who this day is really about.

It’s important to be able to share some quiet moments together, and a first look is definitely one of those moments. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend some time together in private, exchange gifts, take photos, and just take in the moment together.

You’ll get most of your photos done before the ceremony

This is my favorite reason to consider a first look on your wedding day. It’s not uncommon for couples at their wedding to miss an hour or more of their cocktail hour or reception. Couples photos, wedding party photos, family formals and sunset portraits often take up a lot of time in the time between the wedding ceremony and reception. As a bonus, I love getting to take some couples portraits in the reception area while everything is still perfect.

One of the biggest benefits of choosing a first look is that your photographer can take 90% of these images before the ceremony even begins. This way, you’re fresh and excited for your wedding photos, and also have the opportunity to actually enjoy your wedding cocktail hour and reception.

The Cons

It might make walking down the aisle less emotional

This might be the most iconic moment of a wedding day, thanks to so many movies and TV shows, but I’d say this point is a bit of a mixed bag. After seeing so many weddings, I can tell you that sometimes the expectation of greeting a crying partner at the alter, leaves someone feeling disappointed. Some grooms, just don’t get emotional that way, I know mine didn’t.

Alternatively, a couple that does get very emotional, may not have the poignant experience they would’ve had they skipped the first look. On the other hand, some couples choose to do a first look, and still are stricken when they lock eyes walking down the aisle, the experience could be 50/50. All I can really tell you is that these are all possibilities, and the experience is different for everybody.

It won’t be part of your wedding ceremony

For traditionalists, the ritual of not seeing each other before the wedding ceremony is as important as other readings or symbolic traditions during the wedding. By choosing not to have a first look, that moment you meet at the ceremony becomes a symbolic part of the ceremony.

Your wedding timeline begins much earlier on your wedding day

One of the biggest benefits of a first look is that it essentially pushes your wedding timeline up a few hours, so you can enjoy the wedding festivities later, but this also means being completely finished with any wedding day preparations and getting ready much earlier too.

For some couples, this could potentially pose a serious problem. If you or your partner aren’t early risers or have a tendency to run late, skipping the first look and opting for a more traditional wedding day timeline might be your best bet.



Photographer, Equestrian and Scuba Diver. Lover of Fashion, Art and Interior Design. Collector of Cookbooks. Creator of Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Travel Itineraries. Obsessed with Haute Restaurants and Hot Yoga.

When Elizabeth isn't photographing destination weddings, she's scuba diving (warm waters, if at all possible), riding her Iberian Warmblood, or spending time with her sweet family in Central California. She's just as good at planning menus as planning trips, and she makes a legendary pomegranate and rosemary baked brie. 



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Planning your wedding day around the lighting, the venue and your wedding party is important to capturing the wedding images of your dreams. Use these recommended timelines as a guide to planning your day.


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