One of the top questions I get asked by my couples is “should we do a first look?” Whether or not you do one is entirely up to you, but it’s important to understand that the decision is going to entirely shape your wedding timeline!
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to do a first look, read on because I’m sharing the top pros and cons of doing a first look, as well as some quotes from my real couples on why they did or did not choose a first look!!
More time post-ceremony to spend with guests
When my couples are deciding on whether or not to do a first look, one of my first questions is “do you have a lot of guests coming from out of town?”
The reason I ask this is because by doing a first look, you’re opening up your timeline to spend more time with guests, and less time with your photographer after the ceremony!
If you have a lot of guests who you haven’t seen in years, having that extra time to mingle post-ceremony might be really important to you.
One of the biggest pros of a first look (and one of the main reasons it has become so popular) is because it gives you the ability to finish wedding party photos, as well as some couples portraits, and sometimes even family photos before the ceremony.
The more photos done before the ceremony means the less you have to do after your ceremony when you’re wanting to party with your guests!
Another important note here is that if you’re getting married during a time of year when the sun sets before 6, you will need to decide between having an early ceremony, doing a first look, or having your post-ceremony photos done with flash. This is why I strongly recommend first looks for my winter couples!
You can spend a moment together alone
I’m sure you’ve heard it before – but your wedding day truly will FLY by.
Unless you consciously build time into your timeline for some “alone moments,” you likely will not get an alone moment with your spouse until the wedding is over!
I am a huge fan of giving my couples those quiet moments to soak in their day.
You will ease some nerves
If you’re an anxious person, a first look is sure to calm some of those nerves. Many couples recall that the moment their wedding day anxiety went away was the moment they saw their spouse!
You won’t have the classic “down the aisle” moment
To be honest, this is really the only con of a first look. For some couples, all of the “pros” of a first look pail in comparison to losing that special aisle moment.
I think it’s important to note that many couples still have an incredibly special moment as they come down the aisle, even after a first look. I often see the spouse at the end of the aisle cry, even if they have already seen their significant other earlier in the day!
But if you’ve been dreaming of that aisle moment your whole life, then maybe a first look isn’t for you, and that’s okay.
No matter how your timeline works out, an experienced photographer will know how to capture beautiful images for you, before or after sun down.
A first touch or first prayer are great options for couples who want to forego a first look, but still want those quiet moments together before the ceremony.
You can do this without seeing each other, but it gives you the chance to talk to each other, calm some nerves, and even say a prayer together if you’re into that!
Still deciding? I have compiled some quotes from my couples about their first look experiences!
Linda A | February 2020
“I wasn’t sure if first look would be cheesy or cliche, neither of which I was aiming for on the big day. But as I pictured walking down the aisle with 125 guests, and that being our first eye-lock moment, it seemed overwhelming to both of us. So a first look is what we went with. After a restful night at The Breakers hotel, I woke up for hair and makeup and shortly after I walked to meet my husband down the beautiful courtyard. My amazing hair girl was there helping. Someone was snapping polaroid pics which I highly recommend. The wind was insanely in my favor and my long beyond-the-train length veil took flight. We embraced. I gave him my card. Everything was in slow motion. The photos are insane. Even in the rush of the morning, time stopped. It was worth it and perfect. Consider how a first look could fit into your wedding plans, this sacred moment will last you a life time.”
Katie M | October 2020
“I chose to do a first touch over a first look because, as a guest at someone’s wedding, my favorite part has always been seeing the grooms reaction as he sees his bride for the first time on their wedding day. I find that to be such a special moment and it was something I’ve always wanted to share with my family and friends as well. The first touch can be just as intimate and special as a first look, and in my opinion even more special. It forces you to use your other senses to experience the day. We take in so much visually as humans that it can over power every other sense you have. It was so special to feel my grooms hand and envision in my head what he looked like. Then, when we prayed, I could hear the quiver in his voice amplified as he held back tears. A first touch even forces you to acknowledge the scents around you – for me, it was my bouquet because I was holding it so close to me during our first touch!”
Sarah V | November 2020
“Although there were many [wedding planning] decisions that I stressed about for days on end, one of the most simple was my choice to do a first look with my fiancé. Now, as I reflect back on my wedding day, I don’t have the words to fully express how special that moment was. We were able to pause all of our nerves and simply focus on one another, rather than the anticipation of what was to come. We were able to be our authentic selves without the pressure of knowing that all of our closest friends and family members were staring at us. And of course, we were able to get just a few more kisses in before becoming Mr and Mrs. I am beyond happy with my decision to do a first look and I have pictures that will keep this special memory alive forever.”
Jill R | November 2020
“I am so glad we did a first look. Getting to see each other before our ceremony, be with our bridal party, and just celebrate the fact that we were about to walk down the aisle, was so surreal. It gets out those jitters, reminds you what you’re there for, and makes the moment so much more special to know that the next time you see each other will be as husband and wife!”
It’s clear that while there are pros and cons to both decisions, most often couples base their decision on their emotions! Ask yourself how doing a first look makes you feel. Excited? Untraditional? Uneasy? Calm?
Ultimately, this is your wedding and you get to do what makes the most sense for you. I hope that this guide was helpful and gives you more clarity on whether or not you will do a first look!