September 13, 2023

The First Look: Pros, Cons, and Compromises

This is quite a sensitive and ever-changing topic of conversation in the wedding world. I often chat with brides and hear, “We are so on the fence about doing a first look or not. What do you think?” Deciding whether or not to do a first look on your wedding day is a personal decision between you two as a couple. Now let me put a disclaimer out there before we continue: It’s totally okay if couples choose not to share a first look! My job as your wedding photographer is to educate you, not push you towards a decision!


Spend the day together.

After doing your first look, you can spend time together throughout the day until it’s time for the wedding party to go their separate ways before the ceremony. By doing a first look, you can spend the entire day together after your first look, soaking up every moment of your wedding day TOGETHER instead of apart. Don’t worry; you will still have plenty of time with just your girls and him, just with his guys!

Save time between the ceremony and reception.

If you decide to do a first look, depending on your wedding day timeline, you will have most of your photos completed before the ceremony, leaving fewer photos to take after you say, “I do.” This is great because it won’t leave your guests sitting in cocktail hour getting hangry and ready for food (and my favorite part) cake. It also would allow the two of you to enjoy a private dinner between the two of you before your reception entrance!

More time for portraits

Doing a first look with your groom means more time for bride and groom portraits! After you two share a special moment together, we will ease our way into your romantic bride and groom portraits. We will have more time to capture your photos rather than feeling rushed!

Enjoy an intimate moment.

What a bride really wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time is the reaction. By doing a first look, you can have an intimate moment with your groom on your wedding day without 80-300 people staring at your groom waiting for his reaction. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeousness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch, embrace, or even SPEAK to you. You must wait at least 30 minutes until the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.

Diminishes nerves and anxiety.

You get rid of your nerves and anxiety! All of my couples who have done a first look admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the wedding day after their first look! As you show him your dress, and you twirl around a few times, and then ask him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, you’re the one who can make him most comfortable anyway!


You break “tradition.”

The first con goes without saying, but you break the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride until she walks down the aisle. If you’re superstitious or hard-set on tradition, the first look may not be for you!

Your family and friends won’t be apart of the first look.

While there are ways around this con (like having your family watch through a window, for example), if you choose to do a first look, your family and friends won’t be able to witness your initial reaction to seeing one another.

You won’t be married in your portraits.

Although we will do a few “just married” portraits immediately following the ceremony, you won’t actually be legally married in your bride and groom portraits following the first look. For some, that bothers them; for others, it doesn’t make a difference. Either way, it’s something to realize and consider.

The day will start earlier.

Especially if you are considering a late fall/winter wedding, your ceremony must be much earlier in the day, which means getting ready much earlier. If you decide not to do a first look, all your bride and groom portraits, joint family formals, and bridal parties must be completed after the ceremony. This option will typically bring a cocktail hour for your guests to mingle until your big introduction to the reception!


Do the first look, but leave something out!

You can do the first look without the veil or other accessories to save another element of surprise! Or, go a little wild and walk up in your pajamas with full hair and make-up! The tease of what you’ll look like in the dress will make your partner excited while still getting time to yourselves and easing some nerves before the ceremony.

Do another “first.”

This option is a tear-jerker, FOR SURE. If you don’t want to do a first look but still want a semi-private moment before the ceremony, a first touch may be the solution. Couples can exchange letters while back to back or hold hands from opposite sides of an open door without seeing one another. With a second shooter, we can easily coordinate and have both of your reactions documented! Maybe the sound of your partner’s voice is all you need to soothe the nerves and still get emotional photos of your reactions.

Do a family first look.

The first look with Dad always gets my waterworks rolling. There won’t be a dry eye in the room, and your dad will cherish that moment between the two of you forever and ever. You also should consider doing a first look with siblings, special family members, or grandparents. It’s always a great idea and gives you a special moment with someone you love!


Deciding whether or not to have a first look can be a tough decision and may involve the wishes of many family members. Consider your timeline, the daylight, and how you feel about it all, but know that, at the end of the day, you can always change your mind during the wedding planning process. It’s totally okay if couples choose not to share a first look! I can’t wait to hear what you decide on!