A first look is a newer, non-traditional trend where the couple is allowed to see each other before the ceremony. Seeing one another before walking down the aisle used to be taboo. It was rumored to be “bad luck.” Now, first looks are extremely common and is an opportunity for you and your fiancé to have an intimate moment with one another without anyone around. 

Weddings are one of my favorite events to photoshoot! Being able to witness a couple tie the knot and commit themselves to each other forever is an experience unlike any other. When couples come to me seeking out a photographer, I often ask them a few questions to ensure I can best serve them on their special day. One of the most common questions I get, usually from the bride, is “should I do a first look?”

Ultimately the decision to have a first look or not is entirely up to you and your soon-to-be spouse. I wanted to play devil’s advocate and tell you exactly why I think you should do a first look as well as explain why some of my brides in the past have opted not to. Ready?

3 Reasons Why You Should Do A First Look:

Reason #1: Having a first look is a great opportunity to shake off pre-ceremony jitters and allow you two a moment alone before walking down the aisle. 

Wedding days can be stressful and if you ask past brides and grooms they will most likely tell you the day flew by in the blink of an eye. A first look is an awesome opportunity to capture the moment your partner (or a parent) sees you for the first time. It also allows for a calm and intimate moment to decompress, take photos, speak with one another and truly just be with each other before you have all your guests wanting your time and attention. Once you’ve walked down the aisle, there isn’t much freedom to talk or hug after seeing one another for the first time. You may have to wait 30 minutes for the ceremony to finish before you can actually talk freely to each other. 

Reason #2: You will likely capture more couple photos from your special day.

Opting in for a first look allows myself or another photographer to snap more photos of just the two of you because, believe me, we want to capture this moment! After seeing one other, it is entirely natural to spend a few moments taking pictures of the two of you twirling each other around, reading letters to one another, or simply hugging and kissing. This time allows the photographer to document more photos rather than trying to squeeze couple photos in while also snapping family portraits. Plus, it allows you to get to your reception sooner so you can celebrate your marriage with your loved ones. 

Reason #3: You get to spend more time with your fiance, your family, and your guests in attendance

By conducting a first look before the ceremony, you are giving yourself more time with your fiance and your guests. The wedding day is all about you two but more often than not, you barely get to have a moment alone once the ceremony and reception begins. If you do a first look, immediately following the ceremony you can jump into taking photos with family and friends. And the sooner those wrap up, the sooner you get to go enjoy cocktail hour and the party. Usually first looks can give up to three extra hours on your wedding day. You don’t have to rush through portraits when you see each other beforehand. 

Scheduling a first look into your timeline allows for an intimate, no-distractions moment where you can just soak up one another before walking down the aisle. Makeup and hair is spotless, ties and bowties are straight, and everyone is looking their best making this moment all the more photo-worthy. But hey, maybe a first look simply isn’t for you. You are in no way required to do one. In fact, everyone is so different. You just need to ensure you end up doing the option that resonates the most with the two of you. 

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Do A First Look:

Reason #1: You don’t want to break tradition. 

I get it! We grew up hearing that seeing the bride before the wedding was bad luck. While there is so much history behind why this was the belief, there are still tons of people who opt in for a more traditional approach. Whether you choose to do a first look or not, you still are going to have a beautiful moment with your soul mate. Plus, this allows the photographer and your entire guest list to witness your partner’s reaction the moment they see you floating down the aisle. 

Reason #2: You want to capture photos of a first touch instead.

A first touch is such an intimate and stunning moment to capture. Typically, you and your spouse will stand on opposing sides of a wall or door so you don’t see one another but you can still hold hands, share laughs, or even read each other’s vows beforehand. Couples often choose to pray together holding hands but not seeing one another. Or passing love notes in anticipation of the day ahead. These simple gestures may help alleviate any nerves before the ceremony while also keeping the first look a surprise until it’s ceremony time. 

Reason #3: You’re having a wedding after 5pm.

Sometimes your wedding plans simply don’t allow for a first look, and that’s completely OK. If you’re getting married in the summertime, doing a first look outside before an evening ceremony could lead to some harsh light in the photographs. Opting to take them after the ceremony during golden hour makes much more sense and you will fall in love with the results! This allows for plenty of time in between to get your family and couple portraits taken. 

If a cocktail hour isn’t a big deal to you and you really want to be officially married in your wedding photos, then perhaps you should opt out of a first look. If you wait until after the ceremony to shoot your photos, you’ll even get to wear your wedding bands and that’s pretty special! When it comes down to it, you and your spouse will have to take some time to consider what the best option is for you two. There is no right or wrong choice and I can guarantee the photos and day will be so special no matter what you decide.