13 Pros and Cons of Doing a First Look on Your Wedding Day

July 21, 2023

The pros and cons of doing a first look with a bride reaching out and touching a grooms shoulder while he faces the opposite way.

Have you been wondering about the pros and cons of doing a first look? I’ve got you covered! 

A wedding first look can be a special moment for couples on their big day.

As a wedding photographer, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing many first looks between couples in love and capturing the emotion of it with photos. The photos always tell the story of that unique moment when they see each other for the first time on their wedding day.

Whether or not to do a first look is a question that I often get asked by couples planning their weddings. In this blog post, I’ll go into detail about the pros and cons of doing a first look so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for your own wedding day!

Pros of Doing a First Look

A first look can ease your nerves

A bride tapping her groom on the shoulder as he faces the opposite way.

By having a first look prior to the wedding ceremony, it will give you an opportunity to see your partner before the big day begins. It can be very calming and reassuring to have that moment of seeing your significant other and sharing a few minutes of peace with them before the ceremony. 

The anticipation leading up to the ceremony can be nerve wracking, so having a private moment with your partner beforehand can help calm any jitters or anxiousness that might have been building up. This intimate moment shared between you and your to-be-wed can be both emotional and memorable!

You both will have a quiet moment together before the ceremony

Two brides smiling at each other during their first look.

While there are different pros and cons of doing a first look, one of the biggest pros of doing a first look is that you can both have a quiet moment together before the ceremony. This is especially a great point as you can often get lost in the hustle and bustle of a wedding day! 

With all the excitement surrounding the big day, it can be difficult to find even a few moments together alone. A first look gives you that special moment to pause, take a breath, take each other in, and enjoy a quiet moment together. It’s a chance to savor the anticipation and reflect on what it means for both of you to finally say “I do.”

You are able to take a majority of your formal portraits before the ceremony

A bride walking up behind her groom before their first look.

With a first look, you can take most of your formal portraits before the ceremony, meaning that after the ceremony is concluded you and your guests will be able to enjoy cocktail hour without having to spend it taking photos.

Additionally, you’ll save yourself from the stress that comes with trying to take pictures after a long day filled with emotion. With free time at cocktail hour, you and your guests will be able to truly engage with each other’s company comfortably and with no rush – this is a celebration after all!

You will have more daylight for photos

A bride and groom holding hands and smiling at each other.

The beauty of taking your formal portraits before the ceremony is that you will have plenty of natural, beautiful daylight for your photos! Especially for fall and winter weddings, when the sun sets early, having a first look guarantees that you can take advantage of the daylight to take stunning photographs.

You won’t have to worry about rushing to get photos taken before it gets dark – with enough time in the day you can enjoy each moment of your photoshoot without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.

You can get your feelings out pre-ceremony

A groom smiling and looking at his bride.

A first look can be an incredibly emotional moment for any couple, especially on their special day. Without having to say your vows (which you would do if you first saw each other at the altar) or make a big public display in front of everyone at the ceremony, you and your partner can have that intimate moment together and actually comfort each other in the most meaningful way.

Many couples find that doing a first look before the ceremony lets them get all of those emotions out ahead of time, so they can enter into the ceremony feeling calmer and more connected with one another. 

You can get unique with your photos

A groom turning around and looking at his bride during their first look.

Having first look photos gives you some of the most unique and special photos for your wedding album. Thanks to all the unique ideas out there, you and your partner can get as creative as you want with your first look. The possibilities are truly endless!

Cons of Doing a First Look

You break tradition

A bride and groom standing alone in a small wooded area during their first look.

Breaking the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the altar can be nerve-wracking for some couples. This traditional practice is a big part of the wedding ceremony and it’s an emotional moment for the couple as well as their guests.

Stepping away from that tradition and having a first look will come with a lot of questions from family and friends, which in turn can add more stress to an already busy day. 

You’ll have to be up earlier in the day

A groom standing up at the alter with his groomsmen.

Waking up earlier than planned can be a major disruption to your wedding timeline. You’ll have to factor in time for you and your partner to get ready separately, and then all the time it will take for your photographer to capture the moment.

Getting up that much earlier can be exhausting, especially if you and your to-be-wed aren’t morning people. However, if you’re willing to make the effort, it could certainly be worth it – that first look moment is a special one that you both will never forget!

You may have to freshen up before the ceremony

A groom crying as he watches his bride walk down the aisle.

If you and your partner get so teary-eyed that you both need time to freshen up before the ceremony, it can be difficult to factor into the timeline. You don’t want to feel rushed or stressed out during such a special moment in your life – this is your wedding day, after all! 

Talk with your makeup artist beforehand and make sure they are available for touch-ups if needed. Your hairstylist can also come and make any small adjustments after the portraits. Finally, make sure you have a bathroom nearby the first look session where you can take care of any last minute details.

You won’t “technically” be married in your portraits

A bride and groom holding hands on the alter during their wedding ceremony.

Though a first look will give you the chance to capture some stunning photos and take advantage of that beautiful light, one downside is that you won’t technically be married in your portraits.

For couples who want to ensure they have photos of them as a newly married couple, this might be a bit of a con! However, if you embrace the moment and take each other in for what it is – two people about to embark on an incredible journey together – then it will still be special and unique, regardless of your marital status.

Compromises of Doing a First Look

First touch

A compromise of doing a first look could be to do a first touch instead. You can stand back to back or around a corner and hold hands or talk to each other to calm nerves but still save that first look for the aisle. This way, you can still have special and intimate moments together without having to sacrifice the surprise of your ceremony entrance. 

A first touch is also an excellent way for you both to share a few sweet words with each other prior to the big event or exchange a small gift as a token of your love and commitment.

Read vows privately

Another compromise of doing a first look could be to read your vows privately. You can use this as an opportunity to read each other your heartfelt, intimate promises for the future without everyone else watching. 

You can also share sentimental gifts or exchange small tokens of love during this moment if you’d like to keep it private and between the two of you. This is a great way to reflect on your commitment to each other right before your wedding.

Do a first look with someone else

Doing a first look with someone else is an excellent compromise. You can do a first look with your wedding party, parent, family, or anyone else who is special to you and enjoy the moment together. 

This is a wonderful way for you to share a few words of love and affection to each other before the ceremony and also reflect on the importance of their presence in your life!

Final Thoughts: Should you do a first look – Pros and cons of doing a first look.

Ultimately, the decision to do a first look is up to you and should reflect what makes you and your loved one truly happy. Whether it’s a private moment shared with just each other or a unique experience shared with family and friends, you should carefully consider all options before making your final decision. If you’re engaged and looking for a wedding photographer that will capture every moment of your special day, then look no further. Get in touch with me today and let’s discuss how I can make your wedding day truly memorable!

Want to keep reading? Check out these next:

get in touch

some magic?

ready to create

Sign up to receive fun updates and resources directly from me to you.

in touch.

let's stay