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Should We Do A First Look?

Throughout the wedding planning process, there are a ton of decisions that need to be made. Should we get married in the mountains or the city? Do we hire a DJ or a band? What should we serve for dinner? Which song will we play for our first dance? But one question you may not have considered yet is “should we do a first look?”

What are the pros and cons of a first look?

Let’s start with the pros.

Everybody likes cocktail hour. I like cocktail hour. Heck, I like it so much, I wish it was 90 minutes. If you do a first look, you’ll be able to get some (if not all) of your couple’s portraits done ahead of time so you can enjoy a drink with your family and friends after the ceremony.

The side benefit of this is that your wedding day timeline will run a lot more smoothly. There will be time to breathe after the ceremony instead of being herded quickly from one place to another in order to make it to the reception on time. This way, you’ll be able to relax and be in the moment.

Finally, weddings can be stressful and you might be feeling a bit anxious before your ceremony. Doing a first look can help to ease some of that tension. There’s just something about going to a private location and seeing your husband or wife-to-be for the first time that makes the nerves melt away. Now you can head over to the ceremony site relaxed and ready to do this thing!

Now for the cons.

A first look isn’t traditional. That’s literally the only con I can think of. And it’s only a potential con if you want to have a traditional wedding.

should we do a first look groom seeing his bride for the first time on the wedding day
should we do a first look groom hugging his bride before ceremony
should we do a first look bride shedding a tear during first look

Yeah, but does a first look ruin the walk down the aisle?

We’ve asked a ton of our past wedding couples if they thought that doing a first look lessened the emotional impact of the ceremony. Everyone replied enthusiastically that, no, it did not.

A common theme in their answers was that the first look and the walk-down-the-aisle moment are two completely different feelings.

Here are two photos of grooms watching their brides walk down the aisle. The groom in the top photo had already seen his bride during the first look. The groom in the bottom photo is seeing his bride for the first time. Both grooms look genuinely happy.

should we do a first look groom watching bride walk down the aisle
should we do a first look groom watching bride walk down the aisle

Who should be at the first look?

Most times, just the two of you. But it’s your choice. Do you want your parents or wedding party to watch? Totally fine. This is your wedding and there are no right or wrong answers.

What can we do instead?

If you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, but would still like to share a private moment, you can always do a first touch instead. This is where you come together and say hello and hold hands and possibly say private vows, but you don’t actually see one another. It has the same calming effect as the first look, but at the same time allows you to keep things more traditional for the ceremony

should we do a first look bride kissing groom's hand during first touch

Or, you can always go fully in the opposite direction and get ready together. This tends to be popular with couples who have been together for a long time and already live together before the wedding.

bride and groom getting ready together for elopement
groom and groom getting ready together for wedding

One final note on this before we go. First looks aren’t just for you and your soon-to-be. You can also do first look with your parents, siblings, or wedding party before the ceremony as well.

father of the bride seeing his daughter for the first time
bridesmaids seeing the bride in her dress for the first time

So, should we do a first look or not?!

If you’re asking us, the wedding photographers, our answer is “absolutely.” But the choice is ultimately yours, as it is with the wedding venue and the music and the food and everything else involved with your wedding day. Don’t worry about what you’re “supposed” to do. It’s your personal choices that will make your wedding unique, so go with your gut. There are no wrong answers.

Thanks for taking the time to read our post on “Should we do a first look!” Feel free to reach out any time if you have questions, comments, or would just like to pick our brains about anything wedding related. Cheers!

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