Things to think about when deciding if you should do a first look

There is an old tradition that states the groom should not see his bride before the wedding. This tradition’s origins tie back to when weddings were often arranged and more of a business deal between families. The groom wasn’t supposed to see the bride before the wedding day in order to prevent him from backing out of the deal if he didn’t like the looks of her. (Also why the traditional veil that covered the bride’s face was initially created!)

While it’s likely not for the same reasons, you may want to consider keeping the tradition of not seeing your partner before the ceremony. However, the “first look” prior to the ceremony is becoming more popular. This can greatly impact your overall wedding day timeline so it’s something you will want to decide on as a couple early on in the process. So how do you decide what’s right for you? Here are some pros for each scenario from the perspective of a wedding photographer to give you a few things to consider.

A few of the pros of doing a first look:

One of the main reasons I love first looks is that you can have a little more intimate, authentic moment together before being on display in front of your friends and family for the official ceremony. I am a huge believer that you need to find ways to have a few special, quiet moments with your partner on your big day and a first look is a great time to calm any pre-wedding nerves together. The first look photos can be some of the most emotional, cherished photos of the day.

First looks also free up a lot of time for the rest of your wedding day. This makes it easier for you to spend more time at the reception or cocktail hour and enjoy your guests more. Most of the time a first look means that some bridal portraits, bridal party photos and family photos can be done BEFORE the wedding ceremony. Then you get more time to mingle with guests during the cocktail and your bridal party and family gets to go enjoy the celebration right after the ceremony in most cases!

A few pros of waiting until the ceremony:

While these are definitely appealing reasons to do a first look, you may just know in your heart that you want to go the more traditional route and wait to see each other until the ceremony, this is great! You need to wait then if it is right for you as a couple. There are also a lot of wonderful things about waiting until the ceremony to see each other. It can be a very exciting and emotional moment and it is so special to share that emotion with your guests. Having your closest friends and family see how you react to seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day is a memorable, beautiful moment to share with everyone.

A few other logistical reasons it may be beneficial to way until the ceremony to see each other include getting more beauty sleep and having more time to get ready! This may not be what you initially think of, but by waiting until the ceremony to see each other you typically have less time dedicated to taking photos before the ceremony which means more time for hair, makeup and getting ready in general earlier in the day. You’ll also actually be married in all of the wedding photos! I’ve also had many couples that choose to wait until the ceremony do a first look with the father of the bride or other important people.

Whatever you decide, your wedding photographer has been involved in the planning and execution of both choices and should be willing to talk through timelines and all of the details with you. This is actually one of my most favorite parts of working with couples before their big day!