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Having a First Look Before Your Wedding Ceremony: Pros and Cons

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Contemplating the first look before your wedding ceremony? Consider The Pros and Cons of a First Look on your wedding day.


As you’re making the final preparations for your wedding day (or perhaps well in advance!), the idea of a first look may cross your mind. You may have friends or family who saw each other before their ceremony or your photographer might mention it as an idea. So, is this something you should do? Is a first look something you want to do? First, let’s dive a little deeper.

As we mentioned, a first look means you and your partner* will see each other prior to your wedding ceremony. Most often, this means having a moment together at your venue or meeting at an outdoor location. During this time, you and your love will see each other in your wedding day attire for the first time, and your photographer will snap away. Essentially, a first look is a chance for you to spend a few minutes together and get awesome photos!

There’s much more to consider besides whether or not you would like to enjoy a photo session together. Let’s weigh some of the pros and cons below.  

Pros of a First Look:

Check out these reasons why you may want to opt for a first look on your wedding day.

1. Logistics & Timing:

One of the biggest reasons why couples (and wedding professionals) are in favor of first looks is because they create great opportunities for better logistics. Seeing each other prior to your ceremony means you can travel together and with your full wedding party to your ceremony. It also means your photographer can capture wedding party, family, and couple’s portraits earlier in the day. Anything that can be completed in advance on your wedding day means you will have more time to enjoy your reception later on!

2. Guaranteed Couple’s Portrait Session:

Aside from being a chance for you and your partner to see each other, a first look also provides a guaranteed couple’s portrait session. Most often, your first look will last for 15 minutes or so, but your photographer can continue to capture both of you together for another 15-30 minutes. Essentially, your first look becomes your couple’s portrait session, which sometimes doesn’t occur until later in the day when lighting (and timing!) can be starting to become a problem. Knowing you have wonderful photos together is worth it!

3. Attend Your Cocktail Hour:

When you’re planning your wedding, your venue will likely talk through cocktails, appetizers, and more for your cocktail hour. These are all things your guests will get to enjoy! However, if you choose to do a first look, it means you will get to enjoy it all too. When a couple doesn’t do a first look, they are most often capturing photos with their photographer during cocktail hour. Instead, if you do a first look, you will have already completed that session!

4. Calm Your Nerves:

Your wedding day is exciting, but it also represents a big life change. It’s only natural to feel nervous! The one person who is likely as nervous as you are is your partner. So, what better thing to do to calm down than to see each other for a first look? Many couples say spending a few minutes together makes a huge difference in their overall feelings and stress level.

first look wedding photos

Cons of doing a First Look:

While there are many benefits to having a first look, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Check them out below:

1. Earlier Start Time:

If you choose to do a first look, it means you and your partner will see each other prior to your ceremony. That means you will need to be ready for your wedding earlier, which means hair and makeup will start even sooner. Sometimes a delayed start time sounds and feels better than a combined first look and photo session. If you feel that way, that’s okay!

2. You’ve Seen Each Other:

The obvious goal of a first look is for you and your love to see each other. But, that also means you will not be seeing each other for the first time during your ceremony. If you have your heart set on seeing your partner for the first time as you walk down the aisle, a first look may not be for you. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons and know the emotional moment you may have imagined might occur at a different time than you originally thought. Allow us to say though, that having both moments is doubly special– and you can get some of those nerves out before the wedding march if you do opt for a first look.

3. Attention:  

Like many moments throughout your wedding day, your first look is one that will not be private. It’s something your photographer will want to capture. If you choose to go the first look route, it’s definitely a moment you will want to be saved forever! But, that means a first look is another time when you will be “on stage”. If you’re hoping for a completely private moment, either request that no one be present as you see each other or consider sticking to the moments when you already know you will have an audience.

*Before we end, we do want to mention that your partner is not the only person with whom you can share a first look. Many brides (and grooms!) share a first look with their parents. These moments are often equally as special as the ones you might share with your love, and they are just as photographable. A first look with a parent might be a great happy medium. You will have special photos and a great moment between those you love, and you will also save the moment you and your partner see each other for the first time until your ceremony.

Are you planning to do a first look? Why or why not? Join us in the community to chat about first looks and all other things wedding planning!

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Having a First Look Before Your Wedding Ceremony: Pros and Cons
Having a First Look Before Your Wedding Ceremony: Pros and Cons
Having a First Look Before Your Wedding Ceremony: Pros and Cons


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