Should I Have A First Look At My Wedding? -
Couple has a first look at their wedding

Should I Have A First Look At My Wedding?

Updated November 16, 2021 by Adventure Amore

Couple has first look at their wedding

One of the most important questions you may ask while planning your dream wedding is whether or not you should have a first look at your wedding. It’s a really good question to ask, because there are lots of pros and cons to think about. Of all the traditions you may consider incorporating, this is oftentimes the most important and debated one. So let’s dive in!

One of the most important reasons for having a first look is that it can dramatically reduce stress levels. Often, couples are all fired up and building big pools of anxiety on their wedding day. Almost every single time, the nerves and anxiety disappear as soon as they see their partner. If you do a first look, all that anxiety is removed early in the day, so that you can focus on all the important moments, savoring them and committing them to memory. If you are super anxious leading up to the moment you walk down the aisle, or see your partner walking down the aisle, you may even forget this classic moment. Everything before you see each other can blend together, and every question or decision can feel gargantuan. When a couple finally sees each other, all that stress is relieved, and they are free to just be themselves and enjoy the moment.

CON: First Looks Are Not Traditional

Western tradition normally incorporates partners seeing each other for the first time when one walks down the aisle. We’ve seen it in movies and tv shows, read it in books, and experienced it as guests with our own eyes. The first time you see your partner will be a magical moment, and putting it in the context of a long tradition adds to the magic.

Groom sees his bride walking down the aisle

PRO: The Tradition is Anachronistic

The history of seeing a bride for the first time at the altar has less than idealistic roots. Arranged marriages used to be the norm and it was feared that if the groom saw his future bride and found her unattractive, he would call off the wedding. To avoid this shameful situation, it became customary that brides and grooms would not see each other until they were on the altar and it was too late to turn back. That’s also why we have veils – to hide the bride’s face from the groom until it was absolutely too late to turn back. If you aren’t so tied down to following tradition for tradition’s sake, this might be one to throw away.

PRO: You Get a Private Moment to Take it All in Together

A first look normally is just you two, and your photographer(s). It’s an intimate moment where you get to embrace, tell each other how wonderful you both look, how in love you are with your partner and all without lots of people watching. With most wedding ceremonies, once the wedding couple meets they aren’t really saying anything to each other until they get to say their vows or ‘I Do’s’. There’s less flexibility and opportunity to take it all in and react together naturally. With a first look you can say whatever you want, embrace, dance, skip, joke, meditate – basically whatever you want with no pressure.

CON: You Have to Start Earlier

In order to be ready for the first look, and any additional pre-wedding photos, you need to ensure that everyone is ready much earlier. This might mean pushing the timeline up and asking everyone to come by early. An additional con to this is that during pre-wedding photos, folks may just be standing around waiting. They can’t go off to cocktail hour, since there isn’t one.

Groom cries when he sees his bride at their weddingBride walks down aisle at her wedding

PRO: You’ll Have More Time for Photos

When you don’t do a first look, you have to squeeze in at least 75% of your photos after the ceremony. That includes rounding up all your family members and getting them to wait patiently until it’s their turn. It also means that you normally don’t have time to relax and take it all in after you say ‘I Do.’ You gotta get moving. Stress levels can rise at this point as wedding couples know they are on a timeline and gotta fit all this in. Normally, what suffers the most when weddings are crunched for time are pictures of the couple. They shorten that moment so they can get to all the other traditions. If you do a first look, you can get most if not all of your pictures done before the ceremony. That saves time after the ceremony to get any last photos you want and missed, while having more time to do everything else.

PRO: You Get to Revel in the Moment After the Wedding

If you do a first look and get your pictures done before the ceremony, you can jump right into the fun after you say ‘I Do!’ No waiting around, no fighting to get family members together, no stress. All partayyy!

Bride walks up to groom for their first look at their weddingCouple has first look at their weddingCouple has first look at their weddingCouple has first look at their wedding

CON: You May Never Forget the Feeling of Seeing Your Partner at the Ceremony

Hey, the tradition has stuck around for a while beyond its origins because it can be pretty cool.

PRO: More Time and Space for Memories That Matter

I try to stress this point as much as possible for every decision related to weddings. The day is going to fly by. It’s going to go so fast, and the more you jam in there the less you’ll be able to savor each and every moment. Having a first look separates this important moment from the actual ceremony. You’ll be able to store the memory of this first look entirely on its own. If you have it during the ceremony you might remember the first look but forget some of the rest of it. Your mind will most likely be overstimulated.

Bride approaches groom for their first look at their weddingBride approaches groom for their first look at their weddingCouple kisses at their first look at their wedding

My Personal Opinion:

I prefer first looks for a few main reasons:

I see it all the time – having a first look significantly reduces stress levels. Watching all the anxiety and fears slip away once two lovers see each other is a beautiful thing to watch.

I’m a fan of knowing why we have our traditions, and finding the ones that make sense for each couple. A first look is oftentimes a beautiful and intimate moment with deep emotions coursing through it. It’s not anachronistic but it is one you’ll remember.

As a wedding photographer, I find that first looks really free up a lot of time for pictures. Lots of wedding couples wish they could have had more photos of themselves, but were rushed after the ceremony and had to cut their time short. So I prefer to have first looks so we can maximize picture taking time!

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have a first look is entirely up to you. The biggest reason not to do it, and it’s a big reason, is that the tradition is deeply rooted in our culture and has a majesty to it. There’s no denying that. The pros, I think, provide for an easier more enjoyable wedding experience overall. In a way, it’s as if you want one big high with intense pressure built up on either side, or a very lovely high with less stress on either side. The choice is yours, and I’m here to support you whichever you choose.

It’s your day, and no matter what it’s going to be fantastic.

Couple has first look at their wedding

Couple has first look at their wedding

Meet Your Elopement Photographer

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Hi there! I’m Adam and I live for helping couples just like you make their elopement dreams come true. If you are thinking of eloping, or just want to chat about the pros and cons of having a first look, I’d love to hear from you! I can help you find the best elopement package and share all the best tips to for your special day.

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