To first look or not to first look? That is the question facing couples early in the wedding planning process! Why? Because doing a first look effects the entire timeline of your wedding day, so you will need to know if you are sneaking a peek before you say “I do” when scheduling your vendors and venue!

wedding first look photos
Ryan's reaction of seeing Bride, Sarah, for the first time. PRICELESS.

Before we get into the pros and cons, lets recap on what a first look is, just in case some of you are not sure. In modern weddings, rather than go the traditional route of having the groom (or bride!) wait until the ceremony to see the bride (or groom!) for the first time (usually when she (or he!) walks down the aisle), the couple meets up beforehand, instead. Depending on the couple, first looks can be very emotional or lots of fun. It gives you an intimate opportunity to see each other without the audience of your family and friends looking on. First looks can take place at your venue, wherever you get ready, or at a special location of your choice - Now onto the pros and cons!

First Look Pros:

  • More time to party! Eager to get to cocktail hour? First looks give you an opportunity to take formal photos with the wedding party and important family members before the ceremony, so less time is spent away during the wedding festivities later!
  • Sunshine! If you have an afternoon wedding, taking the formal photos before the ceremony means there will be more natural daylight – especially if you are getting married in the shorter months between September and April!
  • Everyone is fresh! Taking formal photos of the bride and groom with the wedding party right after they get primped and prepped guarantees everyone will still look picture perfect in the finished photos!
  • Everyone is together! When planning a first look, everyone that matters for formal photos will be there. No waking sleeping flower girls or searching the dance floor for missing members of the wedding party once the reception begins!

black and white wedding first look photos
Alex and Lauren share an intimate first look before their wedding ceremony.

First Look Cons:

  • Goodbye tradition! Wedding guests look forward to the moment the groom (or bride!) first sets eyes on their beloved walking down the aisle. With a first look, your guests miss that initial and memorable reaction!
  • Everything happens earlier! To arrange a first look, the whole day starts sooner. Hair and makeup, transportation, photography, videography, florals – everything! Take this into consideration if your wedding will be early in the morning or if you are paying vendors by the hour.
  • Everyone must be early! Because first looks depend on the wedding party arriving before the ceremony, they cannot be late, or else the whole day (ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception) risks falling behind or getting cut short entirely!
  • You have the jitters! Before you walk down that aisle, say “I do,” and make it official, it is natural to still feel nervous about your wedding. Since first look photos happen before all that, it is possible you will have those queasy butterfly feelings (and looks) in your formal photos!

black and white wedding ceremony photos
Dave and Britney chose not to do a first look and instead go with a more traditional wedding ceremony.
Dave's reaction: PRICELESS

In the end, the decision to have a first look or not is YOUR decision. Do not let traditional norms or busy timelines sway your choice one way or another if you know in your heart what works best for you as a couple. We have photographed weddings with and without first looks and they are both always memorable and always magic, so long as they are personal and from the heart!