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First Look or Not First Look . . . That is the Question

First Look or Not First Look . . . That is the Question
July 13, 2019

This is a wedding question that never used to exist. Tradition has always taught us that it is bad luck for a groom to see his bride before she walks down the aisle. Some couples are more traditional and it’s very important to them to wait and see each other for the first time at the ceremony. It’s a very exciting moment and understandably, so special. 

If you don’t want to see your partner until the ceremony, you can consider an “almost first look” where you and your partner can talk to each other between a door or some other divider, so you can’t see each other but your photographer can capture photos of the two of you. I’ve seen almost first looks where couples exchanged love letters or gifts, held hands, or simply talked with each other about how happy they were to be getting married in a couple hours! All of it is sweet.

If you are not familiar with this somewhat new wedding trend, a first look is when the wedding couple sees each other in their dress/suit/tux for the first time on their wedding day, but before the ceremony. Usually the groom stands in one spot while the bride comes up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. He turns around and … tada! There’s a beautiful bride standing there! You can also do something a little different, with the bride standing still while the groom comes up behind her. Usually the first look is captured by the wedding photographer and/or videographer and it’s a special intimate moment between the couple.

Here are the Pros to having a First Look

Not miss out on cocktail hour –Doing a First Look 30 minutes to an hour before the ceremony will free up some time for bride and groom portraits and once you’re done, you can enjoy your cocktail hour without having to worry about missing out on mingling with your lovely guests, and as a result, your photographer can get more candid photos as wel

Control – First looks can be done anywhere. You have the option to choose the backdrop/scenery and lighting. You can also choose the setting around you, whether you want to make it very intimate, just the two of you, or have the bridal party surround you, which can be very exciting and cheerful, as opposed to seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, where you have no control over lighting and everything else around you.

More time – From a time perspective, First Look photos provide more timeline benefits. More light for photos is a plus for many outdoor venues. Additionally, taking some photos together before the ceremony can smooth out the transition from ceremony to reception and allow the bride and groom to have more time to spend with their guests.

These factors are a bonus – but should never be the basis for your decision as to whether to do first look photos or not.

Here are the Cons to having a First Look

The cons, however, are more emotional and much more personal: if you see your future spouse before the wedding, you won’t have that magical moment of seeing each other for the first time at the start of the ceremony.

First look wedding photos are not candid

A candid moment is something magical that happens when you think no one is watching. Like when the bride is walking down the aisle, all eyes are on her, even the photographer. The groom is left to react however he’d like. The truth comes out. Be it tears of joy. Or shock at your gown selection. It’s his moment. His and yours. And it’s truly candid.


You can stay in bed a little longer.

Just think about it: you were up late at the rehearsal dinner the night before, you probably didn’t have the best sleep to begin with, and you have salon appointments scheduled from 9 til noon (or later!). Knowing you’re meeting your groom a few hours before the ceremony just cuts into your beauty rest, not to mention the time you’ll have to get ready with your best gals!

 The wedding is not just about YOU

Your ceremony, your grand entrance is not just about you.  It’s a culmination of months of effort on the part of friends and family. Your first look is about you seeing him seeing you. And it’s about everyone else seeing you seeing him seeing you. They are witnessing magic. It’s like a gift you give your guests: their smiles and tears as they look back and forth between you and him as you near the end of the aisle will be so worth it. Here’s a great quote from bride LadyMonk on WeddingWire: 

 “I’m not doing a first look either. Can’t sacrifice that excited face and happy expression for just me — I want everyone to see how happy he looks!”


As a couple, you should weigh the pros and cons together and decide what is best for you. Always go with what your heart tells you, regardless of pressure from family, or your vendors.

Christina Mathews - 336-705-3239

The Knot Best of Weddings - 2019 Pick The Knot Best of Weddings - 2021 Pick
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