“Should I Do a First Look?”: Pros, Cons, and Photos We Love

Client Education

As weddings continue to evolve, couples find themselves faced with many important decisions to make their special day uniquely theirs. One of these decisions is the question, “Should I do a First Look?”.

The concept of the “First Look” has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. This pre-ceremony moment, where the soon-to-be-wed couple sees each other for the first time in their wedding attire, has sparked a debate among brides, grooms, and wedding enthusiasts alike.

Should you do a First Look on your wedding day, or should you stick to tradition and wait until the aisle? Let’s unpack this.

What Is a First Look at a Wedding?: Tradition and Beyond

First Look Wedding Tradition

Traditionally, couples wait until the wedding ceremony to catch the first glimpse of each other. This moment, charged with anticipation and emotion, unfolds in front of friends and family, creating an emotional moment that is both intimate and public.

For many, the tradition of the groom seeing the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle holds immense sentimental value.

The Case for the Modern Wedding First Look

In contrast, a First Look is a private moment where the bride and groom see each other for the first time in their wedding attire before the actual ceremony takes place. It happens in a secluded location, away from the rest of the wedding party.

The groom is turned away from the bride. She approaches him, often tapping him on the shoulder or exchanging a few words before he turns around to see her.

This special moment away from the wedding guests allows the bride and groom to share their raw reactions, emotions, and expressions in a more intimate way before the whirlwind of the ceremony and celebration begins.

For many couples, the First Look creates the space for genuine, unfiltered reactions and helps them feel calmer and more connected. This candid moment can be captured by your wedding photographer, preserving the tender emotions forever.

“Should I Do a First Look at My Wedding?”: The Pros

Intimate Connection

The wedding day is a whirlwind of an event, filled with many details and moving parts. With the pressure of coordinating various elements, from vendors and schedules to decor and guest interactions, it’s not uncommon for the bride and groom to find themselves caught in the logistical intricacies.

Amidst the celebration, it’s crucial for the couple to carve out intentional moments for themselves and spend time together before the ceremony.

The First Look offers a genuine, intimate moment for the couple to share their emotions and connect before walking down the aisle. This private encounter allows for sincere reactions, unfiltered by the presence of friends and family.

Less Pressure

For many couples, the nervous energy leading up to the wedding day and the wedding ceremony can be overwhelming.

The walk down the aisle is a public event, shared with friends, family, and often a large gathering of guests. The pressure of being the main point of attention during such an intimate moment can be overwhelming for the bride and the groom. They may feel the weight of external expectations and scrutiny, which takes away from the personal emotions during the first look moments.

The First Look gives the bride and the groom the much-needed time to take a deep breath and connect before the rest of the wedding timeline unfolds, alleviating the pressure of the wedding day.

Beautiful Photos

From a visual perspective, the First Look provides a unique opportunity for wedding photographers to capture the raw, unscripted emotions of the couple.

Removing the pressure of the guests watching and the constraints of a formal ceremony allows the bride and groom to express their feelings more naturally during the first moment of seeing each other.

This results in wedding photos that are not only stunning but also relaxed, emotional, and completely immersed in the moment. You’ll look back at your wedding portraits, reliving the big reveal for years to come.

Better Wedding Timeline

Doing a private First Look can positively impact your wedding timeline and your overall experience. 

Doing the traditional First Look means that you will likely be cramming all of your photos into a stressful one-hour window. 

With a private First Look, the bride and groom will also have time to attend the cocktail hour. Moreover, you’ll get a lot more photos with a private First Look because you’ll be able to do a longer photography session in the morning and a shorter one at sunset. 

The Cons of Doing a First Look

Deviating from Tradition and Symbolism

The act of waiting to see each other at the altar has profound symbolic significance. For many, this tradition is a sacred part of the wedding ceremony. It encapsulates the essence of commitment and the journey toward a shared future together.

Not Sharing a Special Moment with Family and Friends

Opting for a private First Look moment creates a space for an intimate connection between the couple, but it may also mean that you’ll be missing out on the joy and emotional resonance that comes with a public reveal during the ceremony. However, I have found that that moment is still special regardless of a first look or not.

That said, couples sometimes allow family members to watch the First Look to enjoy the moment with them. This could be a creative solution if you want to do a private First Look but still want certain family members to be present. 

Examples of First Look Photos

Doing the First Look wedding photos captures special moments to cherish with your future spouse forever.

A First Look before the ceremony.
A First Look before the ceremony.
A First Look before the ceremony.

Choosing the Right Photographer for Your First Look Wedding Photos

Selecting the right wedding photographer is an important decision, so consider the following tips:

  1. Portfolio Review: Look for wedding photographers with a diverse portfolio showcasing their ability to capture candid, emotional moments. Take a look at Jen Oceana portfolio here!
  2. Communication Style: Ensure your photographer understands your vision and is willing to collaborate. Clear communication is key to achieving the desired results.
  3. Experience with First Looks: A photographer experienced in capturing First Looks will understand the nuances of these moments and how to navigate the dynamics involved.
  4. Technical Proficiency: Assess the technical skills of the photographer, including their use of lighting, composition, and editing techniques.

Collaborating with Your Photographer

Once you’ve chosen a photographer, collaboration becomes essential:

  1. Express Your Vision: Clearly communicate your expectations, the mood you want to convey, and any specific shots you have in mind.
  2. Timeline Planning: Collaborate on the wedding timeline to ensure there’s enough time for the First Look session without creating more stress or rushing other important moments.
  3. Scouting Locations: Work together to choose the ideal location for the First Look, considering lighting, background, and the overall atmosphere.

Keep in mind that what “collaboration” looks like varies from photographer to photographer. 

When you work with me, Jen Oceana, I take vision ideation, timeline planning, and location scouting off your plate so you can relax and enjoy your special day. 

Final Thoughts: Should I Do a First Look on My Wedding Day?

When all is said and done, no one but you knows how to best celebrate your love. There’s no right or wrong way to approach wedding planning.

Doing the First Look means stepping away from traditions and not sharing core moments with your loved ones. It may also cause some disruptions to your wedding day and reception that you’ll have to work around.

However, deciding to do the First Look can be well worth it. It allows you to sneak in a private moment before the wedding party gets in full swing to connect with your spouse to be, relieving some pressure. Your wedding photographer can also capture emotional, vivid first look photos to cherish the memory over the course of your life together. Get in touch with Jen Oceana to record the biggest moment of your life forever ❤️