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What is a First Look? [The Pros and Cons]

For Brides

January 29, 2019


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What is a First Look?

Chances are you’ve heard about the famous “First Looks” that are very popular these days. Sure, it means you see each other before the ceremony. But that’s not all there is to them. Exactly what is a First Look and what are the Pros and Cons?

A Wedding First Look is when the bride and groom decide to see each other before the ceremony. In their wedding attires. The main purpose of a first look is to allow the couple to experience this time privately and more intimately.

A lot of couples have mixed feelings about first looks, sometimes even without completely understanding the advantages and disadvantages.

There are many pros and cons that come with doing a first look, let’s address the main ones.

Pros of a First Look

An Intimate Moment between the Bride and Groom

As mentioned before, the main purpose of doing a first look is to make this a private, intimate and more heartfelt time for the couple. A first look, allows the couple to enjoy this time without the pressure of being in front of hundreds of guests. It allows for a more relaxed time in which the bride and groom can be themselves and really immerse each other in this special moment without the time constraints.

This is one of the biggest advantages of doing a first look! You get to soak it all in uninterrupted! <3

The Bride and Groom Spend more Time Together on their Wedding Day

If you think about a traditional wedding you’ve been a part of (Bridesmaid, MOH) with no first look, you will likely realize that you spent more time with the bride than she did with her groom. Say what!!??

In fact, the bride and groom probably spent less than half of the day together.

This is because, with a traditional wedding, the couple spends the first half of the day getting ready in different rooms. They finally get to see each other during the ceremony grand entrance but right after the ceremony, a sea of family and friends come over to congratulate the couple, then the bridal party and family portraits take place and after that the cocktail hour and reception leaving the couple with little time to themselves.

This seems odd considering that the whole purpose of a wedding is to unite the couple and celebrate their love.

A great solution to this is having a first look!

The first look allows you and your honey to spend most of your big day together. And have time to take in the moment alone.

A More Effective Photography Timeline

There is no doubt that First Looks gives us photographers more flexibility when it comes to Wedding Photography timelines. Here are some of the timeline benefits of a First Look:

We get to capture the couple’s most important moment up close and uninterrupted.

After the First Look, I like to capture the Bride & Groom Portraits, a mix of candid and traditional, posed photos of the couple, these are normally the photos that Grandma will want to hang up. This is especially beneficial for weddings with a sunset ceremony because by the time the ceremony is over, it will likely be too dark. Doing the Bride and Groom photos before the guests arrive, makes sure that the most important photos of the day are taken care of beforehand. It also eliminates the stress of having to capture these if the timeline gets shortened.

Bridal Party and Family Formals Done Early!

Right after the Bride and Groom photos, I like to take your photos with their bridal party.

I have found that the bridal party loves this!

Bridesmaids love doing the photos before the ceremony because their hair and make-up is fresh and they look their best! And groomsmen love it because they normally prefer to be able to enjoy cocktail hour after the ceremony rather than going away to pose for photos.

What is a First Look The Pros and Cons

If possible, I also like to do family formals after the Bridal party photos. Having the family formals after the ceremony and gathering all the family members together; especially if one of you has big families can be hectic. So doing this beforehand is another important thing we can cross off the list which allows your family to enjoy the cocktail hour.

This one is totally optional but even when having a first look, I like to offer my clients to get more Bride and Groom photos done after the ceremony. I like to call it “The Husband and Wife Portraits Time”. This is especially important if the ceremony is right before sunset as we will be able to capture your husband and wife portraits in beautiful golden light!

The beauty of it is that, because we already captured the traditional photos after the first look, we can get really creative with these photos. Plus we won’t take up too much time so you two can enjoy your cocktail hour.


Cons of a First Look

You break the Tradition of not Seeing the Bride before the Ceremony

The famous tradition of a couple not seeing each other before the ceremony started with arranged marriages. The Bride & Groom were not allowed to see each other beforehand to prevent them from trying to break off the wedding if they didn’t like each other. Interesting huh!

This tradition stuck and today, Bride & Grooms still opt to wait until the ceremony to see each other to build the excitement and honor this magical moment.

Breaking this tradition is one of the biggest disadvantages of doing a first look.

Having to Start Getting Ready Earlier

Another Con of having a First Look is that the Bridal Party has to get up earlier to start getting ready for it. Many Brides & Grooms up to have their bachelor and bachelorette parties the night before the wedding or are putting together last wedding details the night before and having to get up earlier because of the First Look can be a big turn off.

As you can see, there are both Pros and Cons to having a First Look. But if you ask me, I think the Pros trump the Cons
 unless you really want to sleep in on your wedding day, which in that case, go for it girlfriend! 😉

But if you’re convinced that a First Look is ideal for you and your honey, below are some tips on how to set it up.

How to Set up the First Look

Communication and setting up expectations with your photographer/videographer is the most important success tip for setting up First Looks. Your photographer should be able to offer advice and guide you through the First Look, this is why it’s important to choose the right wedding photographer. You can start by having  a chat with them and sharing your First Look expectations.

For example: You might prefer to have your Family and Bridal Party present during your First Look; or only the two of you (plus Photographer, Videographer) present. Sharing your expectations with your Photographer and Videographer is incredibly important!

The location should be a private location, preferably close to the ceremony location and outdoors during day time.

Make the most out of your First Look. I encourage you to build up the momentum and bring your personalities into your First Look. You can do this by starting with a First Touch, closing your eyes and/or sharing a love letter right before.

Whether you decide to go for a First Look or keep things traditional, it’s up to you! But this post should help you with your decision.

I love working with both couples that have a First Look and those who don’t. Just do what works best for you! <3


  1. […] loved seeing how the couple shared love letters with each other before their wedding first look and how they celebrated their love to the sound of Jason Mraz’s Best Friend and mid-song invited […]

  2. […] their first look, Kaitlyn and Zach said their vows to each other which made an already special moment even more […]

  3. […] timeless wedding traditions such as having a maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids and groomsmen, a first look, first dances, bouquet toss, cake cutting, etc, on a smaller […]

  4. […] and Joe had such a sweet wedding first look. Joe was so excited to see Tracey in her wedding dress that I don’t think he could have […]

  5. […] and that’s the last thing I want for you! That’s one of the reasons why I encourage First Looks. They allow you to spend most of the day together, take care of the most important photos early in […]

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