April 6, 2017

Should You Have a First Look? | Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding

A lot of couples ask whether or not they should have a first look for their wedding. My answer is simple: Opting for a first look certainly makes the wedding day less stressful for everyone involved and allows couples to enjoy much more of their cocktail hour.

That said, it’s not my place to push the first look on any of my couples. In today’s post, I’ll be providing you with the pros and cons of seeing each other before the wedding.

Should You Have a First Look for Your Wedding

Pros of having a first look

  • Any nerves you have about the wedding could easily be calmed if you see your significant other before the ceremony.
  • You see each other in private, so the moment is just yours and isn’t shared with all of your guests. It allows you to speak with each other instead of having to get through the whole ceremony to converse. 
  • You will get your family and bridal party portraits out of the way, which always makes everyone so happy that they have all of cocktail hour to wine and dine. Also, you’ll have more time to enjoy your cocktail hour. If you want to enjoy more than a minute or two of this hour, a first look is a must! Without it, you should not expect to have little to any time leftover for chatting with your guests as your photographer will need most or all of the hour to photography family portraits, bridal party portraits, and bride and groom portraits.
  • You’ll also have a lot of time for bride and groom portraits before the ceremony and during cocktail hour, leaving you with a gorgeous set of images that feature a variety of locations and moments. Without a first look, you’ll likely only have 10-30 minutes of photos, depending on how large your bridal party and family is.

Bride walking to groom for the first look

Cons of having a first look

  • If you’re more traditional, opting for a first look might make you uncomfortable with foregoing your wedding values.
  • There’s always a small chance that a first look will lessen the emotions when the groom sees the bride walk down the aisle.
Beautiful candid and sweet first look with the bride and groom for a Maryland wedding, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Alternatives to a First Look

There are alternatives if you like the idea of a first look, but not the idea of seeing your significant other before the wedding. You can also do these in addition to bride-groom first looks.

One is to do a first look with your bridesmaids. More than likely, you’ll be getting ready with them, so they’ll have already seen your makeup and hair. What you can do is simply put on your dress in another room and come out when you’re ready for the first look.

Another alternative is to do a father-daughter first look. These are my favorite! They melt my heart every time.

first look with the brides father, brides father crying after he sees her for the first time, father daughter first look, san diego wedding candid photos

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding. Think of the pros and cons of the first look and decide which resonate with you. It is my professional opinion that first looks provide a more enjoyable wedding day for you and your family and bridal party.

If mingling with guests and/or having a lot of bride and groom photos is really important to you, then I absolutely recommend choosing to see each other before the ceremony!


Great tips! I love that you provided both pros and cons! Super helpful as we’re deciding.

So glad this was helpful to you and I can’t wait until May!!