A Wedding First Look: Navigating the Decision for Your Wedding Day

Wedding Tips

One of the more tender and intimate decisions a couple can make while planning their wedding is whether to have a “wedding first look”—a private moment before the ceremony where the couple can see each other all dressed up for the first time. As a wedding photographer, I often get asked about this choice, and I personally love it for the practical benefit of the day. However, like most wedding traditions, whether or not to have a first look is a personal choice! Here’s a closer look at both sides of the coin to help you decide what’s right for your special day.

wedding first look

Pros of Having a Wedding First Look

  • A Moment of Calm: Weddings can be whirlwinds of activity where moments alone are rare. A first look offers a private bubble amidst the day’s hustle. It’s a chance to spend a quiet moment together, exchange personal vows, or simply embrace and express excitement and love before the public spectacle begins.
  • Easing the Nerves: For many, nerves are a big part of a wedding day. Seeing each other beforehand can alleviate some of that intense pressure, making the walk down the aisle a less anxious, more enjoyable experience.
  • Better Photo Opportunities: Photographers often advocate for first looks because they expand the window for wedding photos. It allows for capturing those fresh, emotional first reactions in a more controlled setting without rushing during the cocktail hour. This can result in more relaxed, genuine photos.
  • Joining the Celebration Sooner: With some of the formal photos out of the way, couples can head straight into their reception post-ceremony. This means more time with guests and less time posing for pictures.

Cons of Having a Wedding First Look

  • Breaking Tradition: For couples who cherish tradition, skipping the first look is a nod to the magical, suspenseful build-up to the altar reveal. The first look at the altar is iconic—charged with emotion and surrounded by loved ones, it can be a profoundly moving highlight of the day.
  • Timing and Logistics: Organizing a first look can add complexity to your schedule. Couples need to get ready earlier and coordinate with their photography and videography teams to capture the moment, which might mean a tighter morning timeline.
  • The Risk of Diminished Aisle Impact: There’s a belief that a first look might deflate the emotional impact of seeing each other as you walk down the aisle. In my experience, I have found this to be far from true! That walk down the aisle moment is still very much the one when the couple becomes one, I have never had a couple say this moment was “ruined” or “not the same” because of doing a first look.
Wedding first look

Making Your Choice

Deciding whether to have a wedding first look depends largely on your personalities, priorities, and how you envision your wedding day unfolding. Discuss with your partner about what feels most right for the two of you. Consider your comfort with tradition versus your practical needs for the timeline of your day. Also, think about your emotional wellbeing. If sharing a quiet moment together before the ceremony will help soothe your nerves, then a first look could be a perfect addition to your day.

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer here—just what feels most authentic to your relationship and how you both want to remember your wedding day. Whether it’s a tear-filled glance before the ceremony or a heart-stopping reveal at the altar, your choice will be the perfect start to your marriage journey.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer, check out my work or let’s chat about your wedding day! I’d love to hear from you!

with love,
Rachel Maloney