As a wedding photographer, I’m all about first looks – they’re some of the sweetest moments, and often some of my favorite photos! But, the most important thing on your wedding day is that you do things in a way that’s right for you, so in this guide we’ll talk about the pros and cons of a first look so you can decide if you want to do one on your day. I’ll also give you some alternative first look ideas!
Before I tell you about the pros and cons of a first look, you’ll need to know what it actually is! A first look is a relatively new tradition (well, anti-tradition). Instead of the couple seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, they schedule a moment during their wedding day where they see each other beforehand.
You’ll coordinate this with your photographer, and they’ll set one of you up in whatever spot you decide works for your first look. This partner (Partner #1) will face away, with their back towards wherever Parner #2 is coming from. Your photographer will then go get the other one of you. Partner #2 will walk up behind #1, tap them on the shoulder, and Partner #1 will turn around – you’ll see each other for the first time, burst into tears, and have a super emotional moment together!
Maybe that last part is a bit of an exaggeration (though it does happen sometimes), but the moment you see each other for the first time is always really meaningful, and creates some really special memories.
Now, let’s get into the pros and cons of a first look on your wedding day! First up, the pros.
One of the biggest pros of a first look is that it can be really good for calming the nervous butterflies on your wedding day! While your wedding is incredibly exciting, it’s natural to feel a little nervous after all that stress and anticipation. So many couples say that after they saw each other for the first time, all the anxiety completely melted away. Seeing your partner reminds you of what’s important, and gives you a moment to really soak it in and appreciate what’s about to happen.
A lot of the time, couples are pulled in a million different directions on their wedding day. You have so many people to talk to and things to do, that it can feel like you barely got to spend any time together! A first look gives you some time to just be together – just the two of you. You can talk, relax, and spend some time just being present.
Another pro of doing a first look on your wedding day is that afterwards, you can take some photos together! If you don’t do a first look, these photos will happen after your ceremony. Getting them done earlier can give you a little bit more time to spend with your guests during cocktail hour and the reception. Along with that, if you do a first look, you can do wedding party photos and maybe even family photos before the ceremony too!
While I love first looks, I never want couples to feel pressured into anything on their wedding day! To help you decide if a first look is right for you, here are some potential cons as well.
If you do a first look, when you see each other during the ceremony, it of course, won’t be the first time. A lot of couples are fine with this, but for some, losing that moment at the ceremony can be a con to doing a first look. Saving the moment for your ceremony means your guests will be there for the moment too, and some couples like the idea of sharing it with their loved ones!
Another potential con of doing a first look is that there might be tears, and if you’re outside and wearing a dress, it might not look as clean for the ceremony. Getting the tears out before the ceremony is a bonus for some couples, but if you’re worried about looking put together for the ceremony, it can be a con.
If you decide to do a first look, you’ll need to be ready earlier than you would be for the ceremony. Wedding day schedules can often seem pretty tight already, so this is another potential con to consider.
You can personalize your first look with these ideas, or if you decide against doing one, there are some alternatives to add something special to your day!
You can do this one during the first look, or instead of a first look! Exchanging letters or gifts before the ceremony can be so meaningful, and lets you personalize your wedding day and do something special for your partner. After your first look, you can read the letters or open the gifts, and if you decide against a first look, you can have someone else deliver the letter or the gift!
Some couples also read their vows privately, then do generic ones at their ceremony – this can feel a little more personal, and it’s easier to get vulnerable without an audience.
Whether or not you do a first look with your partner, you can also do one with other people on your wedding day! First looks between parents and children on their wedding day are always really sweet, and some people like to put their dress on in private before revealing it to their wedding party with a first look.
You can do a first look with bridesmaids, parents, grandparents, your kids, or even your dog!
If you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, instead of a first look you can do a first touch! Stand on opposite sides of an open door, or on adjacent walls outside of a building – this way, you can hold hands without seeing each other. This gives you a special moment together before the ceremony, while preserving the first look at the ceremony.
When you’re weighing the pros and cons of a first look, or trying to decide how to personalize yours, don’t hesitate to consult your wedding photographer! My goal as a photographer is always to make sure my couples have the best time together – so I’m here to guide you through the planning process, give you advice, answer questions, and set up FaceTime dates to talk about all the details.
Reach out if you’re planning your wedding!