Whether or Not to Do a First Look

June 04, 2019

Whether or Not to Do a First Look

There are several reasons why you may want to deviate from the traditional approach and see each other before you walk down the aisle!


If you haven't seen the movie 27 dresses, stop what you're doing right now and go watch it (honestly, where have you BEEN for the last 11 years). If you have seen it, you'll remember those famous lines that Jane and Kevin speak regarding their favorite moment of every wedding: 


Jane: "You know how the bride makes her entrance and everybody turns to look at her? That’s when I look at the groom. Cause his face says it all, you know? The pure love there."

Kevin: "When the bride comes in and she makes her giant grand entrance, I like to glance back at the poor {guy} getting married. Cause even though I think he’s an idiot for willingly entering into the last legal form of slavery, he always looks really, really happy."


The cynic and the romantic both are drawn to the same magical instant - that second when the groom sees the bride for the first time. In traditional weddings, that's when the bride walks down the aisle; in modern weddings, that's during a first look. 


First looks have been a wedding trend for about twenty years, and perhaps even longer depending on your source. If you're planning your wedding, you may be wondering if you should do one, and what the drawbacks may be either way! Kadlee's here to help you - we have a wedding photographer on our team that has photographed both kinds of weddings, and we interact with hundreds of brides that use our products. We know what you may not have thought of and what you need to know! 


Consider the following.....


  • It may be the only chance you have to be alone all day. Wedding days are pretty much hectic from start to finish - beautiful, and wonderful, but hectic. You're probably going to wake up with your bridesmaids and get started on hair and makeup fairly quickly, and from there it's all photos and hugs from extended family you never get to see...before you know it you're walking down the aisle in front of everyone, posing for more portraits, dashing to the reception to eat and mingle with everyone, dancing with all of your friends, and before you've even blinked the day is done! Your friends, family, and guests can't help but be all over you when they get the chance - they're not going to come to a wedding and not congratulate you, of course! But all of the interaction and busyness means you don't really get a special moment with your new spouse unless you intentionally plan it. First looks are a perfect way to slow the day down. You can say some really sweet things, read letters to each other, admire each other's finery, and just enjoy each other's company for a minute before you tie the knot. If you really want it to be purely alone time, you can opt out of having the photographer there period or just invite them for the actual first look and then shoo them away for five minutes so you can be alone. 

  • But it's not the only way to get a private, romantic moment. There are other ways to be with your soon to be forever teammate before the ceremony without actually seeing them. We've heard of couples standing back to back and reading letters to each other there, being blindfolded and praying with each other on a cozy couch (just touch up your mascara afterward), holding hands through a crack in the door while in separate rooms....the possibilities are only really limited by your creativity, so don't feel that a first look is the only way to be alone. Your photographer can be included or excluded from this "first touch" moment depending on your wishes! ****You can also get a first look with your dad, or your bridesmaids, or anyone else important to you, so you get some of the benefits without watering down the moment when your eyes meet his across the aisle!****


photo by Magnolia Studios and posted by UptownEntertainmentDJ


  • Speaking of photographers, the first look pictures have so many benefits. For one thing, your hair and makeup are fresh - you haven't cried yet, probably, you haven't been running around too much, so every hair is still in place, and you haven't wrinkled your dress (or God forbid, spilled something on it). You're fresh and glowing, and that's the best time to take pictures. For another thing, if the first look at your forever hubby does bring you both to tears, you'll have a change to touch up your makeup before the ceremony. Perhaps most importantly is the sweetness and quality of the photos themselves. You can stage them anywhere you'd like, so you have a greater variety and are not just limited to your ceremony venue, and you catch better natural lighting (especially if you're having a winter wedding, when the sun sets earlier).  Also, have you SEEN how precious first look photos can be? Go on Google or Pinterest to get some inspiration - that might decide the question for you right there!

  • But they also have one key con that no one seems to think of - you won't have your rings yet!None of the first look photos will capture you with rings on. You can always take more after the ceremony, but that is something to be aware of! 

  • You'll have to get ready earlier! Having time for a first look and photos before the ceremony means that you'll have to have your hair and makeup done and dress on a few hours before the ceremony. If the day is already packed, this might be tough on you, and it does mean you may miss out on sleep or other fun pre-wedding activities. 

  • It might help with nerves. If you don't like crying in front of people, or if you're anxious in the spotlight, a first look is a great way to shake off a little bit of the stress and relax! You get to be real with each other for a few minutes, as goofy and silly as you want to be, and you know that the most important person in the room has already seen you and already thinks you look amazing. 

  photo from The Knot's "First Look Photo Mistakes to Avoid"


  • It's a time saver. Being able to see each other before the ceremony means that you'll be able to take most of the photos with each other, immediate family, and the wedding party before the ceremony. This means that you'll be able to enjoy more of the reception and not keep your guests waiting so long to celebrate you. 

  • You won't have the experience of seeing everyone else see him seeing you for the first time! That one moment at wedding is special - for all our love of first looks, we can't deny it. If your eyes locking for the first time as you walk down the aisle is really important to you, and being able to have everyone else around you emotional at how emotional he is, then a first look may not be for you, and that's okay!

Which pro or con is the most compelling, or what do you think is the best reason for a first look? What are you leaning towards? Are there any first look pros and cons that we missed? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

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