Should You Have a ‘First Look’? The Pros and Cons

If you’ve talked to any other vendor already, you’ve probably been asked “So… Are you doing a First Look?” Heck, even your bff might have asked you! Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means – you’re in good company. A first look is simply a way of asking, “Will you be seeing each other before the ceremony?” Traditionally, couples will wait until the bride walks down the aisle before seeing each other for the first time. However, it’s becoming more and more popular to privately see each other before the ceremony for a number of different reasons.

From a photography viewpoint, having a first look generally means that we also do a majority of the bridal and party photos before the ceremony. This gives you more time for photos and more time to spend with your guests later. I would say that of the couple’s I’ve photographed who chose to see each other beforehand, the majority of them chose to do it for timing reasons. They wanted photos at a different location or more time to party and they didn’t care about the no-peeking rule.

Ultimately, this is a decision that you have to make as a couple and be comfortable with. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no right or wrong way when it comes to seeing your fiancé for the first time in your wedding get up.

Here are the pros and cons, and if you’re still on the fence and want to talk objectively about it in regards to your specific situation, I am all ears.


  1. You can choose a different location for your first look and portraits because you are not having to fit it all into a short amount of time between the ceremony and reception
  2. You’ll enjoy a private moment before wedding frenzy commences where you can check in with each other and share any funny stories from the morning
  3. Without the restrictions of the ceremony (were you stand, lighting, etc…) a first look gives you better photos of that moment
  4. You’ll get most of your planned photos out of the way before the ceremony and enjoy more of cocktail hour with your friends. (And less of a wait for guests between the ceremony and reception)
  5. If you think you’re going to cry when you see each other, you can freshen up afterwards
  6. If you get married in the winter, there’s no reason to worry about disappearing light if you run late. A first look gives a buffer for a ceremony that starts or runs late. It’s not as important in the summer, but remember that the sun often sets mid afternoon in the winter


  1. You’ll have to be up and at ‘em much earlier on your wedding day. First looks and portraits push the timeline earlier by a couple hours – not ideal if you are having a morning ceremony
  2. If hair or makeup runs late, we’ll have less time to do portraits before the ceremony and will have to carve out extra time later in the day
  3. Your dress might get a little bit dirty if you’re wanting to have your first look outdoors
  4. For some, seeing each other at the ceremony for the first time is very important, and a first look may take some of the specialness of that away
  5. It may upset some of your more traditional family members. Ultimately this is not a decision to make based on the opinions of others, but it’s still something you’ll need to consider
  6. Some people don’t like the idea of not actually being married yet in their portraits