Should I do a First Look?

First Look on Wedding Day

For those that don’t know, a first look on the wedding day is when the groom sees his bride, in a more private setting, for the first time before the ceremony. Many couples have a hard time making the decision to do a first look or not. Should they break from the traditional route where the groom first sees the bride down the aisle?

I decided to break it down and argue both sides of the first look debate. I want to help my future brides and grooms decide what they’re comfortable with. Have no regrets about your choice!   

First Look: Pros

1. If you do a first look before the ceremony, we can do the bulk of the couple’s portraits before most of your guests arrive. As a result, your guests will spend less time waiting for you to join them at the reception. This makes your day so much more enjoyable for all the people who have come out to see you.  

2. Doing a first look allows for more time for the couple’s portraits. If portraits are of high importance to you, a first look will get you tons of extra time for them! This is especially important if you have a Winter wedding. This is because the sun sets much earlier, and if we wait until after the ceremony, we may not get any natural light for your couples’ portraits. One way to overcome this if you don’t want to do a first look is to start the day early. Have an earlier ceremony time, and increase the hours of wedding day photography coverage. This way, you won’t miss having your reception events captured.

3. Doing a first look allows you and your spouse-to-be more time to be together. This is opposed to spending the majority of the wedding day apart.

4. First looks can be really sweet and heartwarming. After the bride walks down the aisle, the groom won’t have an opportunity to talk to her about what’s running through his mind. After all, it’s time for the ceremony to commence! If you do a first look, you can take as long as you want. You can tell each other how you’re feeling and express your emotions in a more private setting.

First Look: Cons

1. It breaks tradition for the groom to see you before the wedding ceremony. If tradition is really important to you, especially if you looked forward to seeing each other the first time as the bride walks down the aisle, you may not want to risk losing the “magic” of that moment.

However, some past brides and grooms who hesitated to do the first look at the beginning have found that it actually added to the experience. At the end, they were glad that they can let loose their emotions privately during the first look. These same couples have found that it was still magical when the bride walks down the aisle.

2. Maybe you don’t want the first look to be a private moment. You might want all your friends and family to be able to participate in that special experience with you.

First Look Alternative: First Touch!

If you want to do a first touch, where the groom can hold your hand but not see you yet until the ceremony, go for it! Some couples have done this in order to pray together before the ceremony. Or simply just to talk to each other and exchange a heart to heart!

Vancouver Wedding Photographer capturing joyful bride holding groom's hand before the ceremony

What I did when I got married

When I got married, both Victor and I opted out of the first look. We were more traditional and felt that not seeing each other before the ceremony heightened the anticipation. We both had a vision of me walking down the aisle, with all our friends and family there to witness it. In my mind, I envisioned him seeing me for the first time as the church doors open, and my dad leads me down the aisle. It was surreal and beautiful to us. Would we have felt the same even if we did the first look? Quite possibly! But we didn’t regret our decision.

One disclaimer, though… I had somehow gotten myself two wedding dresses (which is a story for another time). So, I decided to wear one for the ceremony and one for the reception, and we did a “first look” for the second dress after the ceremony and before the reception. After that first look, we dived straight into bridal party photos.

What about our guests? We had some refreshments for the guests after the ceremony, and people were mingling and having a good time. Because we got married near the city center, there was a park and a mall nearby. Some of the guests were able to make some last-minute shopping or strolled through the park after the refreshments. Many of them also lived in the area, and were able to go home, rest, and freshen up before the reception. I don’t think they missed us during the couple of hours we took to do portraits between the ceremony and reception time. We also knew that we will have time to spend with our out-of-town guests in the following days.

Looking back, though we had a lot of fun bridal party portraits, we ended up not having a lot of couple’s portraits together in my wedding dresses (especially the ceremony one), because we didn’t have a first look. I could’ve built it into our timeline, and taken more husband and wife photos if I had wanted. We had, however, done a pre-wedding photo shoot where we got a lot of portraits in wedding attire. So we were content.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong decision.

I shared my story because at the end of the day, there is no right or wrong decision. There are pros and cons to each decision, and that’s okay.

Choose which is your priority:

  1. Spending more alone time with each other on the wedding day, getting more couples portraits…
  2. Or spending an extra hour with your guests.

    Whichever you choose, it’s not wrong! There is no need to feel bad if you want to get more portraits! Because you can enjoy these photographs for the rest of your lives. It’s also not wrong to be satisfied with only a few portraits and spending more time with those who came from afar to celebrate and support your marriage.

Talk with your fiance, and respect each other’s wishes and desires. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you agree (even if it means a little sacrifice on certain things) with each other, and get married. I mean, that’s the whole point of a wedding, right? Getting married to each other and vowing to love one another for the rest of your lives.

I hope this helps! Happy planning!

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