The Pros and Cons of First Look Photos

December 28, 2023

Filed in: Wedding Tips

First look wedding photos are such a great trend that has emerged in the past few years! However, deciding whether or not to have a first look can be a tough decision for many couples. Do you stick with tradition or go for an alternative approach? Do you want that big “wow” moment as you walk down the aisle or do you want to actually make it to cocktail hour? It’s a lot to consider and can affect the timeline of your big day. That’s why I want to share the pros and cons of having a first look on your wedding day so that you can make the best decision for you!

What is a first look?

Now, you may be wondering, what exactly is a first look? Well, it’s when the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony. We arrange a time in the wedding day timeline and choose a location away from family and friends where the couple can have a private moment. The groom gets into position while the bride is tucked away nearby so she can’t be seen. The groom stands looking away, usually at the photographer, while the bride starts walking towards him. She taps him on the shoulder and he turns around to see his beautiful bride for the first time! The first look is also a great opportunity to have some fun and get creative and there are so many ways to do it! (I’ll share more on that later).

The Pros

Less time is needed between the ceremony and reception.

Having a first look on your wedding day is not only practical, but it also saves a lot of time from a photography perspective. By taking most of the photos before the ceremony, such as the bride and groom photos, wedding party, and family portraits, you can get the three main portraits done before the ceremony even starts. This means that after the ceremony, there are fewer photos to take, and couples can get to their cocktail hour or reception sooner. Plus, it’s less stressful for the photographer, as there’s less of a need to rush.

No one is watching you.

One of the great things about having a first-look on your wedding day is that the wedding party and your family members are not around. This not only saves time later in the day, but it also makes couples more comfortable because they’re only with their photographer and videographer for their bride and groom portraits. There’s less pressure to not cry or react a certain way with all of your guests watching, which allows couples to emote more authentically when they’re alone. This creates a magical and emotional moment that is truly unforgettable!

You get a moment of privacy together.

Having a first look on your wedding day gives couples a precious moment together before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Weddings can be hectic with family and friends around, and it can be hard for couples to find a quiet moment to really take in their day. First looks provide the perfect opportunity to connect and relish in the day before being surrounded by loved ones. It’s a chance to take a breath, hold hands, and appreciate the love and commitment you share before the rest of the day unfolds.

It doesn’t spoil the reveal at the altar.

Trust me, it definitely doesn’t spoil the reveal at the altar! Wedding days are SO exciting and you’ll both still be overwhelmed with emotion at the altar surrounded by your most loved family and friends.

It calms the nerves.

The first-look is also a great opportunity for couples to ease their nerves before the official ceremony. You can hold each other for as long as you want without the pressure of reciting any vows. Plus, if you’re worried about crying at the altar, the first-look allows you to get those tears out of the way beforehand.

It guarantees daylight for portraits.

Wedding days can be hectic, and there may only be a short amount of time for your photographer to capture photos of just the two of you. However, having a first look ensures that you have at least 30 minutes of portrait time before the ceremony, in addition to your golden hour portraits before your reception entrance. This is especially important for winter weddings when the sun sets early. With a first look, you can make the most out of your photography time and capture beautiful moments that you’ll cherish forever.

It’s an opportunity to have fun and get creative!

During a first look, couples have the opportunity to exchange letters or even personal vows, either written out loud or privately depending on their preference. It’s also a great time for gift giving, and who knows, you might be lucky enough to receive a special surprise like a wedding Louis Vuitton bag, just like the bride below! The options for first look experiences are endless, and you can even include your father or bridesmaids in the special moment. Let your imagination run wild and create a unique and memorable first-look experience that reflects your personalities and love story.

The Cons

You break “tradition”.

One potential downside of having a first look is that you miss out on the big reveal at the altar. If you’re someone who values tradition or is superstitious, then the first-look may not be the best option for you.

You’ll have to start the day earlier.

Another challenge of having a first look is that it adds another event earlier in the day before the ceremony, which means you’ll need to be ready earlier. If anything unforeseen happens before the first look, such as hair and makeup taking longer than anticipated or the flowers being delayed, then the time for the first look and bride and groom portraits could get shortened. In some cases, the timeline may need to be adjusted to accommodate any unexpected issues.

You’ll want to wearing your wedding bands before your actually married.

First looks are done before the ceremony, which means that you won’t be legally married in some of your portraits. While this may be a concern for some couples, others may not find it to be a significant issue. Regardless, it’s important to consider this aspect when deciding whether or not to have a first look on your wedding day.

It can add pressure to react a certain way.

While it’s rare, some couples may find that having a first look makes them more nervous. In a way, it’s not as private as it may seem, since you’ll be sharing such an intimate moment with your photographers and videographers. However, a good photographer will do their best to be as unobtrusive as possible. Some couples may also feel pressure to react and emote on cue, which can be nerve-wracking. If you’re feeling unsure about having a first look or if it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t feel like you have to break tradition. A great photographer will still be able to create magical portraits after the ceremony, even if there’s more pressure for time.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the decision to have a first-look or not is a matter of personal preference. It can be a difficult decision to make, and you may want to consider the wishes of your family members or defer to your fiance’s opinion. However, it’s important to take into account your wedding timeline, the available daylight, and most importantly, how you feel about it.

To make the wedding planning process easier, consider downloading my Free Wedding Planning Checklist. It’s a comprehensive guide that will help you stay organized and on track with all of your wedding planning tasks.


save + share this post on:

Read And Leave A Comment →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Weddings, Branding, Lifestyle, Seniors, Engagements, Wedding Tips, Business Advice

browse by category:

Being a wedding photographer is all about SHOWING UP for your clients in big ways that don’t always involve a camera – fixing boutonnières, fluffing dresses, playing meteorologist in the event of rain, de-stressing aunt Karen whose freaking out about table signage (lol), or dabbing away tears to save that gorgeous face of makeup.

Honestly, over the years I've learned to approach the day as a balancing act between being proactive and stepping back. It's knowing when to step in and initiate moments to their full potential such as directing poses that make you look hella good, but also stepping back for the quiet and introspective moments when sweet granny kisses you on the cheek.

It's letting the natural, candid moments flow, and when it's time for portraits, you have an expert to direct you, guide you, and help you walk with confidence.

So if you're looking for a photographer to show up and pour 110% into you and your wedding day, to capture all these meaningful and emotional moments, to be more than just your photographer but truly a friend... then look no further cuz I'm your girl. 

What makes me
                     than other photographers?

What makes me
than other photographers?



the dap experience