How to Decide on a First Look at Your Wedding

How do you decide whether or not to do a wedding first look? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a first look is when you as a bride and groom set aside a few minutes before your wedding ceremony to see one another. This moment can be unique for everyone. Some brides love it to simply show their groom their wedding dress and the whole fit. Some couples love to share private vows with one another. Others exchange gifts. But no matter what you do with this time, it should be up to YOU if you do one.

Why do I say that as if you wouldn’t have a choice? Well, some wedding vendors might make it seem like it’s the only way to have a successful wedding timeline. Some might pressure you into doing a first look for their photo schedule. But I’m here to tell you that as long as we plan together in advance, we can make your wedding day whatever makes sense for you.

Here are 3 things to consider when deciding whether or not to do a wedding first look:


Every time I have a bride who feels really nervous while getting ready, I always tell her, “Once you see your groom, I promise you will feel SO much better.” And guess what? She ALWAYS feels calmer when she sees her groom. That applies for first looks or not. A first look just gives opportunity to calm the nerves sooner. Your first look won’t necessarily make it so you don’t have any jitters before the ceremony, but I have witness many weddings where it helps SO much.

Also, many of our brides and grooms like to do private, personal vows at their first look instead of their ceremony, like Lauren and Christian did. Maybe you don’t want to talk more than necessary at your ceremony, or maybe you just want to exchange notes or gifts. Maybe you two will pray together and have a sweet time of bringing your day before the Lord before you go make your covenant. This time is yours to have a personal moment. Do whatever you want to make it special to YOU and calms your nerves. If you don’t want to do a first look, but you still want a special moment, consider a first touch, like Elijah and Erika.


Doing a first look allows you to get a lot of photos done before the ceremony. You can do couple’s portraits, full bridal party photos, and even family photos. Whether it’s a preference, or time at your venue is short, this can be a fantastic option. I’ve seen this just relieve mental stress before in my brides. Their checklist is done and their ceremony can happen followed by a super fun party. In winter wedding months when the sun sets sooner, it can be a game changer! Doing photos before your ceremony also gives you the option to join cocktail hour. BUT! With proper planning with your photo/video team and coordination, you can do photos before or after the ceremony. Just make sure to plan for lighting and time with your vendors either way.

If I have a couple who does not want to do a first look, I will try to make sure their ceremony time is early enough to fit in those photos after the ceremony and before their reception. If their ceremony time was set before they booked with me and I notice we will have no daylight left, I’ll tell them the truth–the sunset may not be in your favor for that set up.

Ceremony Altar moment

If you want to reserve walking down the aisle as the first time your groom sees you in your wedding dress, go for it!! This is so special and fun. It’s the traditional way a groom sees his bride on their wedding day. The anticipation builds up all day, he stands next to his best man, and you walk down the aisle in all your glory for the first time. If you’re worried the first look will take away from that moment, you absolutely can skip the first look.

BUT! That aisle moment is SO special and unique in and of itself, regardless of if you did a first look or not. I have seen tears streaming down grooms’ faces even after having seen his bride beforehand. It is largely based on the groom’s personality and the feelings of the day. A first look won’t ruin this moment. It could potentially change it, because your groom will have already seen you, but there is something about that moment where he sees you walking down the aisle to him, ready to exchange vows in front of everyone. Every time, this moment is amazing.

Whether this moment is THE first look for you or not is 100% always your call. This is extremely personal in preference.

Ok so, now what?

Remember, this is your decision to make. These factors all have pros and cons. Don’t let someone tell you that you HAVE to do it one way or the other, simply because that’s the way they did it at their wedding. If you have a vendor who is pushing you towards having a first look, you may want to consider their professional opinion about why–it will usually be about time and light. Work together to find the best solution, and enjoy your day!

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