Pros & Cons of Having a First Look

Written and Photographed by Curator Lisa of lisa kathan photography:

Whether or not to have a first look has plagued many-an-engaged couple since they’ve become more popular in recent years. But whether or not you should see one another before your ceremony depends on many factors.

Here are some reasons you might consider seeing one another before your ceremony, and a few why you might want to hold off till the bride walks the aisle.

When you SHOULD consider a first look

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You’re private people, and a first look will make you more comfortable. Couples frequently mention they love getting to have a moment alone to just enjoy each other and calm one other down. Seeing each other for the first time in your wedding clothes can be very emotional for some couples. So if you don’t want to have that moment in front of your guests, you should see each other beforehand to release some of that tension.

You want photos of your expressions when you see each other for the first time. The first time you see on another often results in some of the most emotional photos of the day. If you want to guarantee your photographer is able to capture these moments, you should have a first look.

You want to spend your day together. If you want to dress and see each other ASAP, then have a first look and be with your favorite person all day!

You don’t want to miss the cocktail hour or time with guests. If you get all your photos out of the way before the ceremony, all you have left to do afterward is party!

Your ceremony is in the fall/winter or in the evening. If you’ve chosen to marry right before sunset, you’ll need to consider a first look. Why? Unless you hire a wedding photographer who specializes in flash portraits, he or she will not have enough daylight to take quality natural light photos before it’s completely dark.

As a final note, most couples who do choose to have a first look, say that seeing each other beforehand didn’t take from the emotions of walking down the aisle. Locking eyes with your love as you’re ready to say I do, before your family and friends, is still very beautiful and emotional, and seeing each other beforehand won’t rob anything from that moment.


When you might NOT want to do a first look


Walking down the aisle and seeing one another for the first time is your dream. If you’ve fantasized about this moment, you probably shouldn’t have a first look. Stick with what will make your day feel most like the both of you.

You’d prefer to exchange letters instead. If you decide you don't want to do a first look with your partner, you can opt to exchange letters and read them privately. This gives you the chance to still have an emotional time away from everyone else, while still preserving your "walking down the aisle" moment.

Your ceremony is at least 3 hours before sunset. If your ceremony is scheduled with plenty of time before the sun sets, you should have time to take all of your photos after the ceremony. Depending on the size of your wedding party and family, these photos could take up to 2 hours, so if you don’t mind missing the cocktail hour or time away from your guests, you have the freedom to choose whether or not to do a first look!