To do a first look or not, that is the question! As a wedding planner it is my job to ask all the questions to ensure nothing gets forgotten and that the wedding timeline gets executed accordingly. One of the many questions I ask couples is “Do you wish to do a ‘First Look’?”. Sometimes they know for sure if they want it or not, and others have no idea what I am talking about! It’s a major factor in the timeline and should be decided upon early in the planning process, before finalising your ceremony and dinner reception times.

Tradition vs First Look

Traditionally the couple do not see each other before the ceremony! The groom’s first look at his bride is when she walks down the aisle, just like the photo below of a wedding in Budapest at Saint Stephen’s Basilica! Some even think it’s bad luck for the couple to see each other before the ceremony. 

Traditional First Look in Saint Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest | Eskuvoi Fotosom

I totally get why brides choose the traditional option, I did, and I have no regrets. My husband teared up when he saw me enter the doors of Saint Stephen’s Basilica at our wedding in Budapest. He sent a ripple effect of tears through the congregation and I’ve been told even amongst the tourists in the back wings!

It’s also tradition that after the ceremony the official photos are taken. This is often at a unique location where just the two of them escape to with their photographers and videographers. It’s a chance to have some private time together. I personally enjoyed having our time away during our wedding portraits. It was our chance to celebrate, we sipped champagne in the limo and the smiles for our photographs came naturally as we were so delighted to be officially married and relieved too that the ceremony had gone according to plan.

Create a fun First Look with your dog! | Iryna’s Photography

What is a first look?

A first look is a planned moment before the ceremony where the couple get to see each other without their guests. It’s usually an intimate moment in a secluded setting that will be captured by the wedding photographers and videographers.  

I have witnessed first looks and some amazing photos afterwards, that prove it has its appeal. If you are on the fence and undecided which way to go, I have compiled a list of pros and cons with some epic first look photos to inspire you!

Tears of Joy | Miranda Anderson Photography

Why do a first look? 

The Pros:

Your makeup and hair will be freshly done and looking perfect for your photos! It’s easy to get it messed up a little if you wait until after the ceremony. Your guests will undoubtedly want to give you kisses and hugs to congratulate you. That’s bound to leave you with a couple of hairs out of place and lipstick traces both on you and your groom! Your bouquet will also be looking its best!!

You can schedule all the wedding party photos before the ceremony, so afterwards the only formal images left to take are family photos. 

You’ll be able to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests and have some time to chat with family and friends. That can be difficult to do later in the evening, especially if you are planning a formal sit down dinner.

The first look is a great opportunity to give your dress a trial run before all eyes are on you at the ceremony. Unless you have taken part in beauty pageants or are a fashion model you have probably never worn a dress anything similar in shape to your wedding dress. More than likely you will hide the dress from your fiancé from the time you collect it from the bridal salon, you may not get an opportunity to try it on again until the wedding day! Having that extra time in your wedding dress for the first look can be  especially beneficial if your dress has a long train or veil. You may discover that it’s a bit more cumbersome to move in than you expected. If you are finding that anything is uncomfortable or you would like your train or veil to hang a certain way, then you can let your bridesmaids know how you would like it positioned when you walk, sit, stand and knee in it!

You won’t not have to worry about the sun going down for your photos. It could work out to your advantage having a first look, especially if your wedding is in the winter months and you are planning outdoor photos. The short days mean the sun can be down as early as 4pm, depending on where you live.

By having a first look you can calm those pre-ceremony nerves. The ceremony is by far the most nerve wracking part of the day! All that build up to seeing each other for the first time can leave you with butterflies in your stomach that may not subside until much later in the day. Some brides and grooms have admitted they don’t remember much of the ceremony as they were so riddled with nerves.

Delight in Connemara, Ireland | Aoife Herriott Photography

Why not to do a First Look!

The Cons:

A bride may not get the reaction she was looking for. Some grooms may feel the need to have a big reaction especially when there is a photographer ready on the sidelines. If he is the type to keep his emotions bundled up (and unfortunately a lot of guys do), then the bride could be left a bit disappointed!

It’s not completely private. Like I mentioned above your photographer(s) will be present plus your videographer(s) and at the very least your maid of honor and/or wedding planner, to be on hand if you should need anything!

You will have to get up earlier! If you are like me and enjoy your sleep then the first look may not be for you. It means you will have to start your beauty prep earlier to be ready well in advance of the ceremony. You don’t want to have puffy eyes from lack of sleep on your big day!

You’re family and friends will not get to witness your initial reactions to seeing each other for the first time!

First-look-photography-outdoor-oheka-castle-new-york-greg-finck-photography-at manicured-gardens-groom-waiting-for bride-under-floral-wedding-archway
Greg Finck Photography

Now you have all the major pros and cons of doing a first look. Hopefully they will help make your decision a bit easier. Whichever you choose, enjoy it and take the moment in!

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