What’s the deal with The First Look?

If you’re not familiar with the idea of a First Look (also sometimes called a First Glance), it is a chance for couples to see each other prior to the ceremony in a guided moment, typically with their photo & video team capturing the event. Some couples will exchange a special wedding gift or a card/note during this time [cue the waterworks!], others will skip the gifts and just focus on getting to see each other privately for the first time on their wedding day.

Most of our clients haven’t been married before, so imagining how you’ll feel on your wedding day can be tough. So how can you decide whether a First Look is right for you? Consider some of the thoughts below for help making your decision!

For many couples, it is a chance to dissolve all of the nerves that can build up while getting ready for your ceremony. If you’re not great at reacting publicly during big moments – which is definitely true for lots of people! –  it can be nice to be able to do that privately so you don’t feel so much pressure leading up to the start of your ceremony. With dresses, tuxes, flowers, and hair & make up all done up, it can be a super fun time to be together and a chance to slow down and really take it all in. Small Bonus: If you’re confident that tears may be a part of these moments for you, it’s also a nice way to have some touch up time before your ceremony begins. Or if you’re like me and turn into a giant splotchy tomato after crying, it’s a great chance to skip the red-faced look for your ceremony by giving yourself some time to recover before the ceremony begins 😉

Couples who do a First Look end up spending much more of the day together, often traveling around with their wedding party for fun photos around their city or venue location.  It can open up your wedding day schedule to allow more time overall for photo & video coverage. Your photographer and videographer will surely appreciate this! Without a First Look, you don’t usually see your future spouse until later into the day and then it is typically a very packed schedule for the rest of the afternoon/evening filled with agenda items and visiting with your guests. All of this is super fun, of course, but it isn’t usually quiet, or just the two of you – so the feel is just different.

Photo by Emmalee Luckas Photography

The most frequent argument we hear against doing a First Look is: “It’s tradition.” It is definitely a break from the tradition that says the couple can’t or shouldn’t see each other until they are walking down the aisle. And for our clients who love the idea of keeping this tradition for their wedding day, we support you! We can help you arrange a wedding day timeline with or without a First Look – and with careful planning both can work out just fine. For those who feel like tradition for tradition’s sake isn’t reason enough to do anything, planning for a First Look might be a helpful option for you.

We also hear the idea that doing a First Look might change the feeling of seeing each other at the ceremony. In our experience, that is not the case. This is mainly because there are so many other elements of the ceremony that are not a part of your First Look. For example, you have selected special music for your ceremony that you’ll not be hearing at your First Look; you have a roomful of the people who love and care about you at your ceremony, whereas most First Look moments are intended and planned to be private between the couple only; you also have the reality of the big moment where you’ll be actually getting married that is right upon you; you’re seeing & experiencing your ceremony processional in those moments, which is also not a part of your First Look. You can’t substitute anything for the specialness of those last pre-ceremony moments. 

To date, we haven’t had a couple do a First Look and then say they wish they hadn’t done so. On the flip side, if traditions are important to you, we’d never want you to regret a choice you made that didn’t fit your feelings – so whichever you choose, be confident that everything will all work out and that you’ll have a great wedding day either way! We try not to advocate for any one decision as a solution for everyone, because we know each couple and each wedding day is different. What we do push for is informed decision-making and staying true to yourselves, when you do that you’ll always make the right choice for you!