The Pros and Cons of Having a First Look

Most planning brides have see the trend of having a highly anticipated “first look” moment. We see a bride sneaking up behind her groom, tapping the back of his shoulder, and the reveal of the groom’s emotional reaction to his beautiful bride. It’s a sweet moment. But, while there are some pros to a first look, there are some cons as well. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to sidestep tradition, consider these benefits (and cons).

PRO: YOU CAN PICK MULTIPLE LOCATIONS.

If photos are super important to you, then take advantage of multiple locations and settings for portraits. Often couples will take advantage of their getting ready location, such as a hotel or Air B&B. Other offsite ideas include utilize local park, downtown/city background, historical sites and more. It will require transportation, such as a trolley or limo, but who’s complaining? This way you have multiple backdrops for your wedding pictures before the party begins.

PRO: ENJOY A CALM MOMENT BEFORE THE CHAOS.

A first look is a wonderful moment before the day officially starts to connect with one another and take a deep breath. Once you walk down the aisle, the evening will go by in a blink. You’ll be more relaxed with a first look because you won’t be crunched on time, plus have more time for couple portraits! Bonus: You can also enjoy cocktail hour having a private moment, sharing a glass of champagne, rather than spending that time doing hundreds formal photos. (Trust me, you’ll want to get the party started!)

CON: THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE A GROOM SEEING HIS LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME.

One of the biggest cons is the lack of tradition. There’s nothing like the groom seeing his love for the first time when they walk down the aisle. It’s the most magical moment! Some couples are very private with their emotions, so this is something to discuss among yourselves what feels right. If you do not have a first look, the initial walk down the aisle can allow for some special moments at the altar.

PRO: YOU CAN GET EMOTIONAL.

A first look definitely does not spoil the ceremony. You’ll be overwhelmed with emotion no matter what, so if you want to see your partner beforehand, don’t skip it. For a lot of couples, the pressure of being the center of attention during the ceremony can be overwhelming. First looks provide privacy for those intimate moments and ensure the two of you can be exactly yourselves. (Okay, considering your photographer and possibly some of your wedding party will be within sight for your first look, it won’t be completely private. But, a lot less people will be watching you both!) And if you do cry, you’ll be able to fix your makeup before the ceremony!

CON: YOU MAY HAVE TO ADJUST YOUR TIMELINE.

If you decide on a first look, you will most likely have to get ready earlier, to accommodate the extra hour or so of pictures before the ceremony. This may require you have to be ready even earlier than you’d planned, so depending on your ceremony time, it can mean an earlier wakeup call. But no worries, your wedding planner will help coordinate the flow of the day!

PRO: BE TOGETHER ON YOUR WEDDING DAY.

I encourage our couples to spend as much time together as possible on their wedding day! Of course, you will be celebrating with all of your friends and family, but ultimately, this day is about you two. You would be surprised how much time you actually spend apart of this day! From getting ready, to separate portraits, to being pulled every direction by fawning family members and guests, private moments on your wedding day can be few and far between. Make a point to build in time to enjoy your day together and soak up every love-filled moment.

Photo: Kelsey LeFever

PRO: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BEAUTIFUL LIGHTING

What do all of the beautiful wedding day photos you’ve been obsessing over have in common? Beautiful lighting! If you want swoon-worthy wedding portraits, the light has got to be right! Many times, ceremonies begin later in the evening and you can miss out on the golden hour light for portraits! This is especially true in the fall and winter, when the sun goes down much earlier. A first look guarantees beautiful light to ensure your first photos together are as beautiful as you have always envisioned!

Photo: Arielle Peters

Still unsure what to do or need to compromise with your partner? Consider a ‘first touch’ – you’ll still get that moment of being with each other before all the craziness sets in without ruining the surprise-factor at the aisle. You could hold hands around opposite sides of a corner or even just put some blindfolds on while you talk, pray, or just have some peace and quiet together.

There’s definitely no right or wrong answer. Regardless of what you decide, that moment that you and your partner see each other for the first time on your big day together will be special and memorable!

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