Should I Have a First Look | The Pros and Cons

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To Be, Or Not To Be-

That is the question. No, no it’s not. The real question is whether or not to have a “First Look” on your wedding day. First things first, a first look is where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony on their wedding day. I’ll get into some of the reasons couples opt to do this in a minute. But first, take this nugget of advice in regards to planning your wedding day. There are a million people saying a million different things about what you “should do” and what you “shouldn’t do” in order to have a “great wedding”. Do what you want to do. Think about it, talk it over with your fiancee, and then go for it. There is no right or wrong way to plan and execute your wedding. Don’t feel like you have to follow a set of instructions or guidelines in order to have a successful day. You, marrying the one you love, is the ultimate goal and measure of success. Ok, off my soapbox now.

So I am not going to tell you what to do, but rather, list some pros and cons of doing a first look.


You’re traditional, and don’t want to deviate too much on your wedding day.

You want to see each other for the first time until the doors open and the bride is revealed.

You have to start your preparations a couple hours earlier in order to be ready for a first look.


Tradition? whats that?

You knock out all of the formal shots before the ceremony.

You buy yourself daylight that you may lose if you wait until after the ceremony

You get the butterflies out before the ceremony.

You are freed up for the cocktail to mingle with guests.

You don’t miss dinner hour because you have to mingle with guests.

Your formal pictures are a lot more laid back because you have more flexibility with time.

Sure there are other reasons for and against having a first look. Ultimately what the argument comes down to is whether or not you really care about seeing each other before the ceremony. I am sure all would agree that knocking out the formal pictures earlier would be nice, but sometimes it just isn’t worth it for couples who want to maintain the tradition of not seeing each other before the bride is escorted down the aisle. That is what you need to consider first before you think about all the other reasons. If  that tradition isn’t make or break for you, the pros typically outweigh the cons, at least in my opinion. I should note that when Christelle and I got married, we didn’t have a first look. We were not full time wedding photographers at the time, so we did not have the experience we now do. For us, that is one thing we would have liked to change about our wedding day.

Hold the press- There is one more option for you. You can have a hybrid first look where you are in a picture together before the ceremony, but you don’t actually see each other. This option is popular for couples who want to maintain not seeing each other, but like the look of a first look. You can do it a variety of ways; holding hands, talking with each other, closing your eyes, etc. You can get really creative depending on what you are comfortable with.

Anyway, I know I told you that I wouldn’t tell you what I think you should do- and I won’t. It doesn’t “really” change anything on our end, but it absolutely will have an effect on your day. If you are debating it, and have some questions, don’t hesitate to ask us. As always, we try to be as helpful with the planning process as we can. Whether you decide to have a first look or not, remember, do what you and your fiancee decide and you can’t go wrong.

Here are a few images from actual first looks.

Lime Spring Farm Wedding PhotographerBest Wedding photographers in PhiladelphiaBest Philadelphia Wedding PhotographerFirst lookBest Wedding Photographer in ReadingFirst lookRiverdale Manor Wedding PhotographerRiverdale Manor Wedding Photographer

To proved to you that it won’t ultimately affect your images, here are a handful from couples who did, and did not, do a first look.

Winter Wedding at Riverdale ManorModern wedding photography in State CollegeModern wedding photography in PhiladelphiaWedding Photographers in BaltimoreBest Wedding photographers in PhiladelphiaPhotographers in LancasterPhiladelphia-Wedding-Photographer-0563Best Philadelphia Wedding Photographer