Spotlight: The First Look Dilemma

Evaluating the pros and cons of this trendy wedding tradition
Written by
Laura Cross

The "first look" in the context of a wedding refers to a pre-arranged, private moment between the couple before the actual ceremony begins. During the "first look," the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day, often in their wedding attire, away from the eyes of the guests. The intimate encounter is typically orchestrated by the wedding photographer to capture the genuine emotions and reactions of the couple. Couples opting for a "first look" often weigh the desire for a special, personal moment against the traditional custom of seeing each other for the first time at the altar during the ceremony.

Navigating the intricate decisions of a wedding day involves careful consideration of traditions, emotions and logistical choices. Among these considerations, the "first look" has emerged as a pivotal moment for couples about to be married. This pre-ceremony encounter brings forth a myriad of perspectives. While some couples swear by the magic of this intimate encounter, others remain committed to the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the altar. In this Spotlight feature, wedding experts help us explore the pros and cons of opting for a first look on your wedding day – shedding light on the nuanced factors that contribute to creating a memorable and meaningful wedding experience.

Jamison Evans and Tania Trombetta, Jamison + Tania Events

  • Emotional Intimacy: A First Look allows for a private and intimate moment, capturing genuine emotions between the couple before the ceremony.
  • Time for Photos: Opting for a First Look provides more time for capturing bridal party and couple photos, ensuring a stunning collection before the ceremony begins.
  • Alleviates Nerves: Some couples find that a First Look helps to ease pre-ceremony jitters, creating a calming and reassuring experience.
  • Extended Celebration: By incorporating a First Look, couples can join the post-ceremony festivities sooner, maximizing the time spent with guests.


  • Tradition: For couples valuing tradition, the anticipation of seeing each other for the first time at the aisle might outweigh the benefits of a First Look.
  • Logistical Challenges: Scheduling a First Look requires careful coordination to avoid accidental encounters and ensure a seamless transition to the ceremony.
  • Pressure to React: There might be external pressure for the couple to react in a certain way during a First Look, which can feel forced for some individuals.
  • Privacy Concerns: Not everyone may be comfortable with an intimate moment being captured on camera, preferring to keep these moments entirely private.

Magnolia West Photography
Magnolia West Photography

To offer a unique twist and address some concerns associated with a First Look, Jamison + Tania Events alternatively recommends a "First Touch," which allows the couple to share a private and emotionally charged moment without actually seeing each other.

Couples can also discreetly exchange notes or gifts, capturing these tender moments through the lens of a photographer to be cherished later.

Sergey Green Photography
Sergey Green Photography

Kate Noelle, Kate Noelle Photography
It's not as much a pro or con of a first look, but I believe that it's very special to get ready for your wedding together. Help each other zip zippers, tie ties, and spend one-on-one time together before the craziness of a wedding day begins.

Kate Noelle Photography
Kate Noelle Photography

Fran Steiner, Events By Fran
The pros about doing a couple’s first look is that you get that intimate first look privately and enjoy that moment with each other.  It also allows the couple to finish their formal pictures earlier, which frees up some time for them to attend cocktail hour with their guests. 

The con about a couple’s first look is that you won’t capture the “traditional” look of the groom seeing the bride walk down the ceremony aisle.   

Ali Beck Photography
Ali Beck Photography