bride and groom doing first look on wedding day

10 First Look Pros and Cons to Know

May 12, 2021
By Wedding Spot

First looks have become a juggernaut trend in the wedding industry. Scroll through any wedding blog and you’re bound to find loads of pictures of happy couples reacting to seeing their beloved as a bride or groom for the first time. But a first look isn’t for everyone. Whether or not you do one is a completely personal decision, but it can still certainly be a difficult one to make. Being so, we put together this list of first look pros and cons to hopefully help steer you in the right direction.

Is a first look right for you? Explore these 10 first look pros and cons to find out:

Pros of doing a first look

1. A first look may help you calm down.

Afraid of shaking like a leaf at the altar? Wedding day jitters are real, and they happen for a reason. Instead of waiting to see each other during the ceremony — which is likely one of the most important moments of both of your lives — why not comfort each other before the big moment? Take this quote from a bride who opted to do a first look as an example:

“Honestly seeing Mitch a couple hours before the wedding ceremony made me feel 100% better,” said Marcelline, a bride whose first look story was published on a Temecula, California wedding photography blog. “I was so nervous, and all I wanted was just to see Mitch and have a couple moments alone with him before all our guests arrived. I will always remember that look he had on his face, the moment he turned around. It helped calm me down, gave me my appetite back, and he even brought beer which was the best part!”

2. A first look will give you and your soon-to-be spouse some pre-wedding privacy.

Some couples opt to say their vows during their first look, allowing them to experience all the excitement and love without the audience. If you want that emotional moment to be intimate and private, then a first look is a great idea for you.

3. A first look will make for some incredible pictures — and save time down the road.

If you want to kick back and enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family, then a first look might be for you. Some couples don’t get the opportunity to pal around with their guests until dinner so they can take care of wedding photos during cocktail hour. The first look allows couples to get the photos out of the way and just enjoy the moment. Plus, first look photos are absolutely precious.

4. First looks open the door for creativity.

Unlike first looks that occur at the altar, behind-the-scenes first looks give couples additional opportunities to be creative. Take this excerpt from Emily Kyle Photography’s blog as an example:

“I’ve had couples read letters to one another from opposite sides of a door before seeing one another. Another bride did a first-look with her father before the first-look with the groom. With others, we’ve played up the uniqueness in architecture or location for special photos.”

5. A first look will allow you to freshen up before the ceremony.

Are you worried about possible waterworks when you first see each other? If you get teary-eyed at the altar, you’ll have little chance to compose yourself or freshen up before saying your I dos. A first look gives you the opportunity to enjoy the emotions of the moment without worrying about walking down the aisle with running mascara (but that’s totally OK, too!).

Cons of a first look

1. You may have to fix your hair and makeup after a first look.

While potentially getting the waterworks out of the way can be viewed as a first look pro, it can also be viewed as a first look con, because you may have to set some time aside to fix your hair and makeup between the first look and the ceremony.

2. A first look may make your wedding day schedule more complicated.

Doing a first look takes time, so you’ll need to find a window and squeeze in some extra time into your busy schedule that day. This may mean waking up and getting all of your hair and makeup done earlier than you might have originally planned or perhaps switching up the wedding day order of events. It’s nothing that a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator can’t handle, but it’s still worth noting.

3. A first look may be too private for some.

Some couples love the idea of sharing that special moment with their soon-to-be spouse, but others may feel like their closest friends and family are left out. However, there are no rules here! Want to include your parents and bridal party in your first look? Who says you can’t?

4. A first look may feel awkward.

While a first look is incredibly private, as mentioned above, it usually includes a photographer or videographer, too. For some couples, that could make the situation feel a bit awkward and staged.

5. A first look isn’t considered “traditional” to some.

A first look is a more recent phenomenon. Some couples simply want to keep their big day more “traditional,” which includes the dramatic unveiling of each others’ ensembles and smiling faces during the ceremony. If you’ve always dreamed of this magical moment, don’t change it for the sake of changing it.

Now you know a few first look pros and cons!

Remember, there’s no right or wrong decision. What works for one couple may not work for another. It’s up to you and your partner to determine what works best for you and roll with it! We know it will be amazing no matter what you choose.

Up next, check out our 25-step guide on how to plan a wedding.

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Wedding Spot

Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.