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A groom smiles big as he sees his bride in her dress in a white room in front of a window

Planning Advice

Is the First Look Wedding Tradition Right For Your Day?

October 17, 2023

Weddings are an inherently traditional occasion. Whether wearing a white dress, tossing a bouquet, or sharing a special dance with a parent, weddings are riddled with traditions. Today, however, more and more couples pick and choose the traditions they honor at their wedding. Maybe one feels particularly outdated or doesn’t serve the couple’s desires. Or maybe it’s a matter of convenience! One such tradition that couples have popularly reimagined is when a couple locks eyes at each other from across the aisle, seeing each other for the first time that day. Instead, more couples utilize the First Look wedding tradition or a pre-arranged meeting before the ceremony.

There is no right or wrong way to share this moment, whether walking down the aisle or hours before you say “I do.” It’s totally dependent on your preferences! Are you debating whether or not a First Look is the right choice for you and your partner? Keep reading to learn more about this new tradition, why couples choose to have one, and why the choice is totally up to you

A bride laughs in her dress while holding her pink bouquet as her groom in a black suit sees her for the first time before the ceremony A groom smiles big as he hugs his bride after seeing her for the first time in her dress A groom hugs his bride on a porch as he sees her dress for the first time A groom stands with hands in his pockets while crying after seeing his bride for the first time on their wedding day before the ceremony on a porch

What is a First Look at a Wedding?

Before discussing the benefits of the first look wedding tradition, let’s first clarify what it is. As I mentioned earlier, a First Look is a coordinated moment where you and your partner see each other for the first time before your wedding ceremony. It’s a quiet, private moment between the two of you that is truly just for you to pause, connect, and be present in your day. 

A First Look can take place indoors, outdoors, at your ceremony site, at the Airbnb where you are getting ready, or at a nearby park…it’s totally up to you. Just know that you are absolutely allowed to step away from your friends and family to share in this private moment. A First Look is about you, your partner, and no one else. 

For some couples, seeing their partner for the first time walking down the aisle is sacred, or something they’ve dreamt of their entire lives – and that’s perfectly wonderful, too. A First Look isn’t for everyone, and like everything else on your wedding day, the moment you lock eyes with your partner for the first time should be exactly what you want it to be. 

A groom smiles big as he turns around to see his bride for the first time as he wears a white suit A groom looks his bride up and down in a white suit and her silk dress on a patio as he sees her for the first time

Why The First Look Wedding Tradition is a Popular Choice

In today’s day and age, nearly half of all couples getting married opt to have a First Look. Let’s break down some factors that may go into this decision! 

Private Time With Your Spouse

Your wedding day may be all about you and your partner, but believe me when I tell you that you will likely have next to no time by yourselves. If you get ready separately, you’ll spend most of your day apart. Then, from the moment you walk into your ceremony, all eyes are on the two of you, and you’ll be in high demand of your adoring guests. 

A First Look can give you and your partner as much time as you like with just the two of you. Whether it’s five minutes to pause and connect or an hour or two to take your wedding portraits as a couple, the timing of your First Look is totally up to you. A wedding can be a stressful event, and the days leading up to your big day can feel overwhelming; having a little time to reconnect with your person and head into this incredible celebration with confidence and clarity can be a great gift. 

A bride taps the shoulder of her groom in a blue suit so he can turn around for his first look wedding A groom turns around to see his bride in her dress for the first time during a first look wedding A groom turns around to see his bride standing behind him in her dress for the first time during their first look wedding A groom stands with hands crossed smiling at his bride as he sees her for the first time on a porch during their first look wedding A bride and groom chat and stand together on a porch as he sees her in her dress for the first time during their first look wedding

All the Nerves & All the Joy!

Additionally, a lot of nerves build up leading to – and on – your wedding day. A lot of pressure rests on the moment you and your partner’s eyes first meet, especially in front of your guests. A First Look can help alleviate some of those wedding day jitters. 

Being able to process this moment privately can be a relief for many couples who aren’t sure how they feel about being the center of attention all day. Shaking off some of those nerves beforehand can be a great way to set yourself up to enjoy the rest of the day. 

If you’re wondering if a First Look makes your ceremony entrance any less impactful, it doesn’t. In fact, many couples say it’s even more beautiful and emotional because you’ve already had the chance to connect. That moment will be incredible no matter what, even if you’ve already spent some time together earlier that day. 

A bride in a lace dress smiles at her husband as he sees her for the first time at their first look wedding

Complete Your Photos Before the Ceremony With The First Look Wedding Tradition

One of the biggest perks to having a First Look is that you can buy yourself a lot of extra time to take your couples’ portraits. If you wait to see each other until your ceremony, we’ll have to use whatever time is allotted for cocktail hour to get your wedding portraits, as well as any formal family photos or pictures of both of you with your wedding parties. 

But if the pressure is off and you’re not trying to avoid each other leading up to the ceremony, we can take as much time as we want for photos! (The only real exception is during Golden Hour, when you’ll definitely want to step away for a few moments to get some romantic pictures with that glowing sunset light.) 

A groom is in shock as he sees his bride in her dress for the first time in front of a window A groom leans down to kiss his bride after seeing her for the first time before their ceremony A bride pushes her groom's chin back up as he sees her for the first time in her dress in a white building A groom smiles as he sees his bride for the first time in her silk dress before the ceremony A bride and groom lean in for a kiss while standing in a large white balcony indoors during their first look wedding

More Time With Your Guests

Less photos during cocktail hour means you get to spend more time with your guests! As the couple of honor, your attention will be pulled in every direction by people who adore you and are wholeheartedly thrilled for you. Having the extra time to make sure you can greet and hug every guest is a huge perk of having a First Look! 

Relax and Enjoy Your Day!

You’ve shaken off your wedding day jitters, captured all the photos ahead of time, and said “hello” to everyone during cocktail hour – now there’s nothing left to do but sit back and relax! Having that extra time during the day allows you to check everything off of your list nice and early so you can be present and enjoy the fruits of months and months of hard work and planning. 

A groom smiles at his bride while wearing a blue suit and pink tie as he sees her for the first time in her dress during a pre wedding first look A bride and groom lean in for a big hug while smiling and standing on a porch in a blue suit and white lace embroidered dress during their first look wedding A bride and groom stand on a porch holding hands during their first look before the wedding ceremony A groom in a blue suit and pink tie looks on in amazement as his bride twirls during their first look before the wedding ceremony

Would You Choose The First Look Wedding Tradition for Your Day?

Here’s the deal: it doesn’t matter what I think. Truly! Whether or not you decide to do a First Look is entirely up to you and your partner. I promise I’ll be able to take pictures in 30 minutes that are just as gorgeous as those I could take in 2 hours. This is your wedding day, and the only thing that should factor into your decision is your and your partner’s wants. Period. 

First Look Wedding

The First Look wedding tradition can be an excellent opportunity to connect with your partner before walking down the aisle. However, whether or not you choose to have one is totally up to you. Still on the fence? Let’s talk it out! I’m happy to discuss your thoughts and hesitations so you can decide what is best for your wedding day.

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Photographer, artist, father, occasional potter, inspired by music, good light, and you.

That's me and my wife on our wedding day. It was great, except for the part where we were stressed the whole time that there wasn't enough time for photos. Humblebrag scenester tumblr plaid narwhal offal tofu authentic hell of umami vaporware. Williamsburg sartorial put a bird on it craft beer YOLO. Quinoa austin woke, celiac iceland portland raw denim hella truffaut. Ennui fam flexitarian glossier.

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