First Look Coming Down Staircase bride and groom at foot of stairs

Should You Have a “First Look” Before the Ceremony?

Discover the benefits of incorporating a little modern twist to the wedding day!

As a modern twist to today’s bride, the idea of a “first look” is happening more often than not. Is this a good idea? What are the positives and the negatives to seeing your spouse before your wedding ceremony?

Photography & Videography
First Look Coming Down Staircase bride and groom at foot of stairs
Photo: Christine Bentley Photography

For decades and even centuries, a bride and groom are traditionally not supposed to see each other before the big reveal during the ceremony. Yet as a modern twist to today’s bride, the idea of a “first look” is happening more often than not. Is this a good idea? What are the positives and the negatives to seeing your spouse before your wedding ceremony?

There is an obvious benefit to seeing each other before the ceremony and that is: you get to complete almost all of your photos before the wedding even starts. You look your best, and you even get to decide how much time you have for photographs – essentially, you are able to start as soon as you and your photographer agree to begin. Couples who cherish photos will love knowing that they may never run out of time. You are even able to go to a different location and have more variety in your image choices. From a photographer’s point of view, these are the most intimate and magical photos ever captured. Couples that are alone for these moments create the most emotional and gorgeous images. After all, this is your wedding day and having ample time to take portraits only gives you the best possible outcome.

Another advantage is that you can also take care of family and wedding-party formal photos before the ceremony. Again, people are looking their best and these crucial photographs are not a slave to time, but rather planned into your day before the important moments! There is so much adrenaline leading up to your “I dos” that being able to celebrate straight away after the kiss and not pause for photos is pretty amazing, especially if going to the cocktail hour and enjoying your guests is important to you as a couple.

Many people feel that seeing your spouse-to-be before the wedding takes away from them seeing you walk down the aisle. However, no person has ever said, “hurry up and walk, I already saw you.” In fact, the anticipation from your guests, as well as the actual moment of matrimony, is never slighted from seeing each other prior to the ceremony, especially since your attendees may never know.

On the other hand, you may be very traditional and choose not to see your spouse prior. Does this mean that you will not be able to have amazing photos on your wedding day? Well, feel no pressure; clients tend to be half and half on this. A properly planned timeline will always allow your photographer to capture all of your formal photos, including personal and family. Logistically speaking this is done usually during cocktail hour, a one-hour break before your reception starts. A well-planned event has a list of family formals and wedding party photos to accomplish. A list helps this process move quickly so couples portraits aren’t cut short. When this runs smoothly, you are able to have your traditions upheld as well as your most-cherished photos.

While you ponder your best choice, know that both are great options. If you want a longer, more diverse portfolio on your wedding day, you may opt to do a “first look.” If tradition is more important to you, your timeline and a synced wedding team will help make your expectations of beautiful photos a reality. It’s your day and it must unfold how you’ve always dreamed.

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