Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re sure to have seen a ton of photos floating around social media of the highly anticipated “first look” moment. We see an anxious bride sneaking up behind her groom, tapping the back of his shoulder, and the reveal of the groom’s emotional reaction to his beautiful bride. It seems like a fairytale…and it seems even more like everyone is doing it these days.
While the first look has definitely been a rising trend on the big day, there’s still a fair share of couples that stick to tradition (or superstition) and save that special moment for the altar.
So, why do it? Or why not do it? We’ll walk you through the pros and cons and let YOU decide.
Pro: A first look will allow more time for photos…and therefore, more photos overall.
Normally, without a first look, photos are taken during the cocktail hour between your ceremony and reception. That means you’re more pressed for time since you’re working on a tight timeline and your guests are waiting on you. But if you have a first look before your ceremony, you can allow for hours ahead of time to get all those perfect shots you’ve envisioned.
Con: Your day will have to start much earlier.
Starting the photography process before the ceremony means you’ll need to get an early start on your entire day. This means there will be less time in the day for you to get your hair and makeup regime completed, for everyone in the wedding party to get dressed and ready, etc.
Pro: You’ll have more time to actually enjoy your wedding.
Having a first look and taking all (or most) of your wedding photos beforehand means you’ll actually get to mingle and enjoy yourself among your guests during cocktail hour!
Con: Your wedding party and family might get bored during pre-wedding photos.
If you spend several hours beforehand taking photos, your family and wedding party will have to spend a lot of that time just standing around. You and your fiancé will be swept away to take ‘sweetheart’ photos, but the rest of the group will be left since they won’t be in all of the photos, of course.
Pro: It will settle your and your fiancé’s nerves before the ceremony.
On the day of, there’s a lot of buildup to the ceremony - you know you’re going to have to speak in front of a crowd of people, all eyes will be on you, you’ll be on camera, and you want everything to go perfectly. So it’s totally normal to have jitters! Seeing your fiancé before everything goes down should help you feel more comfortable and reassure yourselves that you’re in it together.
Con: It takes away that “special moment” at the altar.
The first time you and your fiancé see each other on the day of your wedding will be special, regardless. But if you really want that moment to happen at the aisle/altar, then a first look will take that away from you.
But while you may lose that special feeling at the ceremony, it’s not like your guests will feel any different. Your guests don’t have to know that you took pictures together beforehand! For all they know, that moment IS the first time you’re seeing each other and they’ll feel the magic anyways.
Pro: A first look will be more private and intimate than the ceremony.
Okay, considering your photographer and possibly some of your wedding party will be within sight for your first look, it won’t be completely private. But, a lot less people will be watching you and your fiancé have that moment than if you have it in front of your entire guest count at the ceremony.
Con: Or…it could be awkward.
With your photographer and videographer documenting you, you might feel a little staged and uncomfortable in what is supposed to be a candid moment. Seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, instead, means you don’t really need to worry about how you react or what you say when seeing your fiancé.
Pro: If you’re worried about crying, a first look might get that out of the way.
And if you do cry, you’ll be able to fix your makeup before the ceremony!
Con: Your dress or your bouquet might take a beating.
If you take a lot of your photos outside in the sun, your bouquet or boutonnieres could end up looking a tad dry and wilted when it’s time for the ceremony. More likely, the bottom of your wedding dress could pick up some dust and dirt…and then you’ll have to feature that as you walk down the aisle.
Still unsure what to do or need to compromise with your fiancé? Consider a ‘first touch' - you’ll still get that moment of being with each other before all the craziness sets in without ruining the surprise-factor at the aisle! You could hold hands around opposite sides of a corner or even just put some blindfolds on while you talk, pray, or just have some peace and quiet together.
You could also consider doing a first look with someone other than your partner! Set up a reveal in front of your wedding party! Or, ask the photographer to snap some photos of the first time your parent sees you. These “first looks” can often be just as raw and emotional as they look between couples.
There’s definitely no right or wrong answer. Like we said, that moment that you and your fiancé see each other for the first time on your big day together will be special and memorable, regardless!