Should we do a First Look? Part 1…To Look!

The idea of a “first look” became popular a few years ago along with Pinterest and the explosion of wedding blogs, and was clearly invented by a very clever wedding photographer. For all you wedding vocab newbies it just means, does the couple see each other before the ceremony, or do you wait until the traditional “walking down the aisle” moment.

There are a lot of reasons to do a first look- many of them are logistical: You’ll have more time to enjoy your cocktail hour if you get photos done, your hair and makeup will look most fresh, the sun is setting early…but it also can ease nerves and create a more relaxed atmosphere on the day for the wedding party and family. All that being said, we TOTALLY get why you would want to wait until the ceremony to have that special moment and there are great reasons to go the more traditional route as well.

But if you read our blog, then you know we like to go straight to the horses mouth for opinions. We asked a few of PTC’s newlyweds to share their experiences on why they did or didn’t do a first look, and how it worked for them. We decided to break the post into two parts because the answers we got from our couples are really awesome and thoughtful (we seriously have the BEST clients). So here are a few couples who decided TO LOOK…


Why did you decide to do a first look? Was it advised by friends or your photographer? Where did you get the idea?

“Sheldon and I didn’t want to do a first look because we thought they were cheesy, but we knew we wanted to see each other before the ceremony, so we kinda had to do a first look.  We just told Brittany (from BKM) that we wanted something simple – no letter reading and crying or holding hands around corners – and she made it as not cheesy as possible.”  – Sheldon and Marian

“I’d seen it all over the blogs and Pinterest and it looked genius! We knew a big priority for us would be maximizing time to socialize because a lot of family was coming from afar. Seeing a timeline with a first look and one without, I knew it could be done well either way but we really wanted to enjoy cocktail hour and our own personal timeline was a little compact due to having 8 hours with the photographer and a mandated early end to music since it was outdoors.” – Kristine and Ben

“Our photographer recommended that we do a first look. Winter wedding steal a bit of sunlight from your evening. In order to get some golden hour photos, we had to get our bridal party photos done before our ceremony.” – Whitney and Luke

How did you feel during your first look?

“I cried with a tear in my eye… I had never seen her dress on her… so it was quite amazing.” – Anonymous

“Super excited!!” – Marian and Sheldon

“Great! We agreed to read each others vows as well during that time so it was still a really special moment. It was kind of funny because both our parents were at the bottom of the hill taking pictures of the whole thing, but it definitely calmed our nerves, and worked out really well.” – Kristine and Ben

“I felt like there were a few too many eyes on us for it to be a special moment. I could also tell that my groom, Luke, wasn’t comfortable, so a lot of our moments felt a bit forced. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to see him and to decompress before the ceremony, but it certainly wasn’t intimate like you imagine.” – Whitney and Luke

How did doing the first look affect your feelings when you saw each other walking down the aisle?

“It didn’t change it one way or another.. she was still beautiful in her dress and i had never seen a more beautiful dress on a beautiful woman.”  – Anonymous

“It definitely put me more at ease. I was having gnarly anxiety about everyone else staring at me walking down the aisle. It would have been way worse if I was still anticipating seeing Sheldon for the first time.” – Marian and Sheldon

“It didn’t seem to lessen the emotion at all. I think it definitely think it made me less anxious/nervous down the aisle. Ben seemed fine by it either way.”  – Kristine and Ben

“I was certainly more calm walking down the aisle and neither of us lost our composure and blubbered like babies, although I thought that was for sure going to be the case. My nerves were still a mess because I was worried about blowing my lines during the vows or doing something wrong in the church. Without a first look, I would have been a blubbering fool.” – Whitney and Luke

Do you feel that doing a first look helped your day logistically? Did you feel more or less stressed about time?

“I don’t think it helped logistically.  I don’t remember much during that day but I can tell you if we didn’t do it and capture that moment I would have regretted it.”  – Anonymous

“I think it gave us more time because we did all our family and bridal party photos right after the first look so we were able to enjoy cocktail hour instead of taking pictures.  It did push up the getting ready time though.” – Marian and Sheldon

“Yes a thousand times. We were way less stressed knowing that all the photo obligations were pretty much squared away by the ceremony. We are both not natural photo takers/posers so knowing that was all done made it way more relaxing (though Kelly our photographer really did make the pre-ceremony photos as organic and stress-free as can be).”  – Kristine and Ben

“It absolutely helped. We were able to spend time at sunset, just the two of us, and that was such a huge priority over a traditional timeline. Stress was lower than expected. It was nice to have our bridal party relaxed and chatting before we headed to the church.”  – Whitney and Luke

If you were to get married again(to each other, of course!), would you do a first look?

“YES!” – Amity and Minh

“For sure – no regrets.” – Marian and Sheldon

“Yes. I asked Ben if he regretted or wished we hadn’t and he just looked at me as if to say: ‘I have not thought twice about the decision for a first look prior to, during, or after the wedding.’ and  ‘Is this a trick question?'” – Kristine and Ben

“In our particular circumstance, 1000 times yes. It was exactly what we needed to get the photos that were so important to us. Luke was very much against it, so I’d perhaps rethink being so pushy about him agreeing to it, but I’d still go for the first look.” – Whitney and Luke


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