As you’re beginning your wedding planning journey, one of the biggest decisions to make regarding your timeline is whether to have a first look with your partner or not. You’ll probably hear that a first look is the best option for an easier timeline or better photos. While first looks offer an amazing opportunity for some really sweet photos and more flexibility in your timeline, those things are not always everyone’s priority on their wedding day (which is TOTALLY okay!) After photographing dozens of weddings with and without first looks (and having a first look myself), I wanted to give a little bit of insight on my favorite reasons to have a first look that don’t have to do with your photos or timeline. Below are some of the biggest reasons that I think first looks are amazing, not just for your timeline, but for your entire wedding day experience as a couple. They’re also some of the most common reasons that my couples regret not doing a first look. If you’re on the fence whether or not do do a first look, keep reading!
My top reason that I love first looks is so that you can enjoy your wedding day together. Ultimately, this day is about celebrating your love and the covenant that you two are making to one another. Imagine spending 75% of your wedding day trying to avoid seeing the person you’re marrying! This isn’t as major of an issue if you’re planning a morning or midday ceremony, but if your ceremony is in the evening, you’ll only get to spend a couple of precious hours on your wedding day alongside one another. As someone who got married at 5 in the afternoon, I remember thinking before our ceremony that our wedding day had already felt like the longest day ever – and I realized that we weren’t even married yet! Then, I realized if we hadn’t done a first look, I would have spent all of that time away from my husband-to-be! Not to mention, time moves SO quickly after your ceremony. If you think you’ll get to spend time together and talk after your ceremony, think again. All of your guests and loved ones will be so thrilled to talk, hug, and congratulate you and your new spouse. While it’s such a blessing to be surrounded by so much love and encouragement from your guests after getting married, unless you plan it just right, you may not get a private opportunity to spend time together until your wedding day is already over. First looks allow you to soak in all of the sweet wedding day memories together, rather than having to fill one another in on how your individual wedding days went on the drive home.
First looks offer a beautiful opportunity to experience genuine, unfiltered emotions and authentic reactions between you and your partner. Some couples might be hesitant about having a first look because they hope to see their significant other shed tears of joy as they walk down the aisle. However, having a private moment for the first look allows for a more intimate display of deep emotions between you and your loved one, free from the pressure of being watched by a large audience during the ceremony. For many grooms, this alleviates anxiety caused by the expectations of publicly showing strong emotions when they see their bride in front of all their guests. Placing such pressure on our partners to cry in public may not be entirely fair to them.
Moreover, a first look leaves room for the “you look beautiful; I didn’t expect your dress to have sleeves!” comments and “I can’t believe it’s our wedding day; how do you feel?!” conversations. These interactions are more likely to be limited during the ceremony when you have little time for intimate exchanges.
Having photographed numerous weddings and experienced a first look myself, I can assure you that the feelings you experience during the first look and walking down the aisle are distinct yet equally filled with love and joy. Each moment holds its own uniqueness and significance, contributing to a day full of special memories. If you decide to have a first look, think of it not as taking away from the moment of walking down the aisle, but rather as an opportunity to create an additional, special moment on your wedding day.
Seeing, talking with, and embracing your favorite person will calm your nerves like nothing else. The morning of the wedding can be filled with a mix of excitement and anxiousness, and if you’re anything like me, it might feel like over-caffeinated butterflies are doing cartwheels in your stomach the morning of your wedding. On the morning of my own wedding, I was full of nerves and excitement that I couldn’t eat the beautiful breakfast my mother had prepared or put on my fake eyelashes because my hands were so shaky. After seeing my husband and getting to spend time with him, I was able to relax, enjoy the rest of our day before our ceremony, and finally scarf down a sandwich. A first look can be a wonderful way to calm your nerves, giving you the chance to fully embrace and enjoy your wedding day without the overwhelming pre-ceremony jitters. It provides a private, intimate space to connect with your partner, bringing comfort and reassurance before the momentous occasion of walking down the aisle. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for you as a couple and allowing yourselves to savor every moment of your big day.
With all of that being said, please remember that having a first look is entirely optional, and you should never feel obligated to do it if it doesn’t resonate with you. I wholeheartedly support whatever decision you make for your wedding day, and it’s crucial not to compromise your dream day vision. My goal is to ensure you feel 1000% confident in your decision, and the reasons I listed earlier are just some common reasons couples express regret for not having a first look.
If you’re set on not seeing one another until you walk down the aisle, that’s fantastic, and you should absolutely go with that choice! There are some lovely alternatives to a traditional first look that I’ve seen couples embrace, such as seeing each other early in the morning before getting into wedding attire, writing heartfelt letters to each other on the morning of the wedding, or having a first touch without actually seeing each other.
Ultimately, I am here to support you completely in upholding your wedding day vision, and I will be cheering you on no matter what your day looks like. If you ever have any questions, concerns, or thoughts regarding a first look or any other aspect of your wedding planning, I’m always here and want to be a helpful resource throughout the entire process!
Ready to chat about your wedding day vision? I would LOVE to document your special day and help in any way that I can! Reach out below and let’s be friends! I can’t wait to meet you!