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To First Look or Not to First Look? That is the Wedding Question

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To First Look or Not to First Look? That is the Wedding Question
Image source: Inspired By Dis; Photographer: Jim Kennedy Photographers

Today we are focusing on the wedding question that never used to exist. Tradition teaches us that it is bad luck for a groom to see his bride before she walks down the aisle. But weddings have changed and modern couples have more important things to worry about now, like what will the bride’s third reception dress look like and who will inflate these Geronimo balloons? So the decision most couples now have to make is, will we have a first look or not?

In case you’re not familiar with this somewhat new wedding term, a first look is when the wedding couple sees each other in their dress/suit/tux for the first time on their wedding day, but before the ceremony. Usually the groom stands in one spot while the bride comes up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. He turns around and … tada! There’s a beautiful bride standing there! For my first look with Mr. BFT, I was the one standing still while he came up behind me, simply because I wanted to do something a little bit different. I’ve seen couples standing back-to-back (after having been led to that spot by a helpful friend) and then they turn around at the same time. Usually the first look is captured by the wedding photographer and/or videographer and it’s a special little moment between the couple. Awww.

Wedding Day - Reverse First Look
Our first look. Photo by Root Photography. How adorable is my husband?!?

There are a lot of benefits to a first look. The main one for us was time. We wanted to get our couples and family pictures done before the ceremony so we could have more time to enjoy our pre-reception and reception with our guests. We also aren’t big on wedding traditions – we stayed in the same hotel room the night before the wedding, bummed around with each other the morning of the wedding, and Mr. BFT had already seen my dress (and I picked out his suit)! So, waiting to see each other until the ceremony just wasn’t a big deal to us.

Some couples are more traditional and it’s very important to them to wait and see each other for the first time at the ceremony. It’s a very exciting moment and I understand why it’s so special. If you don’t want to see your partner until the ceremony, you can consider an “almost first look” where you and your partner can talk to each other between a door or some other divider, so you can’t see each other but your photographer can capture photos of the two of you. I’ve seen almost first looks where couples exchanged love letters or gifts, held hands, or simply talked with each other about how happy they were to be getting married in a couple hours! All of it is adorable.

I asked via Facebook what was YOUR opinion on the first look trend, and here’s what you had to say!

First, the PRO first look crowd:

Courtney: We’re doing a first look. Mostly because I wanted pictures done before the wedding so we can enjoy the cocktail hour with our guests. I’m excited for the pictures/video of our first look.

Becca: As a photographer I love when couples do first looks. It allows me to capture both the bride and the groom’s emotions when they first see each other. If they don’t see each other until she is walking down the aisle, it is hard for the photographer to capture the groom’s expression.

Sarah: For us, we did a first look. It was more important to get pictures done early, so we would not leave our guests waiting after the ceremony. It also made me feel better that I got to see my hubby before the ceremony as it was a more private moment for us. We were able to talk and share the entire process together.

Charlene: We definitely knew we HAD to do a first look! I wanted our first look to be personal and not with everyone watching. It was about just us two and it didn’t make the ceremony any different. I cried during the first look and ceremony, plus we were able to take so many pics of just us two.

Jessica: I am the rebel! I LOVED doing the first look. I was really hesitant about doing it and sticking with tradition, but then I didn’t want to get “ugly cry” pictures of me walking down the aisle. So I said let me do first look and get the tears out before the ceremony. It was such a beautiful time!! It was the only intimate time that we had together that whole day and our photographer got to capture that moment. I totally cried, but it was sweetly captured. We got to hug and hold each other. I did refuse to kiss though (as hard as it was) because I wanted to save that first kiss of the day for when we were officially announced.
I thought some of the emotional part of walking down the aisle would be gone, but alas I still got emotional when I did walk down the aisle, so I don’t feel like it took anything away from that moment. I still cried as soon as the doors opened for me to walk. I actually pulled back to not walk down the aisle because I was so filled with emotions I thought I was gonna lose it immediately. Luckily my mom pulled me forward to remind me this wasn’t rehearsal, lol. The day flew by and there was so much mingling and events throughout the day that I felt between the first dance and our first look shoot, those were the only times that we had intimately with each other on our special day.

Faith: For us, if wasn’t even a question. We got married in December and the lighting after our wedding wasn’t conducive for pictures. So we did a first look & all our formal shots before the wedding. I LOVED IT. I missed seeing him all day & seeing him before the wedding calmed my nerves allowing me to get all the tears out BEFORE the ceremony leaving me to enjoy the wedding without being a blubbering mess, lol.

Eden: First look. It’s your day and by scheduling a first look, you’re able to have quiet time where you calm your nerves and enjoy the moment. The rest of the celebration it will be difficult to find time where just the two of you can be alone.

Christine: I loved our first look. Not only do you get to capture the first reaction, but also the first interactions with each other in full wedding attire. You wouldn’t get that just walking down the aisle. The grand entrance into the ceremony is also shared with all your guests seeing you for the first time. Both are special in their own way.

Renee: Our first look was amazing. It was special and emotional and beautiful. Hours later, when I walked down the aisle I was happy and relaxed. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

Melanie: Yes to the first look. I liked how we were able to get a whole bunch of beautiful pictures before ceremony. I loved the looks in my boys faces and we had time to spend together and admire.

Chrysty: First look! Those quiet moments alone together before the ceremony help calm the nerves and you’re not on the spot in front of everyone. Plus, I’m an ugly crier, so it helped me get that out of the way first, haha.

Hallie: We did a first look and it was so amazing. The moment is just for you two to share, the reaction pictures are awesome, and my groom still cried when he saw me as my father brought me down the aisle so it was two amazing reactions/reveals to be a part of. We also had much more time to spend with our guests as we did all group shots, family pictures, before hand. I don’t regret our decision at all!

Rosaura: I loved it!! It allowed us to have more time at our reception with our guests without that awkward hour plus of guests waiting while the wedding party takes pictures. Also — it allowed for one of my favorite moments of the wedding day when we spent a half hour with our wedding party in the aquarium petting sea animals waiting for the wedding to start & hiding from the wedding guests!

To First Look or Not to First Look? That is the Wedding Question
The sweet reaction of a First Look. Photo by White Rabbit Photo Boutique

And then the more traditional brides:

Carrie: It was never a question with us to do a first look. We opted not too because we wanted to follow as many traditions that we were able too given our situation. Besides if we had a first look my make up would’ve been ruined. lol! With that said, I believe there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Anita: No first look. I’m a traditionalist! I think the bride and groom shouldn’t see each other till the walk down the aisle.

Kristina: No first look. We got married in Walt Disney World in Florida and chose not to do a first look. I wanted my groom to live the anticipation of what I would look like up until that moment the doors of the wedding pavilion opened. He was so in the moment.

Brittney: No first look. I’ve always dreamed of him seeing me for the first time when the doors open and I walk down the aisle. We are going to do pictures together after our reception and I feel like we can have more fun at that point as the nerves will be gone.

Mary: I’m for no look, I might even sleep separately from my groom the night before and have him not see me til I walk down the aisle!

Lisa: We won’t be doing a first look with each other, but I will as a bride do a first look with my father and grandfather. I want as many emotions as possible when I walk down the aisle to him, I like the idea of tradition and I will request my photographer to get his reaction when he first sees me.

I love Lisa’s idea of doing a first look with her father!

Now it’s your turn to chime in in the comments … first look or no first look? There’s no right or wrong answer here, and either way, I’d love to hear why doing a first look OR waiting for the alter is important to you!

About Mindy

Mindy Marzec is a life-long Disney fan who grew up in Los Angeles. She started This Fairy Tale Life to share Disneyland travel tips for adults. When not at Disneyland, you can find Mindy at home snuggling with her cats and re-watching Thor: Ragnarok for the billionth time.