5 Reasons To Do a First Look at Your Wedding

The first time a bride and groom see each other is always magical and emotional. Most associate this initial locking of eyes as something that occurs when the bride walks down the aisle. But with this new trend, couples are seeing each other well before the ceremony with a carefully planned “First Look.” A first look (herein referred to as “FS”) or “Reveal” is when the photographer brings the bride and groom to a private location for an intimate meeting before the ceremony. The groom is usually placed in the location with his back turned. Then, the bride enters and taps him on the shoulder or calls to him. The photographer is there to capture the initial reaction on film in an very non-intrusive way. The result is stunning. The FS is gaining in popularity and about 30-40% of my couples are opting to do a FS instead of waiting to see each other at the ceremony. Here are a few reasons why you should consider doing a FS at your wedding.

1. It’s a Strange Tradition Anyway

The tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony dates back centuries. In ancient times,¬†love did not enter into the equation as¬†virtually all weddings were arranged. Fathers literally gave their daughters away to their new husbands (wives were property back then). The veil’s purpose? To cover the bride’s face so the groom was prevented from seeing the bride until the marriage was final. They wanted to make sure there was no backing out! Since I’m guessing you already know you want to marry your love, the element of surprise at the altar is not so critical. You’ll still be plenty surprised when you see each other at the FS. This is one tradition I’m okay with foregoing.

2. A Truly Private Moment

The FS allows you and your love to have a special moment with just the two of you. Alone. Looking at each other on what is arguably, one of the most significant moments of your life. The day really does fly by. The minute the ceremony is done, it can feel like a blur. Having a FS is all about two people in love seeing each other for the first time in a private setting. It allows you to feel all those emotions alone, together. You can cry if you need to (and still have time for a makeup touch up), hug, kiss, and talk all while a photographer respectfully captures your meeting on camera.

3. No Wrangling!

One of the more challenging parts of my job is wrangling family members for photos. As soon as the ceremony is done, people are ready to party and celebrate. When you do a FS, all your family and wedding party photos can be done before the ceremony allowing everyone to just be a guest and enjoy the minute the ceremony is done. Another plus is makeup and outfits are fresh and your photographer doesn’t have to rush the photos.

4. You Get to Drink

The cocktail hour is fun. It’s the time when guests chat and mingle often having not seen each other since in years. It’s kind of sad when the guests of honor to miss the entire thing! We’ve just gotten used to the fact that the bride and groom typically miss the cocktail hour, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Do all your photos before the ceremony, and you too can join your guests for a drink during cocktail hour!

5. Less Stress

Part of my whole purpose of creating On the Bride’s Side was to reduce stress for my lovely brides. I can tell you that I’ve seen a significant difference between those who choose to do a FS and those who don’t. Once you see your love, all those nerves melt away and the rest of the day is less stressful. By the time you walk down the aisle, you’ve probably spent years together with your honey. For many, spending hours apart without communication, sharing opinions, and emotions feels weird. Reducing this time apart and sharing more of the day together is a happy side effect of the FS.

Other Things to Consider

In fairness, there are a few cons to a FS that I do feel you should know about before making your decision. First, you’ll need to do hair and makeup earlier in the day. For some this doesn’t matter, for others, they’ll want the makeup/hair person there a bit longer to do touch up before the ceremony. Second, you’ll likely need your photographer for more total hours. Considering that a good photographer is expensive, this can definitely add cost to your total budget (but on the plus side, photographers LOVE first looks!). Third, you’ll have to deal with your family members missing the first look. I don’t think the 3rd con is that big of a deal, because the ceremony is still extremely special, but there will always be the mother of the bride who feels cheated. Now, I did not do a FS for my own wedding. In fact, I didn’t even know a FS existed when I got married. I stuck with tradition and did not see my hubby until the ceremony. And you know what? I was a complete stress case until the ceremony was over! I know it would have been different if I could have seen him before hand.

Need more convincing? Take a look at these fabulous photos by my colleague, Mike of Mike Arick Wedding Photography.

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Did you do a first look at your wedding? What was your experience? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.


Happy Planning!


All photos by Mike Arick Photography