Spotlight: The First Look Dilemma

Evaluating the pros and cons of this trendy wedding tradition
Written by
Laura Cross

The "first look" in the context of a wedding refers to a pre-arranged, private moment between the couple before the actual ceremony begins. During the "first look," the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day, often in their wedding attire, away from the eyes of the guests. The intimate encounter is typically orchestrated by the wedding photographer to capture the genuine emotions and reactions of the couple. Couples opting for a "first look" often weigh the desire for a special, personal moment against the traditional custom of seeing each other for the first time at the altar during the ceremony.

Navigating the intricate decisions of a wedding day involves careful consideration of traditions, emotions and logistical choices. Among these considerations, the "first look" has emerged as a pivotal moment for couples about to be married. This pre-ceremony encounter brings forth a myriad of perspectives. While some couples swear by the magic of this intimate encounter, others remain committed to the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the altar. In this Spotlight feature, two wedding experts weigh in on the pros and cons of opting for a first look on your wedding day – shedding light on the nuanced factors that contribute to creating a memorable and meaningful wedding experience.

Olivia Simon, Liv + Remember

Relax & Enjoy — Wedding day jitters and excited nerves are absolutely real! Sharing laughs, hugs, and chats before exchanging "I do's" with your favorite person often helps calm those nerves and creates a more relaxed day for everyone. I often hear many couples say, 'Ahh, now I feel so much better — I'm so glad we did that,' after their first look.

More Time Together (& with Guests) — You've probably heard this a million times, but it's so true — your wedding day truly flies by. With a first look, couples get to see each other earlier in the day, which means more shared special moments! This also often means more time to spend with guests, like joining the cocktail hour because you've already wrapped up most of the formal photos before the ceremony. 

Fun Guest Experience — While the day revolves around the couple, it's also about providing a fun, memorable experience for your favorite people. By not having to disappear for hours between the ceremony and reception for photos, the party can keep going, and the bride and groom can mingle with all their guests — after all, they're there to celebrate you!

Liv + Remember
Liv + Remember

Ryann Lindsey, Ryann Lindsey Photography

The tradition of waiting to see each other till the ceremony, what once was very common, has begun to fade away. With the increase in the concept of a first look, the pros often outweigh the cons. The most common answer I hear is that the bride wants the first look at the altar because they have the assumption it will be a "cinematic" moment. 

Often, those couples who have changed their minds and do a first look say that it was the best decision they have made. Below I have listed a few of my personal opinions of pros and cons. 


  • You allow yourself as a couple a chance to spend the day together. 
  • You are spending a lot on your venue! By doing a first look, you are able to optimize the use of the venue and get the most magical portraits. 
  • You can complete all or the bulk majority of your family and bridal party photos before the ceremony, which allows you more freedom after the ceremony to enjoy your cocktail hour and guests. 
  • The BUTTERFLIES can calm your wings! Often couples carry anxious feelings about seeing each other and their guests. By seeing each other earlier, you combat that anxiety and allow yourself to more freely experience your wedding day together.
  • You can make a first look extra special by allowing a private moment to share private vows, a favorite cocktail, or another experience that can enhance your wedding day.
  • Some people show more emotion in private. Having a first looks allows you a chance to experience this moment to the fullest. 
  • You don't have to spend the day avoiding each other. This allows us to pick better spots for portraits together and with your bridal party. 
  • You feel less time-sensitive throughout the day. Often times, when you don't do a first look you have to sacrifice some family photos or something else in order to get your couples photos before the sun goes down.
  • I have never had a couple REGRET doing a first look! 


  • NONE. In my opinion there are really no cons to doing a first look. However, I want to add that if the reason my couples are not seeing each other is due to religious reasons or by personal choice, I fully support their decision as it is their wedding day and they have the right to choose what is right for them.

Ryann Lindsey Photography
Ryann Lindsey Photography