Pros + Cons of a First Look


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First looks have been a wedding trend for quite a while now, with more and more couples opting to add this detail to their big day.

Some traditions say the first time a couple should see one another is when the bride makes her entrance at the end of the aisle. There are cultures and religions that have always bucked this trend, such as the Jewish practice of the couple signing the Ketubah prior to the wedding ceremony.

Not sure if you want to include a first look in your day? Read on for pros and cons so you can decide for yourself!


  • A first look lets you share your first moment together alone. There’s a lot of emotion that comes with seeing each other all dressed up, especially for grooms seeing their bride for the first time in her dress. Sharing this with only each other — and not a big crowd — adds a level of intimacy for just the two of you.
  • Seeing each other alone first can ease your nerves. Your wedding day is a big deal! Even if you’re 100% certain that you want to get married and don’t have even an inkling of cold feet, you can still be hit with a huge wave of nerves in the moment. Letting your nerves out in the first look means you can focus on your ceremony and enjoy the moment without worrying about being nervous.
  • Your hair and makeup will be in better condition earlier in the day. While your team will do everything they can to keep you looking fabulous all day, your look will be its best before you’ve walked down the aisle and maybe shed a few tears.
  • You get more time for pictures. Without a first look, you have to wait until after the ceremony to get pictures that include both of you. This isn’t just pictures of you as a couple, but also any pictures with your families where you both need to be present. Usually there isn’t a lot of time between the ceremony and your reception, so knocking these out beforehand puts less stress on you and your photographer. Not to mention, doing pictures early means…
  • You actually get to go to cocktail hour. This time is usually used to build in a time buffer for pictures. If you need to get the last few now, that’s fine, but if you have a first look, you can actually take the time to mingle with guests before the real party gets started.


  • The biggest con is breaking with tradition. As we said earlier, this doesn’t include all cultures, but for the most part, weddings in the U.S. commonly wait until the ceremony for the couple to see one another. Bucking this tradition might not sit well with your family, so depending on their involvement in your big day, it might be a conversation you need to have with them.
  • You’ll need to start your hair and makeup earlier. Depending on the time of your ceremony, this might mean you need to wake up super early on your big day. Not a morning person? Consider how a first look will alter your timeline. 
  • Likewise, a first look might mean you have to pay for more time with your photographer. Again, look at your timeline for the day and consider if you’ll need more time, which will cost more money, and see if your budget can handle it.
  • A first look can lessen the emotional impact of your grand entrance. While there’s still a lot of emotion involved in walking down the aisle, having already seen your partner earlier can certainly make for a less impactful experience. It’s up to you as a couple if you want to share this moment alone or with your friends and family. 
  • Lighting might not be ideal. Most photographers will suggest you plan your ceremony during the best lighting, so your pictures are stunning — especially if you’re having an outdoor ceremony. This means your first look may not be during the best time of day. Not a huge issue for a talented photographer, but it’s something to consider.

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Still undecided on a first look?

A new trend some couples are doing is almost a middle ground between these two options: a first touch. This is a moment before the ceremony where you and your partner don’t see one another, but you hold hands or touch in some other way so you still get to feel connected to one another prior to the ceremony. Some couples wear blindfolds and have someone guide them together, or simply reach around a corner in a predetermined spot. This is a great way to feel connected, exchange love letters, or even say a prayer together without compromising your grand entrance. Just keep in mind you may still have the time constraints of needing to be ready early and have more time with your photographer.

Skip to 5:10 for Ophelia + Scott’s blindfolded first touch!

This article was first published on Black Hills Bride during my 2019 internship.

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