Should I do First Look? The good and the bad

What is First Look?

You heard about “First Look” from your friends, from your photographers, or read it online. For anyone who comes across this article and has no idea what this is, it is when the groom first sees the bride BEFORE the ceremony. How is it done? Usually, the groom waits somewhere and the bride approaches him from behind, taps on his shoulder (like the photo below), the groom turns back and sees the bride for the first time. That simple!

why i should do first look
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Now, you are wondering if you should do it. Instead of talking you into a particular direction, we want to give you an overall understanding of it, pros and cons. We will tell you about our real experiences and our advice so that you can make a good decision.


Pros of First Look:

  • You have the time for portrait prior to the ceremony. After the ceremony, time might be too short for portrait, or it might get dark, or you prefer to mingle with your guests during cocktail hours.
  • When your portraits are finished early, it takes a huge amount of pressure off. The rest of the day … what can I say: PARTY!!!
  • It is your intimate private moment. Sometimes, it is easy to express your true emotion when there is no one watching you. This is why First Look lets you be yourselves and focus on your significant other and no one else.

should i do first look
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Cons of First Look:

  • You might feel awkward when you know there are cameras pointing at you and First Look breaks that magical moment.
  • The groom might be under pressure when he thinks everyone expects him to be surprised or to be emotional.
  • It breaks tradition and the magical moment when the bride walks down the aisle. Some couples are serious about tradition and consider seeing each other before the ceremony is bad luck.


Our experience:

  • We’ve done hundreds of First Look. Not all are great. It means there are times when the couples saw each other and didn’t express any different emotion. Then, they turned to us and asked what they should do next … in less than 15s.
  • For some couples, their reactions were so emotional. Then, they were still till the ceremony, when the bride walked down the aisle. We think that seeing the bride during First Look is different than seeing her slowly walking down the aisle. They are two different moments and can lead to different emotions. I remember Kristina & Mark, one of my couples, said this to each other during their First Look: “I’m glad we did this! – Yes! Me too!”


Our advice:

Many couples whom we met asked us whether or not they should do First Look at the very 1st meeting. Instead of telling them YES or NO, I ask them:

  • “How much time do you have for the cocktail hours?” and “Are you planning to do lots of family photos after the ceremony?”. If the cocktail hour is less than 1 hour, or if they have a long list of family photos, I suggest they do First Look so that they can get their portraits done early.
  • “Is either of you emotional?” and “Is either of you afraid to express your emotion in front of many people?” If you say yes to either question, First Look might be a good choice for you.
  • If the tradition is so important for you, don’t do First Look. If it is not, let just have fun!
  • If you decide to do First Look, make sure that you allow enough buffer time for setup to avoid being rush or delay.
  • If you want to do First Look but try to keep the tradition at the same time, check out First Look alternative. It’s getting more popular now.

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