The Pros and Cons of Having a First Look | Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer

September 29, 2017

The moment you see your future husband or wife for the first time, all dressed up is special.  Some couples are choosing to have this moment before they walk down the aisle while others choose the more traditional route and wait until the ceremony to see each other.  There’s certainly no right or wrong choice, but here are a few pros and cons to consider when making your decision.


It will help with those wedding day jitters.  

A lot of people might think that having a first look will ruin the excitement and joy of seeing each other for the first time.  On the contrary, you still experience all those same feelings; just at a different time of the day.  A first look helps to get rid of some of those butterflies in your belly and makes you calmer so you can focus more on your walk down the aisle.

Get the photos out of the way before the ceremony.

Having a first look will allow you to get most, if not all of, the portraits out of the way before tying the knot.  This way, you can attend cocktail hour and mingle with your guests.  Couples who wait until after the ceremony may feel rushed and not be able to spend as much time visiting their guests.  

You’ll feel less rushed.

Wedding photos with the couple, wedding party and family will take up a good chunk of time – probably more than you think!  Your photographer will probably suggest somewhere between 1.5-2 hours for all of the photos.  Add in any travel to photo spots, and it’s hard to fit that all in during a short cocktail hour.  Rushing around can be stressful, and that’s not how you want to feel on your wedding day.

Just the two of you, in an intimate moment.

When you walk down the aisle, it’s not just your significant other that’s seeing you for the first time…it’s all of your guests too.   A first look will capture more raw emotion.  It’s not always easy to capture these shots during the ceremony because there’s lots of people around.  Also, your wedding day is going to be a complete whirlwind and you’ll feel as if you’re being pulled in a million different directions.  The first look is an opportunity to have a few quiet moments together.

Awesome Photos.

There are many fun options for seeing each other for the first time, from having him blindfolded, sneak up behind him and tapping hi on the back or holding hands on opposite sides of a door.  Nothing beats the photo of someone seeing their soon-to-be-hubby or wife for the first time!


You’ll have to be ready earlier.

In order to take photos before the ceremony, you’ll need to push up your wedding day timeline a bit.  If you were planning on sleeping in a bit and lounging around with your bridesmaids, you may want to skip the first look.  Additionally, since you’ll be ready so early, your makeup, hair and clothing may need a refresh before the ceremony.  It’s not really a big deal…just have a compact and lipstick handy.

Bad luck superstitions.

Personally, I think this is a bunch of BS.  But some people believe in tradition where the groom shouldn’t see the bride until she walks down the aisle.  If you think that having a first look will send lots of bad juju your way, then it may not be for you.

Flowers can take a beating.

Boutonnieres can get smashed while snuggling up for pictures and the hot sun can take it’s toll on your bouquet, especially for flowers that need lots of water, such as hydrangeas.

The photos are less authentic.

In a way, by doing a first look, you’re staging a moment to see each other for the first time, and it could influence the way you react, instead of showing your real emotions.  Emotions are pure and raw when you see each other at opposite ends of the aisle.

One last bit of advice:

If you do decide to do a first look, limit it to just a few people.  Ideally, just you, your significant other and the photographer(s), but it can be helpful to have one of your bridesmaids there to carry your train or bouquet.  Too many people in attendance can really alter the emotion and authenticity of the moment if you have a huge audience, and it makes the “just us” moment a little less special.

Tara Petro | Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer

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