pros and cons of a wedding first look

Photography Tips, Wedding Planning

September 20, 2021

Pros and Cons of a Wedding First Look

If you’re in the throws of planning your “I Dos,” then a wedding first look is probably something that has crossed your mind. Deciding whether or not to see your partner before the ceremony can feel like a monumental decision. It can affect the wedding photography timeline, your emotions during the ceremony, your guests’ experience, and even how the photos turn out. (No pressure.)

As experienced Houston wedding photographers, we’ve seen it all, and we’re here to tell you that there’s no right answer. The best thing you can do is learn about the pros and cons and make an informed decision. We’re going to break down all the upsides and downsides of a wedding first look so you know all the possible benefits and hiccups that might occur either way.

Pros of a Wedding First Look

Let’s look at the positives! Doing a first look has a lot of them, so let’s get to it.

1. Be Less Nervous for the Ceremony

For a lot of couples, the wedding ceremony can bring on a lot of nerves. Not so much about marrying the person you love – more about doing so in front of alllll those people. If you’re an anxious bride or groom, seeing each other before the wedding ceremony may help calm a lot of those nerves. After all, who better than your favorite person to ease your anxiety and give you a little shot of dopamine before the biggest moment of your life?

2. Capture More Emotion

It may be hard for some people to show their emotions in front of an entire room of family, friends, and strangers. Doing a wedding day first look gives you and your partner the chance to express yourselves however you feel comfortable without everyone gawking. If we sifted through all of the weddings we’ve shot over the years, there would be a strong correlation between couples who did a first look, and Grooms who cried when they saw their wife for the first time.

3. Receive Better Photos

Let’s be blunt for a moment. Not all churches or wedding ceremony venues have great lighting. In fact, some of them are downright terrible. And while our years of experience as Houston wedding photographers have equipped us well for these cruddy lighting situations, nothing beats good natural light. When you do a wedding first look, we can make sure you’re set up in the best light with a gorgeous background. We’ll be free to move around and get different angles while the moment unfolds, so you don’t have to worry about Uncle Rick’s iPad ruining the shot as you walk down the aisle. These will be moments you’ll want to print and frame, instead of something that gets forgotten about in a Facebook album.

4. Protect Your Hair & Makeup

This may sound shallow, but it’s true. You’re going to spend good money having your hair and makeup professionally done, and we want to show that off in all your photos. When you choose to see each other before the wedding, we’re taking photos of you at your very best. Your hair and makeup are as fresh as possible, and if you do end up crying, there’s time to fix it before the ceremony.

5. Spend Some Time Alone

I’m sure you’ll have a lot of things to say to your partner when you see them for the first time on your wedding day. It’s such a special moment! If you schedule a wedding first look, you’ll actually have the chance to say those things. You’ll be able to talk, hold hands, hug, and laugh with the person you love. This is an oft-overlooked reason to see each other before the wedding, but we definitely think it’s worth considering.

6. Get to the Party Sooner

In most cases, a first look helps the entire wedding photography timeline move a little smoother. If you can get some of the portraits done before the ceremony, you’ll have fewer photos you need to take afterward (if any at all!). This means you can take some time to rest and reset before the reception, drop into your cocktail hour to mingle with guests, or even start the reception sooner. Remember that your guests are probably hungry and ready to get seated.

Cons of a Wedding First Look

Okay okay, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Doing a first look has a few downsides, which we’ll cover here.

1. Go Against Tradition

Wedding traditions and trends change all the time, but this idea that a bride and groom shouldn’t see each other before the wedding has stuck around for ages. If you’re superstitious or just plain traditional, then it might be best to wait until the ceremony to see each other.

2. Risk Nosy Guests

Some friends or family members may feel entitled to be a part of this moment between you and your partner. By doing a wedding first look, you’re intentionally leaving them out. If that doesn’t bother you, it surely doesn’t bother us. But fair warning, we’ve seen a few weddings where these guests invite themselves to the first look as well. If this is something you’re concerned about (after all, you know your family best!), we can help you plan the first look in a more private location.

3. Force a Reaction

When you know your reaction is being captured for eternity, it may put pressure on you to feel like you have to react a certain way. There’s a chance this could result in stiff body language or over-exaggerated facial expressions. Have a talk with your partner before the big day about how you imagine it will be, seeing each other before the wedding. On our end, we’ll do our best to stay back and give you lots of space to speak, feel, and express naturally.

4. Wake Ready Earlier

Wedding days are notoriously long. If you’re planning a first look and want to knock out all of your portraits before the ceremony, it means you’ll need to be ready earlier in the day. This ultimately means an earlier rise time and less sleep (although who’s really sleeping in on their wedding day anyway?). On the plus side, if you decide to do a first look and things start running behind on the front end, we can always move some of the portraits to after the ceremony. It’s nice to have that built-in buffer for our wedding photography timeline!

What Will You Decide?

Even with all the cons, a first look is still something we recommend for the majority of our couples. That said, no judgment if you decide not to do one. A newer trend we’re seeing on wedding days is the “first touch.” This is where the couple holds hands around a corner or a door so they can have that special moment together to chat without seeing each other before the wedding. This is a great way to compromise and ease your nerves, and can result in some seriously cute photos!

Whatever you decide, we’re here for you if you need a pair of talented Houston wedding photographers to capture the moment… wherever it takes place.

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