Pros & Cons of a First Look

Let's talk about first looks! Regardless of whether you prefer a first look or want to save that moment for walking down the aisle, seeing your future husband for the first time on your big day will be the most magical moment. There are certainly pros and cons for both options, so it's imperative to know which option suites you best as a couple! There truly is no cookie cutter answer that will suite every couple, so it's best to consider all the reasons for both!

So first, if you'd rather listen to a bride talk about her experience of a first look, I highly recommend this video:

THE PROS From a practical standpoint, there are SO many positives to doing a first look:

  • You will easily have more photos to choose from.

  • The picture quality will more than likely turn out way better because your hair and makeup will be fresher and you'll have more time and flexibility to get the shots you want.

  • One of the biggest pros is that it cuts down on the time guests have to wait after the ceremony and before reception (cocktail hour).

  • For budget conscious brides, this also cuts down on food and beverages that would need to be served to keep guests entertained for 45 mins to 1.5 hours, serving light refreshments instead of full on appetizers.

  • Getting photos done early and out of the way will make your day so much less stressful.

  • If it were to rain later in the day, an early first look built in could literally SAVE your photos.

  • With a first look, you could spend several more hours going to different locations for amazing pictures if you desired.

  • After the ceremony, you won't have to round up people for rushed photos.

  • If you still want a cocktail hour, you can enjoy it with your guests or just spend some alone time together.

  • In the rare case your photographer misses yours or his reaction of your walk down the aisle, or if the photo doesn't turn out the way you had envisioned, you'll at least have amazing first look photos because there's no one else there to get in the way!

  • You get to spend additional blocked out time with your husband on your wedding day, which more than likely will be the ONLY real moment you get to be alone together.

  • It can be so much more genuine and emotional than the walk down the aisle if either of you will be nervous being the center-of-attention or if your future husband feels pressured to react a certain way.

  • Also, if you're a crier and don't want people to see it, you can get some of those tears out of the way before the ceremony, and still have enough time to touch up your make up!

Though I personally didn't do a first look, most brides say it's an absolutely amazing experience! When asked this question, one bride said, "Think about it--with the walk down the aisle, you probably can't see each other very well at first. All eyes are on you, there's so much to try to take in, you're holding back your emotions instead of really experiencing it, and you get to the end of the aisle and just have to stand there and do the ceremony. With a first look, it's just the two of you and you can laugh and cry and talk and kiss and just SOAK IT ALL IN! It's truly an amazing, beautiful moment."


  • It's not traditional (if that really matters to you, don't try and be persuaded!)

  • If you're wanting EVERYONE to see your future husband's reaction as he sees how beautiful you look walking down the aisle, this option will remove the genuine surprise. But, depending on your future husband's personality, he certainly could still cry regardless because it's still a very emotional moment, just like Jamie's husband did in the video!

  • If you're having an early timeframe for your ceremony, like an 11am-12pm ceremony, this would require you waking up at an ungodly hour to get ready!

  • If you're having a later ceremony, the sun may be super harsh during the time you would need to take your first look photos.

But of course, the biggest concern is: Does it take away from the experience? The simple answer is, it definitely could — though many brides who have done first looks have said IT DID NOT! It truly just depends on your personality and what you find most important.

Another bride who did a first look said, "It doesn't take away from the walk down the aisle at all! I've never understood why people think this—it's two completely separate unique experiences. It's like saying "I don't want to hire a videographer because it will make my wedding pictures less important." Um, no it won't! They're two completely different ways of capturing the memories. Don't worry, the walk down the aisle will always be magical. Personally, I think the walk down the aisle was even better after having seen him already! Definitely do one, you won't regret it!

Another bride said, "I’ve never heard a bride who’s done a first look disappointed with her husband’s reaction down the aisle! His first look reaction is different than the down the aisle reaction! You just have two memories not one!"

Though many brides do feel this way, I do have a close friend who regretted having a first look. It really just depends on your personality and what you have envisioned. If you have always pictured yourself walking down the aisle in the traditional sense, without him seeing you until that moment, then I would honestly consider just sticking to your gut. My friend said she didn't want one, but was convinced to do it because of the additional photos, and instantly regretted it saying "Well, he's already seen me. Now it won't be as special."


Decide if both you and your fiancé would be fine with a less traditional route. Consider how long you'll have with your photographer, realistically decide if you will have enough time built in to get all the photos you want without a first look. Look at your timeline schedule and see how early you would have to wake up to be ready to get first look photos.

I love how Jamie addressed that there is truly NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL. This is a deeply personal decision that only you and your fiancé have to come to an agreement on. Don't let anyone persuade you to do something that you are not comfortable doing! Hopefully this comprehensive list has helped you have clarity on which direction is best for you!

Photography: Jessica Burke

Last thing, there's no need to add unnecessary costs to your wedding budget!

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Hi, I'm Hannah! I'm the writer & designer behind Rosewood & Olive! I create wedding templates, custom pencil portraits, and write about all things wedding related! Thanks for stopping by!

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