The First Look: Pros, Cons, & Flowcharts

Bride looks down and smiles.

Should I have a first look?

This is a question that almost every bride asks themselves. For some couples, it is an easy choice. For others, it is one of the hardest decisions about their wedding day.

If you are wrestling with this question, this post will walks through the pros and cons of a first look versus a traditional wedding day. Hopefully, it will help you decide whether or not a first look is for you. If you are still undecided, I have made a flowchart to help. When in doubt, follow a flowchart.


The Bride, Groom, and Wedding Party can take most or all of the portraits before the wedding starts. You would spend the morning or afternoon taking pictures, so you would not have to worry about squeezing the mall into a small amount of time after the ceremony.

There is no need to have a social hour. After your exit from the ceremony, you can relax with your new spouse and reenter the room whenever you please.

It can be very intimate for the bride and groom. The first look is usually very secluded and allows for very sweet and heartfelt portraits. You can even ask the photographer/videographer to only stay for a few minutes, and then you and your honey can spend a few minutes alone.


You will have to break wedding tradition. It is customary that the bride and groom do not see each other until the bride walks down the aisle. If you do a first look, you have to see each other before the wedding.

The morning may need to start earlier. Hair, makeup, etc. must all be completed at an earlier hour, so pictures can begin. This also means you might have to wake up earlier (if you actually slept that night).

It may not be possible if you are planning a morning or early afternoon wedding. You may not have enough time for all of the portraits needed before the ceremony begins.


You get to participate in a sweet tradition. By not having a first look, you will not see your spouse until the ceremony starts. In essence, the first look is when the bride walks down the aisle. It is a cherished moment between the bride and groom as they are about to devote their lives to one another.

The wedding day does not have to start as early. If you do not have to take all of your portraits before the wedding, you and your wedding party do not have to be ready so early in the day.


You cannot have all of your pictures done before the wedding starts. Pictures with the bridal and grooms party can be taken beforehand. Even some of the family shots can be taken. However, any pictures in which the bride and groom are both present will have to wait until after the ceremony. This will lengthen the time your guests must wait for you to reenter the room.

The time taken for the portraits may be shorter, so you may not get as many poses, pictures, or good lighting.If you have a large wedding party or family,there may not be enough time to get group and individual shots before the cocktail hour ends.Furthermore, if your wedding is at night, your wedding portraits will be potentially be darker and may not turn out as clear as daytime portraits, depending on your photographer.

As promised, here is a lovely flowchart (made by yours truly)if you are still confused.

First Look Flowchart

Interested in how to plan the entire wedding day based on this decision? Check out this post: Planning Your Wedding Timeline


Ready for More Resources Like First Look Pros and Cons?

Check out my “For Brides” Category for all of my wedding tips!



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