::The Pros and Cons of a First Look::

Today, I bring you a guest blogger! I know you need some fresh vibes on here so let's hear from Justin Douglas Photography and his take on doing a First Look, or not. I asked a photographer to share his insights because they are the ones in the moment and are seeing the emotion. They are also the ones that are impacted if a First Look isn't done... their timeline and logistics can become challenging without a First Look. But no one should ever pressure you either way! As your wedding planner, we support either decision you make but do want to provide information so you can make the most educated decision. 

A popular question that I get as a photographer from my brides is, “Should we do a first look?”

It’s very rare these days that the recently engaged couples are unaware of what the “First Look” is but for those who don’t know; a first look is when the lovely couple sees each other before the ceremony in a private location. Of course the photographer and sometimes videographer are present in that moment to document the event!

A lot of photographers push their couples to have go for a first look but I love leaving this decision up to them because there are a lot of factors that go into making this decision.

Which do I prefer or believe is best?


It depends on your needs and wants but there really is no right or wrong way to do it! Wondering if a first look is the right choice for you? Here are some benefits and drawbacks of having a first look:


1.     You’ll get the chance to see one another and it’s only about the two of you.

With the first look happening before the ceremony, you’re able to have a special and meaningful moment between one another. You’re able to converse with one another more freely and get all your thoughts out because you’re not standing in front of a big audience. I personally LOVE this moment of the day because I’m able to capture the raw emotion and reaction the couple has towards one another.

2. Stress and any nerves tend to disappear.

I’ve worked with over 100 couples and just about all experience some form of anxiety during preparation. Being able to connect with your best friend normally dissolves all stress. This also manifests itself in the couple being able to enjoy their guests viewing them at the altar and being more present during the ceremony.

3.  You’ll have more time for photos.

A great benefit to doing the first look is that you get all of your formal portraits out the way freeing you up after the ceremony to celebrate with your guest during cocktail hour! This removes a great strain from vendors as far as logistics go, creating a smoother day. Also, in having more time for photos, more diversity in portraits (of just the two of you) is normally scheduled in!


1.     You would have to start the day a bit earlier

Doing the First Look consists of waking up a little earlier to get hair and makeup done. I’ve never seen an issue with this but if you’re not an early riser then take that into consideration. Also, you might have to retouch makeup after the first look but again I don’t necessarily see that as a negative.

2. The ceremony might feel anticlimactic.

Most women growing up have become accustomed dreaming of their groom seeing them for the first time when she’s walking down the aisle. If this is something that you dreamed about then the first look will take some of that excitement away! So if you want that big ceremony reveal, no first look.

3.  The first look could feel planned.

Take this with a grain of salt but sometimes the first look can feel staged. I preface this with it normally depends on the groom (well sometimes the bride). If you know your groom or yourself isn’t overly emotional then the moment might not live up to your expectations. I tend to see the first look going over great when it’s a strong emotional connection. Not saying their love is deeper but emotions during the first look is heightened. Also, a photographer will be there to photograph the moment making it feel even more staged. I love this moment so I shoot with a 70-200 lens so I can be far away and preserve the moment because it’s all about you two!

I can go on and on about pros and cons of the first look but I don’t want to take up your whole day :)!!! Again, a lot of photographers push for it because it does make the day go by smoother but I love to leave the decision up to my bride and groom. It’s my job to educate them and to ensure they have all the tools they need to have a stress free and successful wedding day!

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts! I hope we can connect in other ways, find me on Instagram , Pinterest or Facebook for more of my work. 

-Justin Douglas