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First Look Wedding Photos: Pros, Cons and Unique Ideas

First look photos are trending. What is a first look? Peek the pros, cons, and other unique pre-ceremony photo ideas!

first look photos
Family

Traditionally, couples don’t sneak a peek at each other until they’ve walked down the aisle to avoid bad luck. But as times have evolved, a more modern day wedding trend has entered the chat: the first look. A first look is when a couple sees each other for the first time, dressed in their wedding best, before the ceremony. It may sound like something out of a fairytale or your favorite romcom, but if you’re in the midst of wedding planning, determining whether or not to see your partner before the ceremony can feel like a monumental decision. A first look can be a special moment, and may even become one of your favorite photos from your wedding day. First look photos are typically captured by a photographer and make a spectacular addition to your wedding photo book. However, there are first look pros and cons, and nothing wrong with sticking to the tradition of saving that special moment for your walk down the aisle.

Traditionally, couples don’t sneak a peek at each other until they’ve walked down the aisle to avoid bad luck. But as times have evolved, a more modern day wedding trend has entered the chat: the first look. A first look is when a couple sees each other for the first time, dressed in their wedding best, before the ceremony. It may sound like something out of a fairytale or your favorite romcom, but if you’re in the midst of wedding planning, determining whether or not to see your partner before the ceremony can feel like a monumental decision. A first look can be a special moment, and may even become one of your favorite photos from your wedding day. First look photos are typically captured by a photographer and make a spectacular addition to your wedding photo book. However, there are first look pros and cons, and nothing wrong with sticking to the tradition of saving that special moment for your walk down the aisle.

First Look Photos

How long first look photos take will depend on your wedding photographer, but may take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. First look photos generally take place two hours before the ceremony, which should provide enough time for the couple to have their private first look moment, followed by formal photos or portraits with immediate family and the wedding party. Keep all your photos from the big day in a super luxe Premium Layflat Photo Book, perfect for the most important photos you’ll ever take. Or, opt for a Classic Photo Book, which can hold up to 366 pages and is also a great option for sending duplicates to guests and family members!

First Look Pros

From easing nerves, capturing candid photos, and saving time, there are many advantages to doing a first look with your partner.

Ease Nerves Before the Ceremony

First look photos create space for a private, intimate moment for the couple amidst the busyness of the big day. Here, without the spotlight, you can put each other at ease, calm any wedding day jitters, and engage in a brief moment of connection and comfort as you take your first look. This time allows the couple to enter the ceremony feeling more relaxed, and better able to focus on and remember the ceremony (versus showing up as a ball of nerves).

More Quality Time

First look photos provide more quality time for a couple on their big day. Typically, couples get dressed and ready separately, in their respective quarters, only meeting in an agreed upon location before the wedding ceremony, which doesn’t leave them a lot of time together during the day. There are so many logistics and formalities that come with a wedding, that it’s sometimes impossible to sneak in a special moment with your spouse. First look photos maximize the time spent together, and a Premium Layflat Photo Book can capture the romance perfectly.

Capture More Emotion

It’s sometimes hard for some people to be the center of attention, let alone show emotion in front of an entire room of family and friends. A first look allows photographers to capture candid photos of the raw, unfiltered emotions that bubble up when a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day. It’s beautiful, fun, and creative — and can be relived over and over again when flipping through your wedding photo book.

Save Time

Scheduling a first look can save time and allow the couple to spend more time with their guests. 

By taking the first look photos and a majority of the formal portraits before the ceremony, it frees up time for the couple to enjoy the cocktail hour and mingle with guests, or rest and reset before the reception. First look photos also prevent the couple from having to pull guests away from the celebration for formal photos later on.

First Look Cons

Although there are many benefits, there are also some downsides to doing first look photos.

unique pre-wedding photoshoot ideas
Go Against Tradition

Trends come and go, but the tradition of couples not seeing each other until the ceremony has stuck around for a long time. If you, your spouse, or your families are superstitious or traditionalists, it may be best to skip first look photos.

Earlier Start to the Day

Doing a first look takes time, so chances are, the couple will need to start their day earlier to accommodate the time needed to get ready for the ceremony. It runs the risk of making the wedding day schedule more complicated, which may mean getting hair and makeup done earlier or rearranging the wedding day order of events.

Could Feel Awkward or Staged

While first look photos only feature the couple, a photographer — and in some cases, a videographer and/or a few members of immediate family — may also be present. For some couples, this doesn’t always resonate, and it may feel awkward or uncomfortable.

Unique Pre-Wedding Photoshoot Ideas

  • candid photos 
  • natural backdrop 
  • sports
  • beach 
  • in nature
  • with pets 
  • at a picnic 
  • posing
  • on water/on a boat

Ultimately, taking, or not taking, first look photos is a personal decision and there’s no wrong answer. Think about what’s most important to you and how you want to feel on your wedding day. Communicate with your partner, prioritize those things, and you’ll have the best day ever!

Don’t forget to make a personalized wedding guest book so your wedding guests can write sweet messages, plus capture all of your favorite wedding memories and photos in a Premium Layflat Photo Book or a Classic Photo Book so you can relive the romance for years to come.

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