What is a first look? First Look Wedding Pros and Cons

by Jaimie Dee

What is a first look?  First Look Wedding Pros and Cons

When planning your wedding day’s photography timeline, you may ask: Should we do a ‘first look’? Many of our couples are initially unsure about what a first look means and if it’s right for their wedding. They often weigh the pros and cons, discuss it, and then search for more information to make an informed decision.

What is a first look

What is a first look?

A ‘first look’ is a cherished moment on the wedding day when a couple sees each other privately before the ceremony.

Beyond the emotional connection, opting for a ‘first look’ offers practical advantages. It introduces flexibility into your timeline, allowing for earlier couple portraits, combined bridal party shots, and even family photos if you wish.

This means more freedom later in the day to savor experiences and moments as they unfold – you can enjoy a private moment  after the ceremony to bask in the joy of being newlyweds, join your guests during cocktail hour, or even kick off your reception festivities early, maximizing your time spent with loved ones!

If you’re leaning towards the traditional route, we encourage you to consider the combined emotional and logistical benefits of a ‘first look’. It’s an option that resonates with many, blending heartfelt memories with smooth day-of logistics.

reasons to have a first look

5 Reasons to Consider a First Look (Or Skip It!)

When evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of a ‘first look’ versus a traditional wedding photo timeline, several aspects need consideration. Here are several factors we often discuss with our couples:

1) Sunset Timing: How Does It Align with Your Ceremony?

Have you checked the sunset time for your wedding day? A quick online search can provide this information. Is your ceremony timing fixed? The sunset’s relation to your ceremony often influences 99% of our couples’ decisions regarding whether to do the ‘first look’. If your ceremony concludes just as the sun sets, portraits of the family, bridal party, and the couple would occur in very low light, even in complete darkness in many cases. If you’ve envisioned capturing naturally lit sunset photos during your portrait session and can’t adjust the ceremony timing, it might be worth considering the ‘first look’ option.

wedding first look or not

2) Consider Your Personality

When pondering the ‘first look’, it is so important to consider your personalities! It might seem unconventional, but understanding yourself and how you’re likely to experience different stressors on the day can greatly influence your wedding day flow.

reasons to have a first look

Over the years, many of our couples (whether they identify as introverts or as meticulous ‘Type A’ personalities) have expressed tremendous gratitude for introducing the concept of the new ‘first look’ tradition.

For introverts, the idea of being the center of attention can be overwhelming. The ‘first look’ provides an intimate space where the couple can share a private moment, away from the vying eyes of guests. It’s a serene interlude where the focus is solely on the bond between the two of them, rather than the spectacle of the entire wedding ceremony and all of the guests in attendance.

first look wedding tradition

On the other hand, those who identify as the ‘Type A’ personality might find themselves extra stressed out on the morning of the wedding, considering all of the details that go into planning the wedding day. Seeing their partner for the first time, feeling their touch, and sharing a moment of connection can instantly dissolve layers of stress, reminding them of the day’s true essence: their love and commitment to one other.

first look wedding pros and cons

The First Look offers a moment of calm and connection amidst the day’s hustle, catering to both emotional well-being and seamless event logistics.

3) Emotional Moments: Will There Be Tears?

Emotions and personality often intertwine, especially on important significant occasions like weddings.

Consider this: Do you or your fiance anticipate a wave of emotions that might lead to tears upon seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day? The depth of the day’s significance can evoke strong feelings.

If you lean towards sharing this tearful, joyous moment in private, the ‘first look’ offers an ideal setting. Additionally, it provides the advantage of the chance to touch up your makeup again before the ceremony, ensuring you look your best throughout.

On the contrary, if your first glimpse of each other is during the ceremony and emotions run high, you might not have the same opportunity for touch-ups.

first look wedding photos timeline

However, if you believe neither you nor your fiance are likely to shed tears, this aspect may not influence your decision on the ‘first look’ tradition.

4) Your Time Spent with Loved Ones

How much time would you like to spend with your loved ones on the big day?

Opting for the ‘first look’ can offer a practical advantage. By capturing most of your portrait photos before the ceremony, you open up opportunities to fully enjoy the post-ceremony festivities. After exchanging vows, you can seamlessly transition into the cocktail hour, steal a private moment with your spouse, or even kick off the reception early. The ‘first look’ empowers you to maximize your time, ensuring you can savor every precious moment with your loved ones during the reception.

wedding first look or not

5) Tradition

The final question to ponder revolves around tradition—how much does it matter to you? For many, tradition holds a significant place in the wedding day narrative. If adhering to tradition takes precedence over the previously discussed factors, then a ‘first look’ may not be the right choice.

What is a first look

If tradition deeply resonates with you, choosing the traditional path could lead to some unique considerations:

Your family, bridal party, and couple portraits might unfold in the dark, and the light and airy/ dreamy sunset photos you envisioned may remain out of reach.

Additionally, you may find yourself managing pre-ceremony jitters a little longer compared to those who opt for a ‘first look’.

There’s also the possibility of capturing candid, emotional moments with tear-stained cheeks during the ceremony without getting the opportunity for touchups beforehand.

Furthermore, embracing tradition may translate to less time mingling with family and friends during the reception, as most of your portrait sessions will occur after the ceremony.


In Summary: Making Your First Look Decision

Deciding whether or not to include a ‘first look’ in your wedding day timeline is a personal choice, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It involves a thoughtful consideration of several essential factors:

first look wedding pros and cons

  1. Photography Priorities: If capturing stunning wedding day portraits is a top concern, consider the timing of sunset in relation to your ceremony time. This can significantly impact the quality & overall style of your portraits.
  2. Embracing Your Day: Prioritizing enjoyment means taking into account your personality and how much time you want to spend with family and friends. The ‘first look’ can enhance your overall experience by providing flexibility and private moments.
  3. Honoring Tradition: For couples who hold tradition close to their hearts, there’s value in following established customs. This may mean that certain photographic moments happen in different lighting conditions or that you experience heightened nerves leading up to the ceremony.

first look wedding pros and cons

Ultimately, the choice to have a ‘first look’ or not should align with your unique preferences and wedding vision. It’s a decision that should resonate with your emotions and values. Remember, your wedding day is a celebration of your love, and it should unfold in a way that feels right to you and your partner.


Atlanta Wedding Photographers - Jaimie Dee - us

About the Photographers

Hi! We're Jaimie & Kyle (+Associates) with Jaimie Dee Photography. We're Atlanta photographers based in the metro area and service clients all over the globe. Jaimie Dee Photography was established in 2008. We're primarily a wedding and portrait studio. Our images are crisp, clean & colorful and strike a balance between classic and candid styled portraits. Aside from the photography, we help you craft the perfect photo experience - from the beginning planning stages to the finished artwork hanging on your walls. When you're in front of our camera, we'll also offer you gentle guidance through a combo of stationary and movement based poses. We'll help bring out your inner diva too - even if you're shy! If you're looking for a photographer in the metro Atlanta area or beyond, we'd love to meet you!

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"We had a great experience! Jaimie guided us through our engagement session with such ease. She spent time prior over the phone and via email educating us on how to not only pick our outfits but how to make our poses not ‘pose-y’. Our engagement shoot seemed to only last a few minutes, it was never awkward and I know both my fiance and I loved it. Jaimie gave us direction while still allowing our personalities to shine through! Definitely would recommend her to anyone!"

– Meredith Runge

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"Jaimie and Kyle did our engagement and wedding photos. They were phenomenal to work with and we absolutely loved how our photos turned out. They were super transparent and paid a lot of attention to detail through with the whole planning process and delivered amazing photos from both of our sessions. They were easygoing, laid back, fun to work with, and relatable, which helped us relax and enjoy the sessions even more. I would absolutely recommend if you need a photographer in the ATL area."

– Rachel Bagnik

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"We had the best experience with Jaimie taking our engagement pictures at Piedmont Park! My fiancé and I are clueless in front of the camera but Jaimie guided us the whole way through and it was much less uncomfortable than we were expecting! ... She was so well organized throughout the entire process of scheduling, preparing, and executing the engagement photos and it was very evident that she has a lot of experience... So glad we chose Jaimie for our engagement photos!"

– Tara Sarno

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