Should we have a First Look?

The “First Look” or “Reveal” has become a very popular option for couples planning a wedding. For those not familiar with the concept, the First Look is a private moment when a couple see each other for the first time before the wedding ceremony. This romantic and often emotional exchange is planned in advance and usually takes place at a quiet location on the wedding day. I’m often asked by my couples; “Should we consider a First Look?” and “How do we plan a First Look?” Before I reveal my own thoughts on the matter, I think it is important to dig up a little history on the subject!

A Little History

Dating back to a time when arranged marriages were more common in western civilization, the bride and groom were not permitted to see each other before the ceremony. This custom was not intended as a romantic notion, but rather a preventative measure to ensure the union took place. For the families, the wedding was often a carefully planned business transaction, and the idea of marrying off their son or daughter for love was not the prime concern!

Although it is rare to see an arranged marriage in the West today, many couples still honour the custom by waiting until the ceremony to see each other. While some believe there is an element of bad luck if the groom sees the bride in her wedding dress, most choose to honour the tradition for the romanticism and emotional impact.

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The First Look

I’m a fairly traditional person by nature and a romantic at heart. When I was married many moons ago, I rented a B&B out of town to ensure that my future husband did not see me until I walked down the aisle. I was adamant that we honour the tradition! To be honest, I didn’t know about a First Look until I became a full-time wedding photographer. From my perspective, the First Look is a wonderful experience for couples and one of my favourite moments to capture during the wedding day.

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I’ve had the opportunity to photograph a number of couples for their First Look. Based on my observations, I’ve provided a list of pros and cons that may help make your decision a little easier!

The Pros

It settles the nerves. Seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day is a very emotional moment. Some couples prefer to experience this time in private while the photographers capture the union in real time.

A private moment on a very busy day. This is one of the few times during the wedding day when couples can be alone. Some couples use this time to share a love note or a personal gift.

It allows more time for photographs. Having a First Look can allow more time for the formal family portraits or couple portraits before the ceremony.

An additional moment. Couples will often experience the same feelings of joy and wonder at the ceremony as they did during the First Look.

A meaningful location. Choosing a First Look location that has special meaning can enhance the experience. Some couples choose the site of their first date or the proposal.

Easy to plan. A First Look generally takes about 10-15 minutes in total. A private, quiet and uncluttered location works best. Couples can choose a location that has special meaning or I can make a few suitable suggestions. Once the location has been chosen, the rest is organized by your photographers.

The Cons

Breaking with tradition. As mentioned earlier, many couples prefer the traditional western custom of waiting until the ceremony to see each other. Some believe it can be bad luck if the groom sees his lovely bride in her dress before the nuptials.

The Timing. Sometimes the schedule won’t allow for a First Look, especially if the location is far from the ceremony. No one likes to be rushed!

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There are many positive reasons to have the First Look, but it is a personal choice and it must feel right. As your photographer, I’m happy to accommodate either way. First Look or no First Look the decision is all yours!

Lori-Anne Crewe


Lori Crewe