Should I do a "first look" on my wedding day?

Should I do a first look? | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | North NJ Wedding Photographer

To first look or not? 

Its a question pretty much every bride has to ask themselves once they get engaged and start planning out the timeline of their wedding day. For some brides its a very simple yes or no based on a litany of other factors about the day....ceremony time, timeline preferences etc...

For other brides, the answer isn't quite as simple. There is a long history and tradition built up for many of us that leads us to not want to miss out on that magical moment of the groom seeing their bride for the very first time on their wedding day as she is walking down the aisle toward him. But often times, there just isn't enough time to get all of the desired photos done after the ceremony and before the party begins. Sigh...if only it could be an easy decision every time!

For those on the fence...I've crafted a few points that are important to factor into your decision. It's important to note that there is NO (and I mean ZERO) right or wrong answer when it comes to this question. What works perfectly for some couples on their day may not be possible for others. Weigh the options, what works best based on your priorities for the day and then make a your decision! Whatever you decide, your day will still be the day you start your lives together and THAT is the most important thing of all! 

Should I do a first look? | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | North NJ Wedding Photographer

Important Considerations

Ceremony Time

The time of year you get married and the type of ceremony you are having will usually dictate the ceremony time. If you are having a Catholic wedding (pretty much any time of year) your ceremony time will likely be earlier in the day. If you are getting married at an outdoor venue in Spring or Fall, your ceremony time might be around 4 or 5 pm. If you are getting married in the summertime at an outdoor venue your ceremony time might be as late at 6:30 or 7pm. All of this will factor into whether or not a first look between you and your fiance is necessary. 

When Paul and I got married in June of 2011 in Seattle, our ceremony took place at 7pm on a Friday evening. Our reception would be over at 11pm. It was a fast wedding! In order for us to get any sort of pictures at all of the bridal party, family and most importantly of me and Paul, we literally had no choice but to do a first look. Even though we were both fine with having that private moment for just the two of us prior to the ceremony, our ceremony time really dictated the necessity of incorporating a first look into our day. 

Getting the moment twice

One of my favorite aspects of a first look is actually getting that "moment" twice. Some couples feel like they will be missing out on the "moment" of walking down the aisle, when in reality you get that moment during the first lok and then AGAIN when you actually walk down the aisle towards your groom. The first look is private and sweet and you get to enjoy seeing each other as bride and groom alone without hundreds of eyes on you. It is a precious, precious time on your wedding day. 

And then, during the ceremony, you get to do it all over again! I know for me, when I walked down the aisle towards Paul during our wedding, the moment was so incredibly overwhelming. Here I was, about to get MARRIED and all of these people that I knew and loved were there supporting us and loving us and witnessing our union and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. In one sense, I was so glad that Paul and I had already had our moment together and now we were getting to enjoy this moment together with everyone else. 

Should I do a first look? | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | North NJ Wedding Photographer

Cocktail Hour

If you opt not to do a first look, depending on the timing of the day, you will likely miss out on most of, if not all of your cocktail hour. For some couples this is not a big deal at all and for other couples it is very important for them to be in attendance at the cocktail hour. 

If you need to accomplish family photos, bridal party photos and bride and groom portraits all after the ceremony, unless you have a large gap of time between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of cocktail hour, the bride and groom will miss cocktail hour in order to capture those photos at that time. 


If you are really undecided on how you want to approach the timeline of the day, you need to prioritize what is MOST important to you as a couple. Consider all of the factors as they stand and rank them in order of importance. If attending cocktail hour ranks higher, go with the first look. If seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle ranks higher, forgo the first look. If you want to have as much time as possible for bride and groom portraits, go with the first look as you can do all of that prior to the ceremony beginning. As I mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong's different for every couple. With some careful consideration, you will be able to make a decision that you are both comfortable with. 

Hopefully this information has helped you in your decision making process of determining whether a first look is right for you! As always, if you have any questions at all feel free to comment or shoot me an email! 

For more tips and tricks don't forget to check out the With this Ring blog series!

If you interested in booking me for wedding photography, contact me HERE. I can't wait to hear from you!