To Look or Not To Look

First Look vs. Wait Until Ceremony

After finding the perfect photographer to capture the occasion, the two of you will have to choose when to have your pictures taken on the big day. For the bride and groom who are steadfast followers of tradition, a "first look" (in which the couple has photos taken prior to the ceremony) will probably be a nonstarter. But for those of you who are torn between a first look and waiting until the ceremony, read on. We've listed all the stats below for your careful consideration. 


1. Privacy. First look enables the couple to see one another without hundreds of wedding guests in the mix. 

2. Touch-ups. Should you cry during the first look, you'll have the chance to have your makeup re-applied before the ceremony.

3. Excitement. First look photos will capture the excitement each of you has before you have tied the knot. 

4. Calming effect. Seeing the husband to-be before walking down the aisle will definitely calm the nerves of an anxious bride. Likewise, an anxious groom at the end of the aisle may not make for the best candid photos. 

5. Timing. First look allows for easy transition from ceremony to reception. This is especially beneficial to guests. Since wedding photos are time-consuming to say the least, your guests won't have an odd break of time between the ceremony and reception. 

6. Don't miss a moment. Having a first look allows the bride and groom to enjoy all of the cocktail hour and mingle with guests before sitting down to the meal. 

7. Stress reliever. By having the photos done before the ceremony, the bride and groom can relax completely once the ceremony is finished. 

8. Conversation. Though you'll see it in his eyes, he can tell you immediately just how beautiful you look. And you can tell him how dashing he looks as well!

9. No rush. By doing a first look, neither one of you will feel pressure to get to the cocktail hour or reception. You can take your time and enjoy the process. 

10. Location. First look allows you to choose the backdrop for seeing each other rather than requiring it to be in the ceremony location. 

1. Newlywed bliss. Post-ceremony photos capture the peaceful state of happiness on the bride and groom's faces after actually tying the knot. No jitters, just relaxation. 

2. Ceremony surprise. The photographer is able to capture the complete astonishment and excitement on the groom's face when he sees his bride for the first time walking down the aisle. 

3. Picture party. For couples who would like grandparents, in-laws, parents or anyone not in the wedding party to be part of the photo session, waiting until after the ceremony for group pictures allows these guests to not have to come to the venue early. This is especially helpful for elderly guests. 

4. Sunset shots. Post-ceremony pictures, given the average ceremony time, allows for a stunning backdrop. Likely the sun will be setting, creating a beautiful wash of color in the sky. 

5. Circumstances. For close followers of tradition, post-ceremony pictures are just that: photos of the married couple. Since first look photos are taken prior to the ceremony, save the marriage license, the couple has not fully tied the knot. 

6. Irreplaceable. Photos aside, witnessing the look on your groom's face as you walk down the aisle should not be discounted. It's priceless. 

7. Guest book signing. With the bride groom and party preoccupied during cocktail hour, this ensures guests will take the time to sign your guest book rather than seek you all out to chat. 

8. Options. Feel free to schedule photo session time with just your bridesmaids or just your immediate family. Break up the sessions and save time post-ceremony. There are plenty of photos that can be taken without the bride and groom together before the ceremony. 

9. Expectations. Despite recent trends, it's long-standing tradition that the bride and groom wait until the ceremony to see one another. No one will be offended or surprised with the choice. 

10. Write a note. A romantic way to communicate with your man before the ceremony is to exchange letters. Let your photographer capture this moment instead. 

Top two photos: Critsey Rowe

Bottom photo: Chuck Eaton

Categories: Bride + Groom