WEDDING WEDNESDAY | Should I Do a First Look?


Keeping in mind that I got married a little more than ten years ago, even then it seemed out of sorts to break the traditions of traditional wedding day happenings or un-happenings.  I remember scrambling to get all of my "something old, something new, something borrower, something blue"... so much that I'm fairly confident I took the bracelet off of my mom's wrist just to have something borrowed.  Of course all of my bridesmaids wore the same shoes, the same dress, and even had the same jewelry.  We got married in a church, and I wore a white dress (with a little color... I mean c'mon folks!)  I'm sure there are many other "traditions and superstitions" that I'm not thinking of.  But the biggest one that seems to be breaking more and more often?  The First Look.

Yes, the tradition/superstition of seeing each other before the wedding ceremony.  GASP!  I took to Google to see where this tradition stems from (because let's be honest... Google knows all!) and I was SUPER surprised to find that it actually originates from arranged marriages!  According to,

"During the time when arranged marriages were custom, the betrothed couple wasn’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all. The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families... and a father would have been pleased for his daughter to marry a man from a rich, land-owning family. But he also feared that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and thought she wasn’t attractive, he’d call off the wedding, casting shame onto the bride and her family. Therefore, it became tradition that the bride and groom were only allowed to meet at the wedding ceremony so that the groom did not have the opportunity to change his mind."

How crazy is that?!?!  

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for couples to do a first look.  Personally, first looks are my favorite part of the wedding day for my ANP couples next to the sunset portraits if I'm there long enough!  There is a number of reasons for this, but I'll highlight my top 3:


1- You're probably used to seeing each other all of the time anyway, so WOW what a stress relief for you!  It's a huge tension breaker and leads into a much less anxiety filled ceremony & reception
2- I personally encourage my couples to not allow anyone else to be present for their first look other than myself and my second photographer.  This is because, again, the day up to that point has been absolutely CRAZY.  You've missed each other and probably need each other for a moment of comfort.  It's a quiet, intimate time in the midst of the hustle and bustle to get down the aisle!
3- The memories.  I can tell you that I have photographed some incredibly epically emotional first looks.  I hate saying that I enjoy the emotion, but it's not because I like to watch people get emotional... but I get to see their hearts.  Seeing the love my couples have for each other completely unfold right in front of me is incredible, and the fact I am able to produce the images that they can look back on and tell the same story to their friends, family, children... unexplainable.

I asked a number of people why they chose to do or not do a first look on their wedding day.  I was surprised to see it was about a 50/50 split as to whether or not they did one, and the reasons were pretty common... 

"[We] are too traditional."
"I did and I'm so glad, the quiet time [before the wedding] was appreciated."
"I say, tradition be damned!"
"We lived together, so it was hard for us to be apart for a whole day."
"Absolutely not.  There's just some things that are better when you wait for them... [him] seeing me for the first time as his almost wife as I'm coming down the aisle looking my best?  I can't put a price on that."

So, when you're planning out your big day and working with your photographer to schedule your timeline... make sure you think long and hard about doing a first look.  It seems like a simple decision, but really it comes down to tradition and superstition.  If you aren't either of those things... then I say DO IT -- you won't regret it for one second.

Amber Pond