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One set of parents wants you to keep your wedding traditional. The other just wants you to have a good day. So when the question of whether you should have a first look at your wedding or not comes up, one set of parents is louder than the other.

But then you remember, "This isn't their wedding! This is mine!"

Keep this in mind, because this needs to be your motto to yourself when planning your wedding, especially if you are considering breaking tradition and seeing your fiancé before the wedding.

With that said, let me tell you two real life stories I've had when it comes to a first look.

The wedding with no first look

Michael Rachel-7

It was a hot summer day in the middle of July. The venue was a beautiful stable, the couple lovely, and the settings (mostly) right for a wedding.

This specific couple had decided they wanted to keep things traditional, partly for themselves and partly because that's what was expected of them from both families.

Both families were lovely! They just like things traditional.

As it was, the way this specific stable was laid out, they were only two rooms down from each other.

In other words, if one was out, the other was confined to this room where the only comfort available was the AC Unit that was brought into each room.

As the day went along, every humid July moment adding sweat to our brows, arms, and backs, time drew nearer to meet at the ceremony.

Of course photos were completed of the Groom with his groomsmen and the Bride with her Bridesmaids, but the ceremony was late into the evening, limiting us on the amount of light we had.

This wouldn't have been an issue except for 3 things:

  1. The length of the ceremony
  2. The size of both families (for family portraits)
  3. The bridal party photos

The wedding was truly an amazing day, but because of the limited light, we were only able to get about 15 minutes worth of photos of just the bride and groom.

(Remember, the day is about them! But we were limited by our time for what we could do with them together.)

That's thinking of just the photos, but there was the added stress of playing "Hide and Seek" to avoid each other, yelling across rooms, knocking on every door before entering in case the other was in there, and the pressure to do what was expected of them.

I don't want to take away from this wedding, because this isn't an uncommon story. In fact, this is the story with most traditional weddings with no first look.



Let's look at another July wedding.

Same conditions, and even a similar venue at Red River Farms.

The only difference here, aside from the couple, was the fact that this couple took the opportunity to have a first look.

This was something we discussed prior to the wedding, and we discovered something interesting.

There are two reasons a couple tends to opt out of a first look. Either they don't do it because of family expectation, or because they don't want to lose the effect of seeing each other for the first time as the bride comes down the aisle.

(I'm going to break script real fast and remind you to do the wedding as you see fit, not how others expect you to.)

The thing that is interesting is that most men get more emotional during the first look than with the ceremony.


In the first look, it's an intimate moment between two people who are not afraid to show intimate emotions to each other.

At the ceremony, men tend to bottle up what they are feeling because of the pressure of being in front of an audience.

Can you guess what happened during this first look, between Sam and Caleb?

That's right. Tears and stress relief.

The stress of waiting to see the person they love most was gone, and we were able to shoot photos until Sam and Caleb said they were done with them, while staying on time!

Add to that, we were able to complete the family photos and bridal party photos before the ceremony even happened.

What did that mean for Sam and Caleb?

They were able to enjoy their guests during the "cocktail hour" (no cocktails served at this wedding) and even had time to change into something more comfortable for the reception!


Do what feels right to you.

The only thing I can do is to tell you what both experiences are like after having seen so many weddings and to say what each is like.

If you are traditional, then by all means have a traditional wedding! Even if the time is a little closer together, you'll feel so much better for being real to yourself.

But don't let others make that for you.

When Grace and I got married, we did not do a first look, and aside from not having a videographer, it was our biggest regret.

I hope this helps you in making a decision on your first look, and I know wedding planning can be difficult.

If you need help, make sure to download the Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist so you have a roadmap of planning your wedding!

Thanks so much, and good luck on your wedding planning!