To First Look, or Not to First Look | Dakota Chasity Photography


What’s the Deal?

I wouldn’t say that this topic is controversial by any means, but the decision to do a “first look” or not is about 50/50 amongst brides & grooms (I have actually poll’ed it a few times to support this too).

For me, creating timelines for my couples is based on two particular points of the day: ceremony time & whether or not they are going to do a first look. Once I have those two things, it’s easier for me to build the rest of the day around that. So, what are the pros & cons of doing/not doing a first look?

First Look Pros:

- eases nerves before the ceremony by giving you guys a chance to catch your breath, talk, let out your emotions if you need to, & enjoy some time alone without the pressure of an audience (besides your photographer & videographer)
- it gives you the chance to just spend more time with your best friend (usually an hour compared to only 15-30 minutes after ceremony)
- it adds another special moment to your day
- you typically save time by doing the larger portion of the day’s photos before the ceremony even begins, which also means that you’ll get to get food in your bellies faster, hang with your family & friends longer, & hit that dance floor a little harder.

First Look Cons:

- doesn’t keep to tradition
- usually means getting that you guys are going to have to start getting ready a little earlier in the day
- you might need a hair/makeup touch-up before the ceremony

First Look Myths, Busted:

MYTH: Seeing each other before makes the moment down the aisle less suspenseful/steals your thunder.

TRUTH: The suspense is still there whether you do a first look or wait until you walk the aisle. Why? Because the bride & groom are still going to have their “first look” either way. The only thing that is actually different about the two is that a crowd is present for one of them. What has to be determined is whether or not you feel it’s more important to you guys to let the first time you see each other be alone or in the presence of others. Being in a room full of other people getting emotional can certainly (but not definitively) make your first time seeing each other more emotional.

When the House Is Divided:

If you guys differ on opinion, a great way to meet in the middle is to have a few moments alone without being able to see each other. You get the benefits of easing your the nerves/having some time alone/adding another special moment to your day, but still holding true to not seeing each other before the ceremony. You can even exchange letters you’ve written to each other. You can say some things that you want to say. You can pray together. You can play a song on your guitar or sing to each other. In the 7 years I’ve been shooting weddings & elopements, this has been the most popular of the three options.


- talk to each other before you make a decision about doing/not doing a first look
- if you decide to do a first look, don’t exclude your photographer & videographer
- if you decide to do a first look, make sure you tell the bride/groom that your photographer & videographer will be there so that they aren’t worried/akward about us seeing you guys
- don’t have expectations of how your bride/groom should react, no matter what option you go with
- do what is right for you guys only & don’t worry about everyone else

Final Thoughts:

I always encourage my couples to do whatever they want because it’s THEIR day. Traditional, non-traditional. Abide by the rules, bend them, or break them. Or just make your own rules. Just because something is traditional/popular/trendy, does not mean that you have to do it. You have to decide what’s right for you. I think it’s great that there is versatility in your options and I think it’s important that you know what is available to you.

If you are tying the knot soon, I hope that this helps give you some direction while you a planning your day. Talk to your fiancé. Talk to your photographer. Do YOUR thing.

If you are a photographer, talk to your clients. Get an idea of what their wedding day is going to look like, let them know what those options will look like for them, & help their vision come to life. Work YOUR magic.

XO, Dakota Chasity