First Look vs No Look: What is best for your day?

One of the first questions I ask my clients is whether or not they want a to do a first look on their wedding day and more often than not I get a long, drawn-out, Tina-Belcher-esque "eeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuhhhhhh?" They're not sure. And I get it. There are some awesome pros and pause-inspiring cons to each. A lot of photographers (including myself, I'll admit) will often recommend doing the first look over the traditional "see each other at the ceremony" approach because frankly it makes photographing the day a bit easier. But you know what? The big secret photographers won't always tell you is that *both* are a great option. We can capture either one equally as well, I promise. Yes, picking one over the other will change the timeline of your day, but in the end you'll still have amazing photos. All I ask of you is that you make an informed decision either way so that which ever you choose perfectly reflects how you have planned the wedding. So today I am going to break down a few of the pros and cons as I see them so you can make the best decision for you.

Traditional "No Look" Approach


  • The oogly-googly, butterflies-in-your-tummy, totally-make-you-wanna-cry-into-your-bouqet feeling you get when you see your fiancé down the aisle for the first time. This is an extremely special thing for both you and your fiancé, one that is probably tops your Life Moment list up until this point. Nothing can beat it.
  • A more concise wedding schedule. Not having to juggle a first look before the wedding means you can pretty much go from hair and makeup straight into the ceremony without much in-between. This could mean less photography hours you have to purchase, making the investment in your photographer a little easier on the pockets.


  • Crying into your bouquet (or boutonnière) as the ceremony starts could cause some make-up malfunctions and/or create the dreaded puffy-eye syndrome for photos. I personally think these real moments are great to capture because they show the raw emotion of the day, but I know it may not be ideal if you're wanting to look 100% perfect for the wedding day.
  • There is also a lot of pressure for both the bride and groom to have a noticeable reaction during this moment. There is a good chance you'll both be super nervous and that reaction may not manifest they way you expect, especially if you have a large wedding with many guests watching. If either of you get stage fright, a traditional No Look may not be the best choice for you.
  • A more concise wedding schedule means less time to get all of the photos you want. You'll have to push wedding party, family and bride/groom photos until after the ceremony. This is totally do-able, but it will limit the variety and number of photos you'll get when all is said and done.

The First Look


  • You still get the butterflies and the tears, but you get to do so without the pressure of everyone watching. With a first look you get a beautiful, intimate moment with just you and your fiancé to experience together and if the photographer does their job right, you won't even know they are there. Added bonus? Plenty of time to touch up makeup and de-puff the eyes before walking down the aisle later.
  • More time to take awesome photos! When you have the first look scheduled before the ceremony, you have as  much time as you want to schedule to take all of the photos you want from the day. Want photos in locations away from the venue location? No problem! You have all the time in the world.
  • Also! When scheduling the photos beforehand, you'll get the bridal party photos and family photos out of the way before you step foot in the venue which means? Drumroll get to party at the reception much earlier!


  • An earlier start time. Because all of the photos start before the ceremony, the bridal party will need to be ready (hair and makeup included) well before the ceremony time. This means more coordination of schedules and an earlier start time for your photographer.
  • An earlier start time for your photographer means possibly having to pay for more coverage time. This isn't always the case, but keep this in mind as you set the schedule and make sure you pad the photography budget to cover it if need be.
  • Possibly less butterflies when you and your fiancé for the second time during the ceremony. But! If you plan at least 30 minutes between your last photo and the start time, the anticipation of seeing your fiancé builds again and you'll get a second helping of butterflies when you spot them down the aisle.

Now there are probably more pros and cons out there, but for me these stand out as some of the most significant. As you can see it really boils down to how you want to structure your schedule for the day. In both cases, you get all of the awesome feelings when you see your fiancé for the first time and either way you'll get awesome photos. You just need to decide how much time you want to spend and when you want to spend it during the day. So as you take the journey of deciding whether or not you want a first look or not, keep these factors and mind and see which one works best for how you'd like to structure your wedding day.

That's it for today, folks! If you have any other pros and cons for either approach, leave them in comments!