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First Look vs No First Look

Surprisingly, this question and decision is extremely important when it come's to the timeline of your wedding day. Do you know the history of WHY a groom isn't "supposed" to see his bride until she's walking down the aisle? It's a very old tradition when arranged marriages were common. The bride's father would arrange a marriage for her to a wealthy, land-owning man, someone the woman had never met. The groom was not able to see the bride until she was walking down the aisle in her wedding gown so that he couldn't change his mind in case he didn't find his bride attractive or appealing. The tradition has since stuck even though most people don't realize the origin. Even so, both options are appealing for multiple reasons.

With all that being said, we do know the excitement and anticipation of waiting to see each other until you're walking down the aisle. In modern day, that is the origin of this tradition. I personally didn't see my husband until I walked down the aisle because I just wanted to see his face when he saw me for the first time, minutes before I became his wife. It's also fun to have the morning and early afternoon time to sit back, relax, get your hair and makeup done, listen to music, bond with your bridesmaids, take extra photos.. there's a lot of reasons to wait.

So.. where does this decision fit with your wedding day timeline? The biggest difference is if you plan to NOT see each other before the ceremony, most of your photos will have to be taken after. This is a much bigger deal and hassle (for you) than you'd realize. After your ceremony, as all your guests collectively head over to the reception area, you will be hanging out for at least an hour taking family photos, bridal party photos that include both you and the groom, portraits of you and the groom, etc… Not only that, but family member tend to wander off and it becomes a big issue to wrangle everybody together and get pictures done so that you can enjoy your reception.

So, what if you decide to do a first look? The best part about the first look is that you get to see each other in (mostly) private for the first time without an audience, besides us taking pictures. We use zoom lenses for these so we can give you as much privacy as possible. You can show off your dress, admire him in his suit, cry if you want to AND even have time after crying to touch up your makeup. You then get to hang out TOGETHER the rest of the afternoon until your ceremony which helps you feel more relaxed and at-ease. However, when I think about this option, I do get a little bit sad because I just know that feeling of waiting until walking down the aisle because it was such a special moment and the pictures of that moment with my husband and the look on this face were priceless and worth the wait.

*photos above are taken by Marianne Wiest Photography and are of me and my husband on our wedding day in 2013.

So now I've made you more confused than ever right? Below I'm going to break down your wedding day timeline in both scenarios. This will be your biggest determining factor in your decision.

Before I get into this, I just want to say that MOST of our recent weddings have done a first look and rarely do our couples wait anymore.

First Look Typical Photo Timeline:

-Getting ready

-Groom and groomsmen getting dressed

-Bride putting on gown

-Bridesmaid reveal

-First look

-Bride and groom portraits

-Bridal party portraits

-Bride with groomsmen

-Groom with bridesmaids

-Entire wedding party

-Groom with groomsmen

-Bride with bridesmaids

-Flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) (both with and without bride and groom)

-Individuals of both bridesmaids and groomsmen

-Any possible family photos depending on when family is arriving

-RELAX. Have a drink if you'd like. We will still document all these moments before the ceremony


-Any additional family portraits that weren't captured before ceremony

-Reception (you won't even notice we're there!)

-Sunset photos. We always steal you away at sunset to take your final bride and groom portraits

Post Ceremony Photo Timeline

-Getting ready

-Groom and groomsmen getting dressed

-Bride putting on gown

-Bridesmaid reveal

-Bride with Bridesmaids

-Individual Bridsmaids

-Bride with flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s)

-Bridal Portraits

-Groom and Groomsmen

-Individual Groomsmen,

-Groom with flower girl(s) and/or ring bearer(s)

-Groomsmen Portraits

-Any family photos that can be done with just the bride or just the groom included


-DJ (hopefully) announces that all family needs to stick around for family photos at a certain location that we decide beforehand

-All, if not most, of the family pictures including bride and grooms side and any pictures we missed that need to include both the bride and the groom (usually between 30-45 minutes for family photos)

-Bride with groomsmen

-Groom with bridesmaids

-Entire bridal party

-Bride and groom portraits


-Sunset Photos

Both of these are the typical timelines you'll see with us on your wedding day. We almost always have to make small adjustments here and there but we've worked together for so long and have done enough weddings that we can easily change things around.

When we first meet with our clients, one of the first questions we will ask you is "will you see each other before the ceremony?" It gives us a good idea of the flow of your wedding day right off the bat. A lot of times this also means you are very into the traditional aspects of your wedding so we keep that in mind and are mindful of that while taking your photos so that we can cater to that.

Whether you decide to do a first look OR you decide to wait, we are absolutely good with whatever decision you make! If we absolutely had to recommend one or the other, we would recommend seeing each other before and doing a first look because, ultimately, it's a lot less stressful on you.

We really hope this post helped you in some way when it comes to making this decision! It's one of our biggest topics when we very first meet our clients and it's always something couples are unsure of. We never want to make our clients feel pressured to do one or the other, which is why we are writing this on our site!

Be sure to share if you have a friend who is trying to make this decision and also subscribe so you don't miss any future posts from us!

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