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First Look vs. "WOW" at the Aisle!

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Positives of first look:

  • Intimate setting

  • Great time to read your vows privately

  • Fun things to do: Pray or take a shot

  • Gives more time for photos

  • More genuine reactions

Positives of Ceremony/Altar Walk:

  • The WOW factor

  • Traditional & classy

  • More emotion in photos?

The idea of not seeing your bride or groom until you walk down the aisle dates all the way back to the days of arranged marriages. It’s a classic tradition, a convention that many brides do on their wedding day because that’s how things are done.

But here’s the thing- it’s YOUR day. You could wear a lime green dress, your hair in a ponytail, and walk down the aisle to the Backstreet Boys if you really want to. (I’m not too sure about the lime green but it’s always an okay time for the Backstreet Boys!) There’s no manual and there’s nothing that says you HAVE to first see your future forever as you come down the aisle.

More and more these days, couples are opting for a ‘First Look’ prior to the ceremony, where the couple sees each other before the actual walk down the aisle, with usually just the wedding photographer present. It’s intimate and private, and many couples choose this time to share their vows, completely one-on-one.

You can’t go wrong with either, but if you’re on the fence about how you want your future spouse to first see you on your wedding day, I’m here to help.

Going for the ceremony/altar walk is classy. It’s a tried-and-true tradition, where all your guests can look from you to your spouse- and then BACK to you and then BACK to your spouse- trying to catch your significant other’s face as they see their beautiful bride. It’s the WOW factor. That moment when the happy couple locks eyes and realizes this is it- this is where our new story starts. There’s a sense of raw vulnerability, where the emotion is generally 100% real and live and the happy tears often flow with no help or pressure. Your sole focus is on them, anchoring you to one another as you continue to move closer to each other.

The altar meeting is a custom many women dream about as they plan their weddings, an idea that formed as a young girl pretended to walk down her hallway, carrying a bundle of dandelions and making eye contact with that weird neighbor kid she bribed to play her husband…no, that was just me?

One of my future brides has joked she wants the walk down the aisle, because she wants her future husband to cry in front of everyone! She said for her, watching the groom’s reaction as the bride walks down the aisle is her favorite part about weddings. And she’s not alone in that thought.

But here’s a possible ripple in that happy thought- when you walk down the aisle, he’s literally almost the LAST person to see you. You walk by all your guests and are closer to them than you are to your soulmate, and you should ask yourself, do you want them to be the last one to see you, or the first? For some, the answer is still last. It’s the way things are “always done”, and why mess with tradition?

A first look gives you two the private, alone time to share. That moment to realize you’re about to embark on a lifelong journey together, and many couples often use this time to pray for their union. Some take a shot. Hey, we all say ‘buckle up, here we go’ in different ways!

The reactions between each couple are often more genuine and result in some pretty fantastic photos. For some future brides, being in front of their significant other before “the big event” helps calm the nerves. Some brides have added that first looks are time savers and more convenient for pictures.

At the end of the day, it’s about what you and your spouse want. A private, intimate moment together, or a moment of blissful tradition, surrounded by all your family and friends.

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