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Wedding First Look or Aisle Reveal?

Are you trying to decide between having a wedding first look moment or waiting for the big reveal down the aisle? This blog is to help you learn the pros and cons for each choice. Certainly, whatever you choose will be right for you!

No one can tell you how to plan the perfect wedding because the definition changes and exists for each specific couple. No blog that you find or vendor that you hire can tell you what’s right for you. But what we can give you is advice, based on our vast experiences, and help you make an educated decision.

This is a battle that I watch every couple come to terms with: should I do a wedding first look?

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The difference in a first look or an aisle reveal is down to two key points: timing and privacy.

There are a few times when I will strongly encourage a first look:

  1. winter weddings (when the sunset is super early)
  2. when multiple locations are involved or
  3. if you have a really late ceremony where we don’t have enough natural light after for portraits.

Which brings me to my first point… TIMING.

With a wedding first look, all you have left after the ceremony is Family Formals, just 30 minutes! Allowing you time to enjoy cocktail hour and sneak off for some extra portraits. As well as enjoy a breath of fresh air without pressure!

Another bonus is that you have more flexibility in case of rain, delays, travel, etc. Trust me, having that extra time can be magical for your sanity.

But my favorite reason that couples choose to do a first look is privacy. Without the gawking of guests. Without the expectations and pressure, you are able to fully immerse yourself in the moment. You can let all emotions play out to their fullest extent.

In the photo above, Amy decided to surprise her groom by wearing a traditional Filipino wedding attire. They still got to have an aisle moment as they both changed into western wedding clothes before the ceremony (see them in the next section too)!

For some it gives them the opportunity to shed a tear, open their hearts. For others it just lets the excitement out without the pressure of how society tells them to react. Its a time to take in the moment, find your center with your favorite person and let out all your emotions knowing you have a chance to touch up your make-up after.

I have never known a couple that reacts exactly the way they anticipated. This moment is often built up in your head. A first look gives you the opportunity to strip back those expectations and embrace it together. Many people are scared that a first look will take away from the authenticity of the aisle moment but I have seen my share of couples that did a first look and cried AGAIN, or more, during the aisle moment.


You can’t knock tradition. When you’re binge-watching romantic comedies, the music is swelling and the bride is walking down the aisle to her best friend turned husband as he wipes away the tears and her dad gives her away. Trust me, I get it… I’ve had the dream too y’all.

You’re staring straight past the aisles full of your family and friends while in the distance you see your partner waiting for you. It’s incredible, there’s no denying it. Aisle reveals definitely come with the WOW factor!

With a traditional aisle reveal, after the ceremony we will need approximately 1.5 hours. Enough time for Family Formals, Full Wedding Party and couples photos.

Consequently all of the photos need to happen before the sun goes down. So, you may end up with a limited variety in portrait photos. We try and stick to one spot and mix up poses to maximize the time.

First looks created this big trend of creative options for couples that want to stick to tradition. From a prayer together or a hand touch. To a blindfolded hug… the options are endless. There are so many creative options that don’t take away from the aisle tradition.

Truth be told, you do you boo boo! Make this thing your own. Mix it up and choose what feels right for YOU and your partner. Whatever you end up doing you’ll be sure to get the greatest photos of some really special moments.

View more planning tips for your wedding day on the blog!

Hey, I’m Arielle

A Florida wedding photographer living in Gainesville that specializes in joyful, timeless wedding & family photography. And when I’m not photographing amazing couples and families, you can most likely find me on a roller-coaster, sipping Starbucks refreshers or binge-watching thriller shows on Netflix. My favorite days are spent with people like you!


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ready to make the best decision ever?