Debunking First Look Myths | Wedding Planning Tips | Lehigh Valley Wedding Photographer | Philadelphia Wedding Photographer

Debunking First Look Myths

Deciding whether or not you’ll have a First Look on your wedding day is a big decision! But, it’s part of a conversation that every couple should have with one another along with their wedding photographer as a part of their wedding planning process. There are a lot of myths out there surrounding First Looks, so I thought it would be a good idea to debunk some of what I hear most commonly.

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Myth 1:  “It’s bad luck to see one another prior to the ceremony.”

Waiting to see one another at the altar is an age-old tradition that has its roots in prearranged marriages.  Long ago, it was common for marriages to be set up more like a business deal, where parents would arrange matches for their sons and daughters. This arrangement was usually planned without any input from the future couple, and typically had to do with financial exchanges between the families or to keep power within family lines.

The “rule” of not seeing the bride prior to the ceremony was established so the groom didn't have the chance to change his mind if he saw the bride wasn’t exactly his type.  This is also where the idea of wearing a veil comes from!  Parents of the bride made certain that their daughter was completely unseen to avoid the embarrassment and shame of the groom not following through with the marriage on the basis that the bride wasn’t attractive enough. 

This custom gradually evolved into the general idea that it was “bad luck” for a groom to see his bride prior to the ceremony on their wedding day.

Today, this superstition has phased out as I see more and more couples choosing to prioritize their portraits by doing a “First Look” prior to the ceremony (80% of Hope & Stay Couples have a First Look on their wedding day!).   This is definitely a superstition that is debunked and a tradition that can be broken if its what’s best for you and your future spouse!


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Myth 2:  “The groom won’t be as surprised or excited if he sees the bride before the ceremony.” 

In my experience, the exact opposite is true.  Grooms who see their brides for the first time when she’s coming down the aisle tend to be more reserved and stoic. I have found that they often hold back their emotions because they feel like they are “on display” in front of all of their family and guests.   Plus, it’s not generally common for the groom to gush over his bride during the ceremony.

With a First Look, I see many more instances where the groom allows himself to really get swept up in the emotion of the moment of seeing his bride for the first time.  Imagine it…it’s just the two of you, in a private location having this special moment all to yourselves.  He can embrace you, tell you how beautiful you are, kiss you, and allow himself to feel all the feels.  This, my friends, is where I see the most emotion from the groom and get the best photos of this special moment for the two of you.


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Myth 3: “Our parents/grandparents didn’t see one another prior to the ceremony, so we have to do the same.”

I’ve been a bride and I completely get it.  I, too, wanted to please everyone and there were definitely wedding day decisions I made that were based upon other people’s ideas and opinions.  This was one of the most stressful parts of my wedding planning process in that everyone seemed to have an expectation about what our wedding day should look like and how it should be planned. 

What you have to keep in mind is that this is your day and deciding on a First Look is a decision that only the bride and groom can make about what is best for them.  If a First Look sounds like it’s the right match for your personality types, your wedding day timeline, and what you desire for your day, then listen to your gut and go for it!   You won’t regret trusting yourself and following through on what you envision for your wedding day.

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Myth 4: “Cocktail hour will give us plenty of time for portraits.”

This is a tricky one. Sometimes, yes, this is true, if a couple has an extended cocktail hour (1.5 hours) or has a good amount of time between the ceremony and their reception. There’s a lot of factors to consider when making this determination, too. For example, the size of the bridal party, number of people included in family portraits, sunset time in relation to your ceremony, travel time between locations, etc.

Creative portraits take time and so does organizing large groups of people! So, my recommendation here is to have an open and honest conversation with your photographer about this to make sure everyone is on the same page about expectations and what is feasible for your timeline and wedding day plans.


Alyssa is a wedding & portrait photographer serving the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas of New Jersey, Bucks County, and Philadelphia area. To chat with Alyssa about your upcoming wedding , fill out a simple e-mail inquiry.