Wedding Wednesday: 3 Reasons Why You Should Skip the First Look - Radian Photography

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Wedding Wednesday: 3 Reasons Why You Should Skip the First Look

After the dress has been put on and the tie has been tied, it’s time to see each other! But…at the ceremony or at a first look? The question of whether or not a couple should do a first look is one we receive more than any other, so we thought we would bring you some insight from our past experiences and the people who are prepared to give you the best advice — our couples themselves! This post includes interviews from couples who did not choose to have a first look. Check out our previous post to read advice from couples who did!

Spoiler alert: we did not do a first look on our wedding day! That’s why we love presenting our couples with both sides when asking if they prefer to have one. Because, to be honest, while we might wish we had done a few things different here and there, our wedding day was perfect. We wouldn’t go back and add a first look. At the end of the day, we were married to each other with all of our friends and family present and that’s all that really matters.

But maybe you’re not there yet! Maybe you’re still wondering what you will do for your wedding day! If you read last week’s post about why you should have a first look and are still on the fence, here are some things to consider about why you might want to skip it altogether:

Should I do a first look?

Reason #1: Tradition

In case you haven’t noticed, we love traditions. A lot. We light sparklers on every anniversary, we write in the same journal every night (and have since day 1 of our marriage), and we look forward to all of the traditions we’re going to build for our family in the future. These are slightly different than the “tradition” we refer to when talking about seeing each other on your wedding day, but it’s the same general reason we chose not to see each other before our ceremony. It’s tradition. And, to some, it’s bad luck! This is the number one reason we hear from brides and grooms when they choose not to see each other before their ceremony.

Our bride, Amber, said this best: “We are very happy with our decision to not have a first look! We aren’t super traditional in most ways, but thought that was a pretty special way to keep some tradition in our ceremony. I also fell in the love with the idea of getting pictures of his face as I was coming down the aisle – something I had seen in my wedding research. Being able to capture his genuine and immediate response to his bride just moments before saying “I do” was priceless and perhaps not something you could capture if you have done a first look. We also knew we did not want to take bridal pictures before the ceremony, as many couples do after their first look, because we did not want to look back at our pictures and know we weren’t actually married when we took them. So all those reasons added up to us choosing to forego the first look and keep it traditional. And we don’t regret it at all! It also doesn’t hurt having the extra getting ready time!” You can see more from Amber and Travis’s wedding at Hawkesdene here!

Durham engagement, wedding, lifestyle photographer | Radian Photography | Hawkesdene | Andrews, North Carolina |

Durham engagement, wedding, lifestyle photographer | Radian Photography | Hawkesdene | Andrews, North Carolina |

Reason #2: You don’t actually have to SEE each other!

We have plenty of couples who choose to do what we call a “first listen.” Instead of actually seeing each other, we position them so that they can hold hands or hear each other, but aren’t actually able to see each other until the ceremony. This nod to tradition with a modern spin still allows you to have a few photos taken together before the ceremony, get some nerves out with each other before you walk down that aisle, and usually is very comforting for our couples. Some couples, like Catherine and Seth below, even choose to read cards or exchange gifts during this time.

Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill engagement, wedding, lifestyle photographer | Merrimon Wynne House Wedding Photography |

Here is what one of our couples, Michelle and Erik, said about their first listen: “Seeing each other before the ceremony was never an option in our planning. We both were way too excited to have that moment during the ceremony when the two us would lock eyes, see each other in outfits that matched together perfectly, and just enjoy the feeling of the commitment we were about to make in front of God, our family, and friends.  Although we knew we didn’t want to do a first look, we did want that “first moment” together. We thought, “What better way to start an AMAZING evening, than by sharing laughs together, holding hands, and ending our moment with Prayer?” We needed that first moment to get out the jitters, encourage each other, and to ensure each other that we were making the best decision EVER that day.” See more from their beautiful November wedding here!

Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill engagement, wedding, lifestyle photographer | Radian Photography | Greenville, North Carolina Wedding Photography | Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill engagement, wedding, lifestyle photographer | Radian Photography | Greenville, North Carolina Wedding Photography |

Reason #3: You’re getting married well BEFORE sunset in the heat of the summer

If you, like us, are getting married in one of the summer months when the sun sets late in the evening but your wedding is around 5 pm or so, congratulations! You are going to have plenty of time for portraits after your ceremony! And what’s even better? It’s probably going to be cooler then! If you’re just not sure about having a first look and you have plenty of daylight built into your day, then skip it. We will make sure we capture plenty of gorgeous portraits for you later in the evening and you can spend more time inside with your friends pre-ceremony if that’s what you prefer! (Remember that we can’t hold off rain, though! If the evening forecast is calling for showers, you might actually want to opt for a first look to avoid them and still get those beautiful couple portraits!)

bradford wedding bouquet

Keep in mind that this is your wedding day, and you get to make the choice that best suits you, your relationship, and your day! We are happy to help you make a decision! If you’re already married, we would love to hear from you below! Did you choose to have a first look on your wedding day?

bradford bridesmaid's dress

Choose your own adventure!

  1. Read reasons for why you should have a first look here!
  2. Want more wedding-related advice? Check these posts out!
  3. Want to see us in your inbox twice a month with some helpful tips? Sign up for our love letters here!




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