March 10, 2020

Choosing Between a First Look or a Traditional Aisle Reveal

Catholic wedding photographers Katzie and Ben highlights from 2019

We love assisting couples with planning their wedding day timeline in a way that allocates enough time to capture all of the details without feeling rushed.

Choosing to do a planned first look or a traditional aisle reveal is both a personal preference for your vision of your wedding day and a matter of logistics.

From our perspective, we don’t have a particular preference either way, but wanted to share with you some reasons a couple often chooses to do one or the other so that you can make the right decision for your big day.

4 Reasons for a First Look

  1. The ceremony location only allows you to be at the site for 15-30 minutes after the ceremony. Many churches have evening mass, confession, or other services that take place after your wedding which  requires couples, their family, and their guests to leave the building promptly. When this happens it leaves very little time for family formals inside the church. If that is part your vision, be sure to take this into account. Doing a first look gives couples the chance to complete family formals in advance when the ceremony location has more time flexibility and still buffer time for being out of sight while guests arrive.
  2. Mindset during the day. Before the ceremony, there are still a lot of logistics and last minute details that are coming together. When the bulk of your photos are done beforehand, you can easily make the mental shift from planning to celebrating. This allows couples to be more present with one another, their wedding party, and their guests.
  3. More time at cocktail hour. Once you’re married, its time to celebrate! We still like to carve out time to take newlywed portraits and finish any wedding party combinations that they weren’t captured beforehand. However, it can all be done within a shorter time frame that doesn’t leave guests waiting long at the cocktail hour. As a bonus, it also gives you more time to be there to enjoy it!
  4. More time together and a private moment alone. Your time on a wedding day is generously given to everyone else. Couples give their time away to the hair stylist, the wedding party, their family, their guests, and often do not schedule much time to be together alone on the wedding day. A first look gives couples a chance to pray, read letters to one another, talk, shake the nerves, and share their excitement together before they officially become husband and wife. If you choose to forego a first look, be sure to carve out time later on in the day to spend time together just the two of you.

Groom sees his bride walking down the aisle

4 Reasons for a Traditional Aisle Reveal

  • Emotional Factor. Couples love the giant tug on their heartstrings and the adrenaline rush when the groom finally sees his bride coming down the aisle. The music shifts, the doors open, the guests stand up, and there she is. Now, it’s really happening. It is an authentic one-time moment that leads you straight into what you came here for: joining your lives to one anothers with no more delay.
  • Tradition.  Following in the footsteps of our parents by sharing in this big tradition is something that is very sacred. If it is what you have always dreamed about, then it will be well worth the wait.
  • Morning or early afternoon weddings. Our couples who chose an early ceremony time on a Saturday can have a seamless experience going from getting ready to getting married. A traditional aisle reveal in these situations maintains lots of flexibility for family, wedding party, and newlywed portraits while also enjoying your reception.
  • Letter exchange or Praying together. You can still carve out special ways to talk to one another, pray together, and share your hopes for marriage even if you do not want to see each other before the ceremony. This is a way to build that last minute excitement and shake the nerves before the ceremony.

Couple praying together before wedding mass

Manage Expectations as a Couple

What happens on the actual wedding day may not be what you were expecting and that is okay! It may even be better than what you hoped for.

Each person has a different reaction to seeing their loved on their wedding day. They may tear up, smile, or have so much excitement and butterflies that their face does not appear to be showing much emotion externally.

Take into account the grooms natural personality. Is he a naturally expressive person? Does he alter how he shows emotions when others are present?

Be sure to at least talk about your hopes and expectations ahead of time as part of open communication as a couple whichever way you choose.


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