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  • Writer's pictureb Wed Charleston

Should We do a First Look or an Aisle Reveal?

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Perhaps the choice between a First Look and an Aisle Reveal is an easy one for you (yay!), but for others the decision can be difficult. Hopefully this information will help guide you to YOUR best choice.


Before we get started, let’s define what each means:

  • An Aisle Reveal is the traditional first glimpse of each other as one person is walking down the aisle.

  • A First Look is when the couple sees each other before the ceremony.


You invest a lot of time into looking your most beautiful/handsome on your wedding day, so it is easy to understand why the moment of first seeing - and being seen by - your true love is so important! This magical moment of seeing your partner dressed and ready to say “I do” is something you will never want to forget.


Privacy versus a Shared Experience:


On your wedding day there will be a moment when every eye is on you and the air is thick with expectation as your guests’ heads swivel to watch both of you on opposite ends of the aisle.


Does the idea of standing in the spotlight as your guests share the moment when you first see each other sound like a dream come true? Or does the idea of experiencing that vulnerable moment under the watchful eyes of your guests sound like a nightmare?


No matter how small the guest list, there will be BIG emotions that fill the day!


If either you or your partner struggle with anxiety, then odds are you find comfort in each other (probably one of the reasons you have chosen this person to spend your life with, amiright?!). If you can shatter the stress of the day with one touch of your partner’s hand or a look in their eyes, then do it!! Rather than letting your nerves build to a point that walking down the aisle feels like walking the plank, allow yourself a quick reminder of what the day is truly about. Once you are refocused, the butterflies will take flight and you’ll be ready to walk past your guests without any fears holding you back.


The Moment After:


Perhaps you have spent a lot of time imagining what it would look and feel like to do a First Look or an Aisle Reveal...but have you thought about the moments that follow?


After a First Look you have a moment to do whatever feels natural - a hug, a kiss, a twirl to show off the dress, share a quiet intimate moment or read vows to each other that you don’t want to say in front of your guests! This private time will allow you to focus on why this is YOUR person and to create a memory that only the two of you will share!


With an Aisle Reveal your eyes will lock on each other as the distance between you shrinks. Once that gap has closed and you are standing beside each other the officiant begins to speak. The ceremony has started and there is no time for words or hugs. Then the ceremony ends and it is time for photos. Those first thoughts and feelings you experienced on opposite ends of the aisle will fade before you ever get the chance to say (or hear) them. And while this might sound like an obvious endorsement for the First Look, it could also be a blessing to the bride or groom hoping to escape the need to say “the right thing”. With an Aisle Reveal you’re off the hook!


Showing True Feelings:


The privacy of a First Look allows a shy bride or groom the opportunity to experience and express more genuine emotions. Rather than holding back tears in front of your guests, there is plenty of time to cry and then freshen your face before the ceremony! And if you feel that having an audience would prompt you to react a certain way, then a First Look will allow you to remove that expectation and truly be in the moment!


On the other hand, if you think that being alone with a photographer would make the moment feel less candid, then a mid-action photo while walking down the aisle might make you more comfortable.


The Photo Experience:


Most wedding photographers prefer First Looks. Here are a few reasons why:


  • Both people are close enough to be captured in a single photo rather than on opposite ends of the aisle. Unless there are two photographers, it isn’t possible to capture the reactions of both people during an Aisle Reveal.

  • The photographer can make sure everything is staged perfectly - ideal lighting and camera angles. With an Aisle Reveal, there is minimal control over these elements.

  • The ability to choose the perfect location! This could be in a different area of the venue or on the rooftop or staircase of your hotel…so many options! With an Aisle Reveal, the backdrop will be the aisle/altar (same as all the ceremony photos). Also, once the walk begins, there is no way to pause things if a large group of photobombers walk into the background.

  • Being able to capture some photos of the wedding couple when both are looking their best/freshest. With an Aisle Reveal, first comes the ceremony, then guest photos, and then the couple’s portraits. By this time you may be emotional from the ceremony, your feet might be sore from standing, your hair may be flattened from all the hugs, your makeup may be fading from the heat or kisses, your dress/suit may have picked up some wrinkles or dirt, your flowers are a bit less perky… If you want to capture some photos of the two of you when everyone looks their best, then a First Look is the way to go. (On the flip side, if you are concerned that taking any photos before the ceremony means you won’t be your freshest for when your guests see you, then skip the First Look and keep that dress spotless until you walk down the aisle!)

So are there any perks to an Aisle Reveal when it comes to photography? Sure! If your timeline is tight and you need to move quickly through the ceremony, then an Aisle Reveal is much faster! We won't need to set up the First Look or allow time for a private moment. We won't need to change locations from the First Look to the ceremony. With a short shoot, an Aisle Reveal can be a better use of your photo time.


Alternatives to a First Look:


After reading all of this are you even less sure of which option you want? Well how about an alternative that meets somewhere in the middle? A First Touch!


With a First Touch you skip the pre-wedding peek, but still share an intimate moment before the ceremony. Standing around a corner or back-to-back, you can have a moment together without seeing each other. This is a great time to exchange letters, pray together, or just hold hands! This can relieve some pre-wedding jitters while also building anticipation and creating a fun photo op!


And let’s not forget the opportunity for First Looks other than between the wedding couple. A First Look between a bride and father, groom and mother, bride and brother, groom and daughter, etc. can be just as magical!


Final thoughts:


If you have any questions before making your decision, let me know! And if your question is “But isn’t it bad luck to see each other before the ceremony?” take a moment to look up the origins of the no-peek tradition!


And finally… While wedding guests often feel they are entitled to share in the special moment when the couple first see each other, they are wrong! (Yeah, I said it!) The couple does not owe this moment to anyone but themselves!! It is theirs to keep private or share as THEY choose! Just know that if you decide that a private First Look is the right choice for you, but still want your guests to think you are having an Aisle Reveal, your secret is safe with me!


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