With apologies to William Shakespeare for our title, today we tackle the tricky question of The First Look. You may think there’s nothing tricky about The First Look because it’s always been a wedding tradition, right? Not so fast – we’ve been living here on Planet Wedding for so long that WE remember when The First Look first started to become a Thing. Back in the days of yore, for the groom to see his bride before the ceremony was unthinkable. And to some, it still is. Which is fine too.

So, what to do? As with all things wedding, it’s down to one thing and one thing only – what the couple want and what makes them happiest and most comfortable. There are pros and cons on both sides of the coin however, and people can get pretty passionate about this, so we are pulling up our Big Girl britches and wading bravely into the fray with some observations that come from years of experience.

We admit, we LOVE The First Look. In purely practical terms it allows the couple to do photos and get them out of the way, without sacrificing mingling time with guests apres ceremony. It means they don’t miss the cocktail hour which is such a perfect time for chatting and visiting with rarely-seen guests from far afield. It also tends to soothe frazzled nerves and allows the couple to truly anticipate the ceremony with excitement untinged with trepidation.

In emotional terms, it means a magical and emotional moment that can be shared by the couple with their wedding party, or kept exclusively as a private and intimate moment for just themselves. Or they can include parents too. We have been moved to tears by countless First Looks when the expression on the groom’s face was worth pure gold (see our photo gallery!). And we have found that the walk down the aisle, even when the groom already knows what his beautiful bride looks like, is somehow still every bit as special.

On the other, equally valid side, some couples may prefer to share that ‘first time he saw her’ moment with all of their guests as the bride appears at the end of the aisle. Cue pounding hearts from bride and groom. Those more traditional ‘first look’ moments are every bit as beautiful and enchanting. A couple may also have to contend with very traditional families who are dismayed or even horrified at the suggestion the couple see each other before the ceremony. Some still believe it is bad luck. In that case, a couple may decide to soothe worried parent or grandparent feelings and graciously bow to tradition. So yes, while we do confess to a major soft spot for The First Look, we also insist that it is up to the couple to make the final decision, and that the only ‘right’ decision is what feels right for them.

We compiled some of our favourite First Look moments, traditional and non-traditional, in our Gallery. We hope you enjoy it.