Photographers and newlyweds dish on the once-taboo concept of the first look.

Photographers and newlyweds dish on the once-taboo concept of the first look.

The first look: What once was a harbinger of misfortune is today accepted and even, on occasion, encouraged as an alternative to the traditional reveal-on-the-aisle moment.

"I wouldn't say it's the anti-tradition; I kind of feel like it's more the new tradition," says Kimberly Potterf of Kimberly Potterf Photography. She adds that about half of her clients are choosing to do a first look before the ceremony.

"A lot of times, it has to do with when their ceremony starts," she says. Couples who get married after daylight savings time ends in early November often find that darkness has fallen by the time the ceremony is over. "In that case, if they want to get any of these really pretty bright light or daylight photos … people will want to take care of that beforehand," Potterf says. "That's kind of their only option."

But even for spring and summer weddings, timing can be a factor when considering whether to have a first look.

"A lot of times, couples want to be part of their cocktail hour," explains Potterf. "They want to enjoy that time [with their guests] in lieu of a traditional receiving line, which feels very canned and exhausting."

Doing a first look-and subsequent portraits-before the ceremony can reduce the amount of time needed for formal photos after the ceremony. Often, a couple and the photographer can focus almost exclusively on portraits with family members post-ceremony, instead of squeezing the couple's portraits in as well.

"First glances do provide an opportunity to schedule more time, which can be really nice," says Benjamin Derkin of Derk's Works Photography. "I find that when people have more time and feel less rushed on their wedding day, they tend to be more relaxed. And when people are more relaxed, they are more themselves. And when they are more themselves, you get better pictures."

"On the flip side," he adds, "couples who are very nervous in front of people … a first glance would actually be really anxiety-filled for them, because it would cause them to force a smile and enjoy their wedding day under the pressure of the impending wedding."

More often than not, however, couples tend to struggle with the traditionalism of not seeing each other before the ceremony, Derkin says.

"All we hear is, it's bad luck," says Nancy Lambert of Lambert Photographs. But she's quick to point out that the superstition got its start in arranged marriages, when the betrothed were kept apart to prevent one from backing out of the agreement. "So it's not a sweet tradition that we love to uphold in our families," says Lambert. "It's from a different time."

That said, the decision ultimately comes down to what makes you, as a couple, feel most at ease.

"When couples make a decision that makes them feel most comfortable, that's the best decision," says Derkin, "because you're more easily able to uncover the authentic 'them,' both as a couple and as individuals."

Nattada Nimsuwan and Matthew Kessler

Married May 15, 2015

Matthew: "We just kind of wanted our [first look] to be more traditional and in the moment."

Nattada: "I was definitely nervous, but once you actually start walking … you get that butterfly feeling back again, you know, from your first date. That feeling came back. It was kind of nice to experience it again, because we've been together for so long."

Kimberly and Lee Harrington

Married June 11, 2016

Lee: "I'm a traditionalist by nature, and therefore [originally was against] doing a first look. In retrospect, I'm happy with the decision to do a first look, because on a day filled with many nervous feelings, having that moment provided us with an opportunity to 'exhale,' relax and, more importantly, have a special moment that will always be ours."

Kimberly: "I always wanted to do a first look. I got to watch my sister and brother-in-law's first look (from afar) and thought that it was such a beautiful, intimate moment for the couple to calm nerves and take each other in privately, before sharing it with everyone at the ceremony."