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My [m31] fiance [f30] wants us to have a “first look” at our wedding, and I feel uncomfortable with it, but don’t want to disappoint her.

So first of all, I’m of the mind that my wedding is more for her than it is for me. I’d get married at an Applebee’s, genuinely, I love Applebee’s. I do think nice weddings are cool, but it’s just not a big thing for me. It’s a big thing for her though, and I’m ok with that and want to make her dream come true.

My fiance is all about the idea of “first looks” (a photo of someone’s first time seeing the bride, usually somewhere around the venue), she wants one with me, her dad, her bridesmaids and even my groomsmen (????). Personally, I think the only first look that matters in a wedding is when the two first see each other at the aisle, but again I want to make her happy.

My issue arises with the fact that it feels like she really wants me to cry when I see her.. (she’s said it jokingly, but from other context I know she’s definitely not). I don’t ever cry, and I get really annoyed when I feel like I’m being forced to do something overly theatrical (mommy issues), but I want to make this thing happen for her. I just know I won’t look anywhere near as happy as these guys in the videos she watches, specifically because I’m supposed to look as happy as them.

If it were the more traditional, I see her for the first time walking down the aisle, I probably would look as happy as she wants me to.

I’d also like to state that she is the opposite of a “Bridezilla” and if I told her all of this she would immediately cancel any plans she had for “first looks”, but I want to do this thing for her because she’s all about it. Just kinda overwhelmed by wedding planning, and this has been nagging at me.


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  1. Talking with your SO about things you’re uncomfortable with is something that will happen for the rest of your life. She may be disappointed, but you’ll be relieved. Someday she’ll do the same, and you’ll remember this moment and love her more for it.

    Weddings are fucking stressful. Many of us look back at their wedding as one of the most stressful days in their life instead of the most fun – it is a party after all. This may be mostly for her, but you’re a part of it too. And if there’s something you don’t like you have a say in it.

    This is a perfectly reasonable place for you to stand your ground.

  2. I think you can tell her that you feel a lot of pressure to react a certain way to this “first look” and so now you are thinking more about how to react so she will be happy than you are about actually seeing her.

    A first look can be great, because the actual wedding ceremony can feel very overwhelming and the bride is worried about tripping down the aisle and there are a lot of people and distractions. A first look can remove a lot of that pressure and audience, so you get to have a moment of quiet, and of course you get the pictures too. I only say this to say that there are pros and cons to both approaches (first look versus seeing her the first time walking down the aisle).

    It is also your wedding, so you can voice your preferences as well, that you actually like the idea of seeing her for the very first time coming down the aisle, and then you two discuss and agree to a compromise.

    But if what you are most worried about is reacting in a way that makes her happy, then you talk about that. You want to react organically, and you certainly don’t want her to be disappointed before the wedding, so she needs to take the pressure off you as to what a valid reaction is so that you both can actually enjoy the moment.

  3. So I had wanted to do a first look with my husband (we got married 10/1), and the reason i wanted a private time like that is that walking down the aisle in a big long dress, in usually shoes that are not fully broken in, possibly involving stairs, or flower petals, or a million other distractions (like dozens to hundreds of family and friends) is very public, and oddly stressful… It’s hard (as the walking bride) to really focus on the reason you’re doing all this..

    I couldn’t tell you what my husband’s face looked like when I got to the bottom of the stairs, because I was focused on transitioning from the stairs to the floor, in a full length gown and train, and not falling on my face..

    The first look would have allowed us to take a moment and let me be *present* for the first time he sees me in my gown and everything.. It lets me have a moment to take in HIM in his tux and looking all handsome….

    As it turned out, the room I got ready in turned into the chaotic bridal party everything room, so he ended up basically around while I was getting dressed, and it wasn’t really relevant.. But the IDEA behind the first look between the bride & groom is actually (at least from my perspective) allows her to be “there” for that aisle moment, rather than being focused on 10,000 other things that are happening for her in that moment..

    Note: I REALLY REALLY do not get the other first looks, but the one with you makes sense to me. 😀

  4. I think you need to start being way more honest with her. Passively allowing your fiance to plan a wedding 100% her way with none of your thoughts or feelings on the matter considered, leads to resentment. You’re seeing it in real time right now. Where is that energy from her making sure you’re getting the wedding of your dreams too?

    Sure, wanting her to have a great time is reasonable but part of that is also managing her expectations effectively. Ignoring your own needs and feeling pressured to perform inauthentically is going to lead to hurt on both ends because your unhappiness will seep out. Being real with her now is actually about proactively protecting her from serious disappointment on an already emotionally charged day.

    Imbalance leads to shitty feelings like the ones you’re describing here right now. Just because you don’t have a massive Pinterest vision for your wedding doesn’t mean it’s not a hugely important day for you too or that your thoughts and feelings don’t matter.

    Ps. The groomsmen first look idea sounds seriously cringe. I’d axe that.

  5. First looks offer a benefit for scheduling because you can do more pictures. It also gives a moment for the two people getting married to have a moment together. I am planning on having one because my fiance is the person who calms me down, and I know I’m going to need that before the ceremony begins.

    Even if you’d be happy about getting married in Applebee’s, this celebration still involves you and you get to have a say. Think about how your values are going to reflected in this. Even if you don’t care about the flowers or whatever, take some time to reflect and contribute to the parts that are important to you. My fiance did not jump on wedding planning right away, but once I narrowed down the daunting list, he has been able to take the lead on finding and communicating with the officiant, which has been hugely helpful. Wedding planning means you need to work as a team.

  6. I knew someone who legit did get married at an Applebee’s. They were very young so it *might* have been ironic but the bride plays things close to the chest, so I never got a real sense of the point of … Applebee’s: The Venue.

  7. From a practical perspective, doing first look photos and pictures of the wedding party/immediate family before the ceremony cuts significantly down on the time you need to take during the wedding reception to do those photos. If you get 30% of the pictures out of the way, you’ll have more time to enjoy the cocktail hour. From a recent Mother of the Bride.

  8. My husband and I did a first look, and I also did one with my dad. To me, it is really about setting up the logistics for the rest of the day. If you do a first look, you can knock out more photos before the ceremony, and enjoy more of your reception (including the cocktail hour).

    You need to talk to your fiancee about which is more important — getting more pre-ceremony photos, or having a more emotional reaction from you. I think *most* grooms are more emotional seeing their bride coming down the aisle than tapping them on the shoulder. But many also get emotional “down the aisle” even if it isn’t the first time seeing the bride.

    A nice alternative that makes for lovely photos, if you want to save your first look for “down the aisle”, is a first touch. The couple will stand back to back or around a corner, and maybe read prepared letters for some pre ceremony, no spoilers photos. Maybe that would appeal to your fiancee?

    Either way, I would try to tone down her anticipation for people’s reactions during these “reveal” moments. Life isn’t Instagram, and they will likely disappoint her if she’s expecting everyone to cry.

  9. “I’m looking forward to the first look, but you have to promise me you’re going to stop watching that stuff on TikTok because it kind of feels like I’m supposed to act. I want it to be real and I don’t want to feel like I’m supposed to perform.”

  10. Talk to her. Tell her you are afraid of disappointing her if she doesn’t get the reaction she wants and the last thing you want to do is hurt or disappoint her on your special day. I assume she knows about your issues so just explain to her that you don’t want to be worried about these and your mother and disappointing her etc that she is the most important person in your life and you want it to be perfect for her.

    A successful relationship needs communication, honesty and compromise on both sides, so you are having the wedding she wants to keep her happy so could she compromise on this bit.


  11. Tell her you’d like to give your genuine reaction – which is probably going to be overwhelming happiness knowing that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with a gorgeous and wonderful woman.

    I mean.. what is she going to say to that? “No. I need you to cry.”?

  12. Full disclosure, I’m a guy and I’m happily married. I did the “first look” situation and I’m all about it. I tell you this because you should know that I’m logically biased about the situation.

    Having said that, I don’t agree with your logic. Why would you have a significantly (I added this word intentionally) more emotional reaction to seeing her walk down the aisle in her dress than seeing her in a “surprise” situation for pictures? At the end of the day, you’re seeing your bride in her dress for the first time knowing why she’s wearing said dress.

    Having said that, if you want the first “reveal” to be coming down the aisle, you should communicate it. You quite likely won’t win that argument, but you should still express your feelings.

    As for your reaction, you simply can’t help how you react. Every bride wants their groom to tear up. But your reaction is your reaction. What’s important is that you’re happy. That’s really what you both want. Not that you’re told or forced to be happy; that you’re happy. In the moment, you might very well just be. Good luck.

  13. Don’t fake anything. I’ve been with my wife for 13 years, love her to bits, didn’t even come close to crying at the wedding. Yet I tear up at cheesy movies and such. Don’t know why, not worth overanalyzing.

  14. This is the first time I’m hearing about the first look and idk it sounds so obviously contrived. It’s one thing for the bride and groom (I guess) but the groomsmen?! Sounds very conceited at best and delusional at worst.

    You say she’s the opposite of a bridezilla so be honest with her. This is the biggest day of your lives, not your groomsmen’s lives, not even close.

    I’ll believe you that she’s not a bridezilla so maybe she needs to look at this situation objectively and you should help her. Honestly, you saying that your first look down the aisle sounds perfectly romantic

  15. Can I explain some benefits of the first look, from someone working in the wedding industry?

    It greatly helps with the timeline – you’re able to get all your portraits done pre ceremony so that you can go straight into cocktail hour/reception and have some fun! If you wait until after the ceremony, you will be fighting daylight and potentially keeping guests waiting while you take those portraits afterwards.

    More than “a photo” (because you’ll get that one way or another), it’s a private moment to share with the love of your life amidst a very chaotic day where you will have very little time alone. Yes, your photographer will be there to capture the look on *both* of your faces when you see each other for the first time, but it’s moreso about sharing a moment to yourselves to talk and laugh and really soak in the day!

    Totally fine if you don’t cry. My husband definitely didn’t cry! We took the opportunity to take some fun “jumping on a hotel bed in a black suit and white gown” pics, played some cards, smooched in the elevator, etc 🙂

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  17. NTA, but the benefit of a first look is that sometimes you can get a lot of your individual and group photos knocked out before the wedding so you can go straight to the reception and enjoy it.

    Please don’t assume this will be the case, bring it up with fiancée. Ask her when she wants photos done.

    Also, you might be surprised at your reaction when you see her, plan on telling her how beautiful she is and how lucky you are.

  18. Did a first look and all our bridal/bridal party pics before our ceremony. It allowed us to have a more intimate moment, get all the staged photos done, amd it took some of the anxiety and stress put of the rest of the day allowing us to enjoy the moments more. It also allowed us and our bridal party/parents to enjoy the cocktail hour.
    Just food for thought

  19. Don’t feel guilty that you didn’t cry when you see her – just because some men cry when they see their soon-to-be wives walk down the aisle, does not mean you have to. I damn well know my bf ain’t going to when we get married and that’s fine because I know that he is beyond happy already!

  20. We had a super small wedding reception after eloping with a largely informal first look, and I honestly expected my husband to cry since he did when we got married for real. Instead I have these freaking amazing photos of his face lit up like a Christmas tree with pure joy and then laughing as he came to hug me, and they’re so, so much better than if he’d cried.

    Point being: your reaction will be what it is! And while she might want you to cry in theory, she really just wants to have the moment you see your bride all dolled up captured forever. Don’t stress too much, really. And congratulations!!!

  21. If it gives you a different perspective – besides the photos, a first look is also one of the very limited times you’ll actually be able to see and speak to her without a ton of people around you on your wedding day. It might be nice to have a private moment to relax and talk and soak it in. You can ask the photographer to leave for a moment. She will have to get over the idea of you crying if you’re not that kind of person, but you can still have a nice moment.

    You’re focused on when she comes down the aisle but – a lot of brides I know say they spent their walk down the aisle focusing on everything BUT their groom. You get to just stand there, she’s (probably/possibly) in heels and a big dress but also holding a bouquet so she can’t hold the dress up so she’s worried about tripping and she’s trying to keep perfect pace with her dad so neither of them are dragging the other AND she has all of your friends and family staring at her while she’s doing all of this so she has to look pretty and perfect. Now, will all of these things apply to everyone? No, but I bet at least a couple will in most cases lol.

  22. Every actual first look I’ve witnessed in person (bride & groom, bride & father) has been extremely awkward. It has been so consistently awkward across styles, ages, and ceremonies that I’m convinced the people selling it as emotional and touching are actors.

  23. I promise you she does want your input. Honestly, I would just tell her exactly what you put in this post. Then you can find out from the source if she’s just wanting an intimate moment with no distractions, or if she is hoping for a cry.

  24. Did a first look with my now wife just her and the protographers. They did a great job doing their job but respecting our space. It was great and a moment for ourselves, we got rid of the nerves and felt just her and me with our emotions. Definitely worth. I suggest you doing but on your own terms. You need nothing but yourselves and maybe take couple of pictures for the memories, but something you both feel confortable with

  25. The wedding-industrial complex has given people brain worms. They are more focused on the photos than the actual event. And more focused on the wedding than the marriage.

    OP I want to say this could be a red flag, but I have now seen SO many people lose their minds from weddings, that I think it happens even to normal people.

  26. I am a woman and agree with you. My husband didn’t see me until I began my walk down the aisle. He did get choked up at how beautiful I was and the thought of how soon I’d become his wife. I don’t think he would have had the same intensity of feeling showing up to a photo shoot we were trying to fit into a jam packed day

  27. Maybe you all can compromise?

    My husband is definitely not a crier and hates being the center of attention, while I wanted that show of emotion. However, I know he would never be comfortable in front of others. So the morning of we got coffee, in our PJs, and went somewhere special in our town just us two. We read our personal views to each other and even though I wasn’t betting on it he actually did tear up. Something that was only possible because we shared this special moment, alone.

    Later at the wedding I had the photographer take a photo of him as I walked down the aisle, and he was smiling (still one of my favorite pictures), but it was nothing like the emotion he showed that morning.

    At the end of the day he was able to open up in a private setting and I still got a great picture to look back on. Also the personal, private vows I get to re read all the time and remember that he actually did show some emotion.

  28. So the primary reason first looks are a thing is the logistics of the wedding day.

    I really didn’t want to see my wife until she walked down the aisle because that was going to be THE moment, yknow?

    But think about all the pictures that get taken. Of the two of you. Of your family. Of the bridal party. That stuff takes HOURS. So now you’re doing all that between the ceremony and reception and your wedding guests are bored out of their minds.

    The first look makes it so you can do all your photos before the wedding, and then once the ceremony actually starts… you actually just get to enjoy your day. You get to go right from the ceremony to the reception and just have fun with all your guests and really enjoy the moment with your wife.

    I’m SO glad we did it this way as opposed to getting married and then being ushered around for a lot of photos.

    THAT ALL BEING SAID… I echo what most others here have said in that you need to talk to your bride-to-be ASAP. Lower expectations so this isn’t eating away at you. It’s good to get used to having these kinds of conversations, marriage is full of them.

    I’m guessing after you talk it out, you can get your photographer in the mix and work out something that can be both special AND relaxed.

  29. Wedding photographer here. 500plus weddings under my belt. Do NOT do the first look with your bride. There is something very climactic about seeing each other for the first time when she walks down the aisle. If you are going to show any emotion, it will be much more likely to happen coming down the aisle (due to the buildup and everything) vs. “first look”.

  30. The “first look” photoshoot is a really popular thing these days. She just wants some cute pictures.

    Definitely don’t make yourself cry or anything, and you can tell her you don’t want to, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to just do the pictures. And yeah, she’s probably going a little overboard with wanting all the groomsmen there. Most first look photos I’ve seen just involve the groom and the parents. They can be really cute, candid pictures that don’t feel as formal and stuffy as those down-the-aisle photos where everyone is sucking in their stomachs and standing rigid, lol.

  31. Do the first look. She’s too distracted walking down the aisle between her dress, the guests, etc…. I do worry she is building it up too much. Great chance to have a convo about *your* feelings. You are worried your reaction won’t live up to her expectations. This is a valid concern.

    You could suggest, if at all possible, the bride and photographer surprise you. If you have a reveal at 1:30 you’re focused on it and worried about how you will react. You’re too much in your own head. I think if you’re just hanging out with your groomsman and she walks in when you’re not expecting it you might get a more genuine reaction from yourself.

    Best wishes and early congrats to you two!!!

  32. Sounds like she’s going a bit overboard on the first look thing but I understand wanting to have a first look for you and her. Maybe even her and her dad because that’s sweet. But the groomsmen and bridesmaids… that seems like a bit much. Perhaps talk to her about tamping it down a bit and also explain that you are not an emotional person but it in no way changes how you feel about her or reflects on her dress or anything else. Just make her understand that this is not gonna be “instagram reel highlight” material but it can still be a special moment for the two of you.

    Maybe reiterate that you want it to be just you and her for the first look (and the photographer) and no other onlookers that would take away from the moment or put more pressure on you to respond in a certain way.

  33. DUDE. Do it. It’s a (hopefully) once in a lifetime occurrence and the memories will last forever. And it’s a way to settle nerves before saying “I DO”.

    And also, it’s as much about you as it is about her, it’s about the two of you, nothing/no one else matters.

  34. Hey my dude, I was in the same boat. Just got official married last march. My wife told me that I better cry during the ceremony. I told her that there were no promises because I have no idea if I will. She eventually understood that I might not cry and they she was ok with it. But when it came to the time, I balled my eyes out while reading my vows. It was to the point that my groomsmen started to tear up along with the officiant.

    My words of advice, write vows that come straight from the heart. And don’t wait until the last minute to write them. Start working on them now if you haven’t. And if you can’t think of anything, that’s ok. Look up examples online. There is plenty of resources.

    As for the first look, we were planning to have one before the ceremony, but it was raining. So we had to skip that and just wait for her to walk down the isle.

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