The place for wedding tips, photography do's, ideas for making your wedding day a dream, and best of all: the stories of beautiful people I’ve had the honor of working with! Don't want to miss a thing? Join my email list below to receive these posts straight to your inbox.

welcome to ThE

Kara Loryn Blog







A couple shares a first look before their wedding.

Let’s talk About It: Catholic Weddings and First Looks


Tradition & History

The tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding day is often assumed to be a Catholic tradition. However, you might be surprised by its origins! This tradition dates back to the time of arranged marriages and was aimed at preventing the groom from rejecting the bride based on appearance. I don’t know about you, but this communicates one huge differentiation in the perspective of this former marriage ceremony vs. the Catholic marriage ceremony. The wedding ceremony of that time was primarily viewed as a transaction of persons while the Catholic sacrament of matrimony defines it as the union of two people in Christ. (To get a solid understanding of the beautiful Catholic teaching and perspective of marriage, check out CCC 1601-1658).

While the newer “first look” tradition may be something your family members or parents think is taboo or off limits, the Catholic Church does not have any specific teachings against or for it. Now with that out of the way, let’s consider why a First Look might be a perfect addition to your wedding day timeline!

Our Personal Experience

John and Kara share a moment during their first look on their wedding day.

When preparing for our own wedding, we had assumed the common belief regarding the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony. It wasn’t until our own wedding photographers recommended a “first look” that we began to consider the idea. Despite initial reservations about potentially going against perceived “Catholic tradition,” their reassurance that it wouldn’t diminish the moment of walking down the aisle resonated with us, prompting further research and ultimately our decision to incorporate it into our wedding day.

Looking back, opting for a first look put less pressure on us, and truly enhanced the moment when I walked down the aisle. It was a beautiful opportunity for us to prepare our hearts together before the ceremony. We were able to calm each other’s nerves, exchange letters and gifts, and most importantly pray together. Rather than getting caught up in how John would react when I walked down the aisle or what I looked like in my dress, we were focused on what we were choosing to do when we saw each other at either end of the aisle – vow to love one another as Christ loves with the grace of His strength and mercy.

Benefits of a First Look

A Private Moment Together

The hustle and bustle of getting ready in the morning can often leave you feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. After the chaos of flying make-up brushes or frantically learning how to properly put on a tie, taking time for a first look allows you to pause and center yourselves together as a couple. It provides an opportunity for prayer, laughter, and shared moments of intimacy before the ceremony begins. This can aid you in alleviating pre-wedding jitters and remind you that you are making this decision together as you prepare to stand before the Lord.

A Chance to Pray to God Together

In the midst of the excitement and nerves, a first look offers you a private moment to come together in prayer. Standing hand in hand, you are able to ask for God’s blessings on your impending union, praying for strength, guidance, and grace to embark on this new journey together. It sets a tone of reverence and spiritual significance for the rest of the day as well as the rest of your lives together!

Relieve “Performance Anxiety”

Picture it – the bride begins walking down the aisle and suddenly friends and family are seen turning their heads back and forth from the groom to the bride anxiously awaiting that one beautiful tear streaming down his cheek.

Understandably, this can give some grooms anxiety knowing that they aren’t that emotional and may let people down. When you opt for a first look, those nerves and anticipation are greatly diminished since you get to have that moment of seeing your beautiful bride for the first time privately (well almost privately if you want it captured on camera)!

Frankly, this was one of the primary reasons that John and I decided to opt for a first look. We had no idea that it would actually allow John to relax as I was coming down the aisle and guess what?! He teared up!

More Time for Portraits

Alright, it’s time to address the elephant in the room – “Are you just encouraging first looks because it helps your photography timeline”? Well, yes but ONLY because I firmly believe that the previous points are more important than your photography timeline. That said, I’m certain that the majority of wedding photographers would love extra time to take your portrait photos and if you love your photographers photos, it is likely because you want those beautiful portraits as well!

I also think it might be important to note that having this time earlier in the day may allow you some extra time at your cocktail hour where you can enjoy the company of your guests. It’s really a win-win-win!


Wrapping up, it’s clear that while the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding had some interesting origins, in the Catholic tradition, seeing one another can be a beautiful experience. Our own experience with a first look showed us firsthand how it deepened our bond and added an extra layer of intimacy to our special day. Whether you want to call it a “first look” or something else – having an intimate moment together before you make your vows can be one of the most sacred memories of your day and prioritizing these moments can truly enhance not only your wedding day but the rest of your lives together.

Ready to chat more about how a first look can fit into your wedding day photography? Let’s hop on a call and discuss it further!


Also, shoutout to Bri and Wes Photography for our wedding photos and capturing these cherished memories for us!

April 24, 2024

Can Catholics Do a First Look?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *