Want to do a first look? Toss the bouquet? How do you decide?

If you are at the point in the wedding planning process where you’re thinking about a first look, the processional, signature dances, and when all these things are going to happen, put your earbuds in and hit play! In this episode, we are talking about all the things you’ll want to think about when it comes to planning these parts of your wedding. 

Home » Blog » Podcast » Wedding Day Options: From First Look to Final Send Off

When it may be a good idea to have a first look (plus an “awwww” worthy alternative!)

Doing a “first look” before walking down the aisle has become a modern day tradition. Couples love it and for good reason too! Many couples choose to do a first look so that a good portion of the bride and groom pictures are taken before the ceremony as opposed to after. That way there’s a well planned flow for the guests to follow after the ceremony and into the reception.

Not only is doing a first look an excellent way to make the most out of your timeline, but it’s also a great way to settle your nerves before walking down the aisle, and it’s a special way to have a unique and intimate moment to yourselves before becoming official.

Still want the first moment you see each other to be when you’re walking down the aisle?

Do a “first touch” instead!

A first touch is a beautiful alternative that can give you the best of both options! You can ease the pressure and the anticipation of walking down the aisle by coordinating a special moment where you both can embrace one another or hold hands without actually seeing each other.

Wedding Day Options: First Look or First Touch
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

You still get the magic of that first moment (and it’s a stunning picture too!) This is also a great option if you want to write your own vows but don’t necessarily want to recite them in front of a large crowd. A first touch is a perfect opportunity for an intimate experience where you can privately exchange vows with one another.

Who’s walking down the aisle and how?

Traditionally, the groom and the officiant will discreetly enter and wait at the altar for the rest of the bridal party to walk down the aisle. Then everyone will stand for the bride’s grand entrance. But what if you have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen? Or what if you want grandparents to walk down the aisle? 

The first thing to keep in mind is that there are no rules. Just because there is a traditional way of doing something, doesn’t mean that that will work best for you or for the venue! What if you are walking up or down stairs to get to the aisle? (Something to consider!) 

Here are some other options that might work better for you!

  • Mother and Mother-in-Law of the Groom walk the groom down the aisle (awww!!) 
  • Groomsmen, officiant, and groom all walk down the aisle in a spaced-out single file line (A great option if you have an uneven bridal party!) 
  • Each bridesmaid walks by themselves for their own mini fashion moment 
  • Both parents walk the groom down the aisle
  • Both parents walk the bride down the aisle! 
  • Other close members of the family or friends walk grandparents (or anyone else!) down the aisle
  • Godparents walk down the aisle

Choose whatever works best for you! And you’ll have the chance to trial run the processional during the rehearsal dinner so you can always start with an idea and tweak it from there. 

How to get little ones down the aisle

If you have little ones in your wedding party (we’re talking 5 and under), make sure you take the time to consider how they are going to get to the altar. They may do just fine at the rehearsal but walking down the aisle with 200 people watching can be a little intimidating! So when it comes time to actually walk down the aisle, it may be a different story. 

So depending on your specific situation there’s a couple of different things you can do. You can designate someone to walk down the aisle with the ring bearer or flower girl. Or if you have both, you could send them down the aisle together as opposed to one at a time. You could also let them take a ride in a decorated wagon or battery-operated children’s car.

Wedding Day Options: Wedding processional. Flower girl
Photo by Enis Yavuz on Unsplash

Should the newlyweds eat dinner, privately as a couple, before they are introduced at the reception?

This is a fairly new trend in the wedding industry! And to be honest, it kind of makes sense! Unfortunately, sometimes the bride and groom don’t get a chance to eat! It’s common for guests to want to come up to the sweetheart table to give their personal congratulations right as you take a bite of that delicious looking piece of chicken or steak. (Especially if the sweetheart table is close to the buffet) 

Depending on who’s helping navigate the event, whether it’s a wedding planner, coordinator, (or a super on top of it DJ), you can recruit them to help run interference so that you aren’t constantly being interrupted in between bites. Having that conversation with someone is going to be the best way for you to join everyone else during dinner and still be able to eat. 

But if there’s room available at the venue and you have someone there that can serve you, it’s a great way to take a little break from the spotlight, eat in peace, and have another little moment for yourselves. 

And if you plan it well . . . you could still be at the sweetheart table for the toasts and your wedding guests would never even know!

When should you cut the cake and have your first dance?  

We’re going to say it again because it’s important. . . you can cut your cake and have your first dance whenever you want! However, you only have so much available time at the venue. 

(P.s. if you are newly engaged and still need to pick a venue, check out episode 001: 9 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Wedding Venue)

But if you want everything to be smooth sailing on your wedding day, it’s going to be really important that you are using all of that available time wisely and using it in a way that works best for you. There are so many things to consider and a lot of variables at play but that’s why this kind of stuff is so helpful to know!

Wedding Day Options: First dance and signature dances
Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

If you’ve planned a choreographed dance and you are really, really anxious about it, or if you have an early ceremony and it would be a little too early to have dinner right after, then it may work better for you to have the ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour, followed by introductions, and then right after the DJ announces, for the very first time, the husband and wife, you could then go right into the first dance, mother and groom, and father and bride dance. 

One of the biggest disadvantages of doing it this way is having potentially hangry guests. (We’ve all been there) Tip: Consider serving appetizers during cocktail hour if it’s still going to be a while before dinner is served.

When’s the best time for the maid of honor and best man speech?

In our professional opinion, there is a sweet spot for the maid of honor and best man speeches. We’ve found that the best time to give these toasts is after dinner when everyone is fed and happy.

We’ve seen it done before where the maid of honor and best man will give their speeches while tables are being dismissed for the buffet line and we’ve seen it done later in the evening when there’s been more opportunity for some liquid courage. Neither option ends up working out very well. Either guests are way too distracted or a little too tipsy. 

But if you do the speeches right after dinner, or right after cake, everyone’s sitting in their seats, everyone’s content and much more able to focus on the speaker.

When’s the best time to cut the cake?

There’s this old wives tale that says guests will leave after they’ve been served cake. So sometimes couples will decide to serve the cake closer to the end of the evening so that their guests will stay.

Wedding Day Options: When to cut the wedding cake
Photo by Kadyn Pierce on Unsplash

But there’s a lot of other logistics that can be affected if you decide to serve the cake later. For instance, if the cake is served after dinner or after toasts, the caterers can incorporate that portion into their workflow right after the dinner service. If it’s later, the caterers will most likely be packed up and heading out the door. 

It can also bring down the vibe of the dance party if you all of a sudden have to turn the lights back up, and put on a slow song so that you can cut the cake.

So we’ve found that the best time to cut the cake is shortly after dinner service or shortly after toasts for the bride and groom. (And guests won’t want to leave after cake if you’ve got a good DJ ; )

What about the final send off?

Another part of the night that can unintentionally signify the end of the event is the “final” send off for the bride and groom.

Wedding Day Options: Final send off
Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

A lot of times couples will plan a faux send off so that the photographer can capture that moment. Guests will line up with sparklers, ribbons, or toy bubble machines and it can make for a really great picture, but you want to make sure that guests know that the party isn’t over yet! 

So if you want that picture for your wedding album, make sure to either have the conversation with your DJ so that they can make it clear to all the guests that the night isn’t over. Or as an alternative, you can coordinate with immediate family to participate in the faux send off so that you have the people for the picture but none of the other guests have to leave the dance floor.

To sum it all up, all of these decisions are personal to you, your significant other, and your family.

We are here to help and to give suggestions but what’s most important is that you celebrate your wedding how you want to celebrate it.

What’s your biggest takeaway from this episode? Let us know in the comments below!

The Wedding Duo: A Wedding Planning Podcast

Listen (or watch!) the Wedding Duo on:

Or anywhere you listen to podcasts

Connect with us on:

The Wedding Duo: A Wedding Planning Podcast. Your go-to resource for wedding planning tools and ideas

Listen (or watch!) the Wedding Duo on:

Or anywhere you listen to podcasts

Connect with us on:

The Wedding Duo: A Wedding Planning Podcast. Your go-to resource for wedding planning tools and ideas
Wedding Day Options: From First Look to Final Send Off

Wedding Day Options: From First Look to Final Send Off



Grab your free wedding day checklist here!




After 10 years in the wedding business, we know what it takes to plan a wedding without overlooking any details. We’ll help you do the same.

Wedding advisors for the DIY couples

We're Serena & Dominic


Let's Get Social


Grab your free wedding day checklist here!

Download Your Free Guide!