Meiosis is the specialized eukaryotic cell division that permits the halving of ploidy necessary for gametogenesis in sexually reproducing organisms. This involves a single round of DNA replication followed by two successive divisions. To ensure balanced segregation, homologous chromosome pairs must migrate to opposite poles at the first meiotic division and this means that they must recognize and pair with each other beforehand. Although understanding of the mechanisms by which meiotic chromosomes find and pair with their homologs has greatly advanced, it remains far from being fully understood. With some notable exceptions such as male Drosophila, the recognition and physical linkage of homologs at the first meiotic division involves homologous recombination. However, in addition to this, it is clear that many organisms, including plants, have also evolved a series of recombination-independent mechanisms to facilitate homolog recognition and pairing. These implicate chromosome structure and dynamics, telomeres, centromeres, and, most recently, small RNAs. With a particular focus on plants, we present here an overview of understanding of these early, recombination-independent events that act in the pairing of homologous chromosomes during the first meiotic division.