The First Look - from a Photographer’s Perspective.
What exactly is a “first look” you may be asking. A first look is when a couple chooses to privately (or occasionally publicly) see each other in the moments before the wedding ceremony. These couples chose to buck the wedding tradition that states they will not see each other before the ceremony, and instead spend a few intimate moments seeing each other for the first time in a more controlled and often private moment.
As a photographer I ADORE capturing this event. Ideally we shoo away all spectators and allow the couple to spend a few moments taking each other in, embracing, connecting and sharing a few minutes of calm before the storm. This is the perfect time to capture those heartfelt intimate photos of the couple together - before the often hectic family and group portraits that take place later.
There are a few key benefits to incorporating a first look into your wedding timeline. First, it allows us to choose a location that is not only private, but has ideal lighting. This allows me, as your photographer, to control one of the key elements of your day and ensure you get those meaningful couple’s portraits that are so desirable. These are the photos that most people will consider “wall art” worthy - they are the ones that will pull at the heartstrings of the couple and their family whenever they see them hanging on their walls.
Second, it shortens the time that family and friends must wait or entertain themselves after the ceremony while we do formal portraits. With so many portraits to complete, it’s wonderful to be able to streamline that process a bit by doing the intimate couple photos ahead of the ceremony before family and friends have arrived.
Third, it tends to calm the nerves. The wedding day jitters are no joke! Seeing each other a little before the ceremony allows you to shed those tears, cheer in excitement, take a few deep breaths together and work out a bit of that nervous energy before walking down the aisle in full view of your guests and family.
Lastly, a first look allows you to truly appreciate each other. So much love and energy went into planning your wedding day - and it can all go by in a blur. Taking time alone, early in your day allows you to really look and appreciate each other, and all that preparation. The shoes, the hair...the perfect accent pieces. Before the day takes its toll you get to appreciate how your loved one looks - you may never see them dressed this lavishly again! Take a few moments to soak that in and appreciate each other’s efforts.
The best way to plan your first look is to contact your wedding photographer (psst...I love it when that’s me!) and work together to incorporate this event into your wedding timeline. I am happy to help you choose the perfect location and time your first look appropriately to ensure that we have enough time to soak in this special, intimate moment before we get to the craziness that will be the rest of your wedding day!
A Few Fun Ideas for Your First Look
Okay, so you’ve decided to have a First Look. AWESOME! I’m such a huge believer in the benefits of a First Look. Not only is the is an intimate moment between the two of you, but it can be a moment full of fun and whimsy as well.
The first thing to do is decide where you want your First Look to take place? Touring your venue during the time of day that you will be having your wedding is key. As a photographer I look for ideal lighting situations to achieve the very best images for you. Seeing the location at the time we’ll be shooting your photos is so very valuable. It will allow us to help you chose the perfect location - one that is attractive, private, and has lovely soft lighting.
Next you’ll want to discuss whether you want your First Look to be a private moment between the two of you - or if you prefer to have your wedding party and parents participate as well. It’s natural that the people who love you are excited to share this moment, which can be fun. However it can also be a big interruption in what is ideally an intimate moment. Personally I feel as though a private First Look better achieves the romantic and intimate portraits that most of my couples are hoping for.
Once you’ve decided on the Where and the When for your First Look you’ll want to discuss the How. There are several ways you can go about seeing each other for the first time. One of you can stand in a private area with their back turned, and the other will approach quietly and surprise them. This is the most common option, since it doesn’t take any special preparation and can be accomplished just about anywhere that is private.
Another option is to use a blindfold. Or hide one person behind a screen / hedge / jumbo balloon bouquet perhaps? You are only limited by your own imagination!
A fun and easy option is for both parties to be blindfolded and take off them off simultaneously!
If you don’t mind getting friends or family involved you can have a little treasure hunt, leave a trail of rose petals to a private location, plan a little “pin the veil on the bride” or a silly little game of Marco Polo until you find each other! Have fun with this moment if that’s your personality. Or keep it serious and solemn if that’s your speed - there is no right or wrong way to have a First Look.
However you decide to do it - this is such a sweet, intimate moment. You won’t regret spending a few moments enjoying each other before the rush of the wedding day takes over and you are swept up in the celebration of your marriage.