First Look Ideas & Advice | Tips from a Wedding Photographer

Let me start off by saying that there is no right or wrong way to plan a wedding. Some couples will find seeing each other pre-ceremony as a great way to help calm their nerves. Others will love the anticipation that comes with seeing their partner at the ceremony for the first time. 

How it works

Once hair and makeup are all done, it’s time to set up the first look. Leave it to me, I set up and help instruct the entire process. I will set up the groom first—or bride depending on your preference—and have them in a spot where they will not see their partner approaching. I then have an assistant go get the other half.

After you are both set up and coached, I will step back, wave you forward, and let you have the moment—uninterrupted of course. Afterward, my couples will wave me over when they are ready to have me help out with posing. 

Where

There are a few options when it comes to the location for your first look. 

Keep it simple. A first look at your getting ready area or wedding venue is terrific. It will help you speed up the timeline even more, because, well, you will already be there. If you love the way your trendy Airbnb looks or if your venue has a nice quiet area, then it can make the process special to you and your partner. It will make it easy for you to have an intimate moment to yourselves. 

For nature lovers, I recommend a scenic spot near the venue if schedule and location allow. There is something beautiful about a couple seeing each other for the first time with the sounds and colors of nature. This organic experience produces authentic emotion that comes through beautifully in wedding photos.

Timeline Considerations

After the couple has taken in seeing each other for the first time, it opens up many timeline possibilities that would otherwise be reserved for after the ceremony. Here’s a list of the photos we can do to free up more time later in the day:

  • Couple’s pictures. Although, I still recommend stepping out for sunset pictures because the light is special during that time of day. 
  • Pictures with your pet of choice. Over the years, I’ve photographed quite a few furry friends right after the first look. 
  • Bridal party pictures. I will have the bridal party set up in a not-so-far-away area, ready to get photos done once notified. 
  • Immediate family pictures. We can also do pictures with your closest family to get an early start on the formal family list that is typically reserved for after the ceremony. 

Essentially, choosing a first look is a great way to make sure you and your guests are able to take full advantage of the time at the reception. The first look tends to move very quickly because the ceremony has not started yet and guests have not arrived yet.

Pre-wedding Jitters

The most consistent feedback I have received about first looks is that it has helped to relieve pre-wedding jitters that can kick in. Sharing this intimate moment with your partner is a great way to relax your nerves, and I believe in making this day as peaceful and free-flowing as possible.

Alternatives

Many couples are in love with the idea of waiting until the walk down the aisle to see one another, but they still want to get the day started with a few portraits. In this case, I can have you back-to-back or holding hands at the intersection of a building. I’ve had couples opt to read their vows to each other and others have opted for a prayer together. 

I am here to guide you and make helpful suggestions based on my experience. If you are still undecided on the first look, you can reach out to me here, and I will be glad to answer any questions you may have!