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First Look: From the Perspective of a Top Wedding Photographer

Posted on October 11, 2016


Wow. One simple word but what makes it special is the meaning behind it. There will only be one time when the groom and bride will see each other all dressed up in their wedding attire for the first time. The way the groom lights up when he sees his future wife in her wedding dress will be unforgettable. The smile the bride wears knowing that in a few minutes the man of her dreams will officially be her husband will be timeless. Its an intimate private time for the couple by themselves before going out to celebrate their love in front of all their family and friends.


A first look is a moment usually arranged by the couples wedding photographer wherein he is staging the first time the bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony.


Your weddng photographer should be an expert at arrangng the perfect first look location that is not only beautiful but also private. Most of the time, the wedding couple wants the first look moment to happen in a secluded location away from distractions and other people. However, this is not always the case. I have also set up the first look in locations where parents and the bridal party can watch as well. Its very important for your photographer to check with the bride and groom to make sure its ok for others to watch.


Once the bride and groom have been brought to the first look location and the groom knows the bride is ready and waiting, he can tell the groom to turn and see the bride. Its also at this moment that your photographer should turn off the need to jump in and pose the bridal couple. The few seconds when the groom actually sees his bride is the same time when your photographer should back off and photograph this moment as a wedding photojournalist . This means no interference and no posing. Your wedding photographer should let the moment happen and simply capture whatever happens. Too often the photographer is too quick to jump in and and pose the couple. Interfering during this time is a huge mistake because it disrupts an intimate moment between the bride and groom and eliminates the opportunity for the photographer to capture the true emotion of the first look.


While a first look is not a requirement for the weddings we photograph, we highly recommend it to couples as there are many advantages in doing a first look.


The wedding day is huge big event for every couple. It is quite normal that they will feel a bit jittery. The first look can help to ease the wedding day jitters of the couple. Some brides are uneasy about the groom seeing her in front of all the guests. A first look will give the couple time to savor this moment privately. This a special moment between the couple that they dont want anyone else see.


In addition to executing a first look between the bride and groom, your photographer can also organize a first look between the bride and her father. The moment when a brides father sees his daughter in a wedding dress for the first time is very emotional. This special moment should be photographed in such a way as to capture the feeling of both the bride and her father.

(Below) - The emotional first look between the bride and her father.


A couple can also personalize their first look. Aside from capturing the priceless moment of the groom seeing the bride for the first time, the photographer can also capture some fun and creative photos such as the couple holding hands while hiding behind a wall or door as if drumming up the excitement more. Another good idea is to capture the brides face as she stands behind the groom or her shooting the groom from behind before the groom faces her bride for the first time. Some couples exchange gifts or read their letters to each other. The possibilities for getting creative photos are endless.


A first look gives the families an opportunity to have their portraits taken before the ceremony. Getting the family portraits earlier in the day will make the timeline of your wedding day more streamlined and as soon as the wedding ceremony concludes, everyone can go and enjoy the cocktail hour without having to worry about taking any more formal photos. Doing this will alleviate any rushing in getting all the bride and groom and family photos done. Also, if your ceremony is at late afternoon, doing a first look will also allow photos to be taken while there is still natural light which is a great advatnage as well.


What if you dont want a first look? We assure couples that not doing a first look is ok and we will work with the couple to orgranize an advantageous timeline according to their wishes. We always discuss the benefits of doing a first look, but are happy to arrange the day whatever way the couple prefers.


If there is no first look, then coverage usually begins with photographing the bride and her bridal party along with her family. The groom is somewhere else so that he doesnt see the bride. Afterwards, the bride will have time to relax while we will photograph the groom and his groomsmen and his family.

(Below) - The bride walking down the stairs toward the groom is a dramatic way of revealing the bride to the groom.


After the wedding the ceremony, the couple, the bridal party and family members will do the group photos during the cocktail hour. Its much easier to get away with not doing a first look if there is a good amount of time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. For example, if the ceremony is over at 2PM but the reception doesnt start until 5PM, you will have enough time to finish all the group shots. This is often the case with a church wedding, but not necessarily if the wedding is at a hotel or other similar venue.

(Below) - This phone booth provided a fun way for the bride and groom the share the first look.


(Below) - The grandmother seeing the bride for the first time.


We hope this article has been somewhat helpful in explaining the benefits of doing a first look, however, we undertand that every couple is different and our ultimate goal is to be able to produce the best possible photos for our clients  no matter how they would like to arrange their wedding day. We have years of expertise at working with all kinds of schedules and requests, so couples should always feel free to have a discussion with us about exactly how youd like your wedding day coverage to unfold.


(Below) - Before the groom actually saw his bride we had her do a little posing from behind frosted glass.


(Below) - This album page is dedicated to the first look between father and daughter.


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