Planning for Great Photographs | The First Look | Part Two

In my last post in this "Planning for Great Photographs" series, I talked about the popular "First Look" and introduced a few motivators behind this growing wedding day practice. If you haven't read it, take a peek! Today's post is a follow-up about the same topic. This time we're talking about the HOW: these are my tips on successfully orchestrating a beautiful first look moment on your wedding day!

wedding day first look how to

So, if you've decided to begin your wedding day with a First Look, you're now facing a bunch of choices and decisions that come along with creating a smooth and enjoyable opportunity for this moment. It's a quick event, for sure, but if you plan properly it will be quick and AMAZING! A little foresight will go a long way on this one. Here are some ideas and tips to make your First Look memorable, picturesque, and unique.
  • Select your location carefully. I recommend a location that is open and has lots of even light. Because I like to allow this moment to be as organic and natural as possible, it can be a struggle to shoot this with flash or slower shutter speeds. This can lead to blurry images or unflattering shadows. Shade is preferable, so that you aren't squinting or making crazy faces; this shot is all about the expressions on your face when you see one another all bridey and groomey for the first time! A larger space, like a large lobby or a park, will allow my second shooter and I plenty of room to run around and keep out of one another's shots as we aim to capture both of your expressions. Your location could be wherever you are both getting ready or an alternate location. If you choose to travel to a different location for your first look, select one of the spots you want some bride and groom portraits taken as well. Then we knock out two birds with one...spot? Yeah, that!
  • Decide who gets to share in your moment. Though most of my clients choose to share their First Look only with us photographers (talk about feeling special!), some couples opt to include their family or wedding party VIP's. Sometimes it's more convenient to invite everyone along on the fun if you're traveling to your first portrait spot before you see one another. No matter what, it should be YOUR preferences that drive the decision; consider this carefully before you get anyone so excited that you feel obligated to share the moment even when you prefer privacy. As always, though, an educated decision is the best decision! Based on what my couples have done in the past, here are the options I'd encourage you to consider:

Very Intimate: Just you two and your wedding day paparazzi.

Family Affair: Share your first look with your parents looking on from a nearby spot!

From a Distance: Invite your family & friends to look on from the limo, a window, or a hidden spot that overlooks the action.

Share the Joy: Invite your wedding party to join in on the fun and celebrate with you!

  • Give yourself enough time to really enjoy the moment. The First Look can be emotional and wonderful- so even though the actual process takes only a few minutes from start to finish, I like to give my couples a little extra time to enjoy one another's company before we move on to more portraits. This is your chance to re-connect, wipe away some tears, share stories and laughs from your morning activities, take a deep breath, and begin your wedding day! It's finally here! So take more than 90 seconds to take it all in. I recommend scheduling 15 minutes for the First Look, and if we don't use the whole 15 minutes, then hey it's my favorite thing: we'll be ahead of schedule!
  • Don't force it. Some people are criers, some are laughers, some are really serious, and yeah, some of us are stoic! Don't get caught up in what the moment SHOULD be like. Just be YOU. After all, your spouse-to-be is marrying you for who you are. Not who Pinterest tells them you should be just because it's a big day. So relax and enjoy!
Gotta have some lovely photos for you to check out, so here is a series from Nick & Molly's First Look. Nick selected this older, interesting building with a nice spot of open shade. What a great day it was, and this was a delightful way to kick it off! And since they chose one of their portrait spots, we were able to get going on bride & groom pictures right away!

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cute groom sees his bride for the first time

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Hey grooms... Bonus points if you can look THIS impressed with your gorgeous bride! Nick, this shot wins you brownie points I am sure!

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black and white winter wedding portrait

Thanks for reading through my First Look posts. I sure do love that this trend is growing, as it allows for some great images and opportunities on wedding days! What do you think of this trend? Will you or did you have a First Look on your wedding day? We did!