A Bride Guide: What is a first look and why you should definitely do one.

At some point in the run up to your wedding, your photographer will probably ask you if you want to arrange a ‘First Look’ for your shoot. With so many things to already find time for in your day, you might be wondering what exactly a First Look is and if it’s worth it.

To help explain why we definitely think you should do one, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide on everything First Look related. Let’s begin…

What is a First Look?

So typically a Bride and Groom will first lay eyes on one another as the Bride makes her way down the aisle. The First Look flips this tradition on its head. 

Rather that have your first wedding moment together in front of your guests, during a First Look you’ll take time out alone before the ceremony begins. It’s a highly intimate an personal experience, where you’ll have the chance of a moment of solitude before the madness of the day kicks in. 

Your photographer will work with you to arrange a perfect place for the First Look to take place, and will subtly capture the moment as it happens. 

Photographer: Urška Majer

Why would you do a First Look?

It can be so easy to get swept up in the events of a wedding day that you forget to take a moment to appreciate the amazingness of what you’re actually doing. A First Look fixes this. 

You may be feeling nervous, or emotional, or hyper excited. In a traditional set up you won’t have a moment to process all of that before the day kicks in. With a First Look, you can experience a rare moment of calm to connect and be present with one another before your guests arrive. 

 The number 1 reason you’ve gathered all of your loved ones together is because you’re making an epic and lifelong commitment to one another. It goes without saying, then, that you should take a moment just the two of you to process the magnitude of the journey you’re about to go on together. 

Your photographer will be there in the sidelines to capture that poignant moment for you to remember forever. 

Photographer: Bree Lion

Is a First Look an alternative to posed portrait shots?

It really depends. For many couples, having posed portrait shots is an important part of their wedding day experience. Having a First Look definitely doesn’t mean that you can’t still have the more traditional shots later in the day too, though for some couples the First Look is enough.

Just be sure to negotiate the details with your wedding photographer well ahead of time, as their package may only include a set number of ‘shooting hours’, so you may have to prioritize (or extend your budget).

Photographer: Wilde Company

How long does a First Look take?

It really depends on the set up you have for your day, but typically a First Look will take anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours. This time is in addition to the rest of the day, so it will need to be factored into your schedule well ahead of time to avoid any stress.

Though it might seem a stretch to add something extra in to an already packed day, the First Look means that you’ll get an extra slice of time together before the wedding proper begins, and that’s priceless.

A word of advice: be sure to pick a private spot to do your First Look. The last thing you want is to feel self-conscious because you have a bunch of (potentially unknown) onlookers watching you. This is perhaps the only time you’ll have alone together all day, so find somewhere secluded and the results of the images will be candid, genuine and spectacular.

Photographer: Erika Diaz

But, won’t it be weird to have already seen each other when the ceremony starts?

For some couples, yes. The tradition of first seeing each other as the bride walks down the aisle is an important one for a lot of people, and we totally get it. However, with this set up, you’re experiencing that special moment with dozens of other people (and iPhones). The intimacy of the moment is somewhat reduced. If you or your groom are on the shyer end of the personality spectrum, it might also mean that you aren’t able to show your emotions as freely as you’d like to. These are all things that can take away from it being truly ‘your’ moment. 

Many couples say that meeting at the aisle is just as moving as when they met for the First Look. You’ve processed the jitters, you’ve talked through your feelings, you’ve expressed what you feel inside for this one other human on Earth. When you meet again at the aisle, all of those unspoken truths will feel even stronger. 

Photographer: Alyssa Marie Evans

So, should you do a First Look?

The truth is, as wonderful as we think First Looks are for helping couples to connect – it’s your day. The decision of whether to do a First Look totally depends on you guys as a couple, and what you’d like to get out of the day.

If you’re unsure about whether it’s right for you, chat with your photographer ahead of the day. They’ll be able to help you determine if it’s a good call or not, and then ultimately the choice will be yours and yours alone. 

No matter whether you decide to go for a First Look or not, that moment you set eyes on one another for the first time will be moving, and epic, and emotional  – wherever you are. So think critically about what you imagine for the day, and then follow your instincts (even if that does mean you break with tradition). It’s your day, after all.  

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