Setting Up a First Look

Many couples choose to have a First Look. Here are a couple scenarios to see if it is right for you!

You’ve both been waiting for this day for what seems like forever, and the anticipation to see your significant other on your wedding day continues to build. The moment when you see each other for the first time all day is memorable, and you want it to be unique and special for the two of you. Whether you decide to have your first look beforehand or at the ceremony, there are perks and disadvantages of each.

Scenario A

You see him with his back turned. There is a slight breeze outside, and you can’t wait to see his reaction. Slowly you walk up to him and tap his shoulder. He has been waiting in anticipation for this moment. He swings around and gasps, tears welling up in his eyes. “You look absolutely beautiful; I can’t wait to marry you,” he says. You hug and exchange small talk while your photographer and videographer capture the moment, ready to set up the family photos and wedding party photos in the time left before the ceremony.

In scenario A, the creative team has designed a time and place for the happy couple to exchange their first looks. They have it set up perfectly, and if you have a later ceremony, the time before is ideal for family photos and photos with the wedding party.

Instead of cramming the photos in between the ceremony and reception and making the guests wait a long period of time for you to arrive at the venue after photos, you can have a short cocktail hour for photos of just the bride and groom when you opt for scenario A.

For Karlie and Justin Warne, having a first look before the ceremony was the best fit. “Honestly, we were both worried that we would either A) bawl like babies in front of all of our guests or B) be so worried about being nervous and crying in front of our guests that the moment wouldn’t be as authentic as we wanted it to be,” Karlie jokes.

She shares that their first look was one of her favorite memories of the day because of that authenticity and intimacy. “Justin and I wrote each other letters the morning of the wedding and gave them to each other right before our first look. We were holding hands while reading the letters and were standing on either side of the building, so we could hear each other laugh and start to choke up, but still hadn’t seen each other. After we finished reading the letters our photographer made us wait for just a minute to build anticipation and to let us both just embrace the uniqueness and beauty of that moment. Once we were able to turn and face each other, we both broke into tears.”

Scenario B

The last groomsman and bridesmaid are waltzing down the aisle, and you feel butterflies in your stomach before you turn the corner. You hear the music change, and you know that’s your signal to begin your procession down the aisle. You look up and grab your dad’s arm, ready to be married to the man of your dreams. As you turn the corner, your eyes meet and he brings his hand up to his eyes, full of emotion. You smile. The photographers and video team are capturing the moment as best they can. Your dad gives you away at the altar, and you take your soon-to-be husband’s hands and mouth the words, “I love you.”

For a more traditional route, couples might opt for scenario B. Waiting until the ceremony is often selected with couples who might be having a church wedding. There’s something said for sticking with tradition, and you can still have your photographer take photos before the ceremony. Ask them to take photos of the groom and his family and groomsmen separately as well as photos of you and your family and bridesmaids. When the ceremony is complete, the only photos you will still need are the combined family and wedding party photos!

Parents, Groomsmen, Bridesmaids and Siblings

First looks don’t just apply to your significant other! Take time to surprise other loved ones with a planned first look. Talk to your creative team and decide on where it will look best for photos/video and launch the plan from there. When you are dressed and all the final details have been perfected (hair, makeup, ties, jewelry, jacket, cufflinks, etc.), have someone walk your parents, groomsmen or bridesmaids, and/or siblings in one at a time with their eyes closed and line them up. Once the whole group is there, countdown from three and watch their reactions as they see you for the first time ready to be married.

First Look Alternative

If you don’t want to do a first look before the wedding, let the photographer set up a scenario where you hold hands around a corner or door for an intimate moment between the happy couple before you say “I do.” This is a great opportunity to share letters that you’ve written to each other or just exchange simple encouraging words before you make this decision to join lives in a marriage.

Written by Sarah Richards