What is a first look?
The wedding day can be a challenging event to plan and experience. However, there are many methods for organizing the big day that can help you simply and save time and frustration. One of those strategies is a "First Look". Although traditionally, the wedding day is setup to that the first time the bride and the groom see each other is during the processional at the start of the ceremony, there is another way.
A First Look is where the photographer setups a reveal of the soon to be newly weds to each other. Typically we will first find a beautiful, picturesque location. This may be at the location where we all get ready, the ceremony location, or just somewhere beautiful along the way. Next, the photographer will position one member of the couple, often the groom, in a specific location and instruct he to look in the certain direction. The photographer will now go and gather the bride and bring her up behind the groom, instruction her to on how to get his attention. The result is a beautiful sequence of images that document a once in a life time occasion. Another possibility is doing the first look with parents as well.
Why should I have a "First Look"?
Although this is a distinct break with tradition, a first look has many benefits for the rest of the wedding day.
- Create some truly passionate and timeless moments. First and foremost a first look is an opportunity to create a sequence of truly romantic images that show off the first time the couple see's each other on the wedding day; all dressed up, and looking amazing. Creating this moment over the procession version has the added benefit of being more clear and under control so that the absolute best images are produced. Thus that first moment of them laying eyes on each other is perfectly captured for all time.
- Privacy. Many past clients have told me, a first look has the benefit of being more private if so desired. The couple has the option of having their first look held either in the presence of friends and family or alone. If you happen to be a more reserved couple, then a first look, setup in privacy, can really help you feel as comfortable as possible. Bring out the most authentic emotions on camera is always easier when the couple feels comfortable and safe.
- Efficient use of time. Lastly, and in my opinion most important, reason for planning a first look will have great benefits for the rest of your wedding day schedule. Once the first look is completed, and the couple have seen each other, the opportunity now exist to complete most, if not all, of the remaining portraits:
- Portraits of the bride by herself
- Portraits of the bride and all her bridesmaids
- Portraits of the groom by himself
- Portraits of the groom and groomsmen
- The wedding couple and the whole bridle party
- The wedding couple and various members of the family
- Typically this would all have to be completed in-between the ceremony and cocktail hour if the couple did not wish to see each other before hand. In my experience this leads to severely eating into the cocktail hour or even the reception start time. I find the decision to have a first look early in the day has many benefits that make the rest of the day easier.
First look on the beach.
Below is a beautiful example of how a first look can be a big public event with everyone in attendance. I was hired to capture the photography for this wedding at the Chequessett Yacht Club in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. It was a warm summer afternoon, the sun starting to get lower in the sky, and the tide coming in. I wanted a sequence that would be romantic but the couple also wanted to include everyone in the moment.
Meet me at the Gazebo in Gloucester
A first look at also be a much more private event. For this wedding in Gloucester, we setup for first look to be much more private at a Gazebo at Stage Fort Park. Just the bride and groom for the magic moment.
First Look between mother and son
The first look on a wedding day is not always between the bride and groom. This past season I have the opportunity to photograph a first look between the bride to be and her son. It was just a memorable and emotional moment on the wedding day.