Something that’s become very popular in recent years is a “first-look” photo session. If you don’t know what that is or whether you want to have one, read on!
Traditionally, a couple only saw each other for the first time on their wedding day when the bride walked down the aisle. But that can be a little stressful, especially if you are shy or private, because all eyes are on you at this special moment.
A first-look is a great way to preserve the special moment when you see your spouse-to-be for the first time on your wedding day, but to keep it more private. It’s typically just the couple and one or two photographers at a bit of a distance to capture the moment but to give the couple space. Some couples choose to have their parents or wedding party nearby so they can also witness the moment.
As a planner, the photographer and I work out ahead of time where the first-look should take place. We like to find a spot where we can position the groom with his back to the bride. Then we have the bride approach the groom and give him a tap on the shoulder. He turns around and sees her in all her wedding-day glory.
Sometimes we give the groom the bride’s bouquet to hold, and when she taps him on the shoulder, he presents her bouquet to her for photos.
A first-look session is especially helpful if either one of you is especially prone to tearing up or crying when you get emotional. This gives you a chance to get the emotion settled early in the day so that when you walk down the aisle, you can focus on the joy of the moment, instead of worrying about tears ruining your makeup.
Another big advantage to having a first-look is that once the couple photos are finished, you can do all (or most) of the family and wedding party photos. Finishing those before the ceremony lets you actually enjoy your cocktail hour and have fun with your guests! My clients who opt not to do a first-look generally miss their entire cocktail hour because they are busy with photos.
For my couples who do a first-look, we usually schedule a sunset photo session as well, usually during dinner (depending on the time of year and the time of sunset), so the photographer can capture those romantic, golden-hour shots.
With same-sex couples who opt for a first-look, we stage them a little differently. Sometimes we position them back-to-back and have them turn around at the same time. If they’re getting ready inside a historical home or other pretty indoor space, we’ll place one inside a room and have the other one enter (this works for opposite-sex couples just as well). Some grooms opt to get ready together, so there’s no real “first-look,” but all the getting ready photos have them together, which is fun. If we have two brides who are both carrying bouquets, we give each one the other’s bouquet so they can present it to their wife-to-be.
There are lots of ways to personalize a first-look session to your own wishes. This is one of the things I help my clients work out in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Ultimately, whether and how to do a first-look is entirely up to you, but we can find a way to make it work no matter what!
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