How to do a first look on your wedding day

November 27, 2019

In this article I’m going to tell you how to do a first look for your wedding day.

Those nervous moments will happen on your wedding day, and they will be amazing. I’m a firm believer that in the majority of cases, anything that makes you nervous does so for a good reason. As a Canberra Wedding Photographer, I’ve seen how nervous some people can get walking down the aisle, and I want to let you know that there is an alternative way to do this!

So you’re nervous to put the dress on on your wedding day? You’re nervous because you know it’s one step closer to making that big commitment that you’ve been excited about for months.

Nerves are good. However, saying that there are some time when having a more quiet and intimate introduction can help settle the nerves of the day a little bit.

This is where first looks come in.

In this article I’m going to tell you:

  • What first looks are
  • Who they are best suited for
  • Where can they be done
  • How you can do them
  • The advantages and disadvantages of them

What is a first look?

First looks came about as a way for couples to see each other before the ceremony, forsaking the tradition that the groom must see the bride as they go down the aisle.

This means that when you first see each other, it won’t be with 100 guests gawking at you both. Rather it’ll be in a much more private setting, meaning you can fully bask in how amazing the other one looks.

First looks are on the rise as more and more couples are getting a better hold of what makes a wedding personal to them, rather than something to ‘tick the boxes’.

Who are first looks best suited for?

There are some good reasons why you’d want to do a first look.

  • If you’re a couple who doesn’t like being the centre of attention, first looks are perfect for you. You will be able to have that excitement of seeing the other one before being in front of everyone.
  • First looks are well suited to couples who may feel a bit more introverted, and who prefer to have that bit of extra privacy. Not everyone enjoys the feeling of being watched by all onlookers (hell, it’s why a lot of couples prefer to elope, because of the privacy of it), so a first look is perfect if you’re both a bit introverted.
  • If you’re the type of couple that wants to feel like you’re going into the day together as a team, first looks are a great way to release all of that tension and feel like this is your own adventure to get on together.

Where can first looks be done?

First looks can be done wherever you would like.

It could be at the ceremony location, outside where you are both getting ready (if you are sharing a nice big AirBNB), or even somewhere totally different.

For example, I’ve had brides who have wanted to meet their partners at a local hotel bar’s courtyard, so that the boys can enjoy some pre-wedding drinks to relax and then the groom gets to see his gorgeous bride to be all ready. As a Canberra Wedding Photographer, I see a lot of awesome spots in nature in and around here which make the perfect spot to do the big reveal.

I’ve also had partners who have preferred to set up a first look right around the corner from one another, reaching out hands to feel the other one, before turning the corner to see the other one all dressed up.

There is no end to the creativity that you can have with first looks.

How to organise a first look

To organise a first look, have a chat with your photographer. They should be well versed in helping you plan the day’s timeline, so this should be a breeze for them to recommend a good place and location for you.

  • For timing, first looks are best planned to happen about 1-2 hours before the main ceremony, so you’ll have the time to enjoy each other’s company.
  • The best practice is to have one partner stood waiting for the other in a location. This could be a courtyard, an open field, or even round the corner.
  • You could have a scenario where one will be facing the other way, and the other one gets to see them first. However, you could also have the scenario where you are both positioned around a corner from each other waiting.
  • Heck, be creative! You could use blindfolds and have the bridal party help walk them both to the same spot.
  • When the photographer gives the signal, you can then reveal yourself to the other one.
  • Once you’ve seen each other and taken it all in, chances are you can both have a short or long couples portrait session. This means that instead of having a couples portrait session after the ceremony, you could jump ahead and get some photos right then and there.

The bottom line is your photographer should be the best person to help you organise this, so let them know that you want to do a first look, and they should be able to help coordinate everything.

The advantages and disadvantages of first looks

I won’t lie; I adore first looks for couples, for several reasons.

  • You’ll get more images of the real emotions when you first see each other. When you’re coming down the aisle, capturing that real moment of wanderlust in the other’s eyes can be limited by the speed of the procession coming into the ceremony, and the limited angles. It’s a very quick moment to capture. Instead, first looks give you that chance to really soak the other one in, and I can vouch that the reactions and excitement is a lot more palatable in first looks.
  • It allows you both to approach the day in a lot more of a private and controlled way. One line I hear from brides so much is “during the time I walked down the aisle, I forgot to look up at you and into your eyes”. First looks will help you with that as you won’t have anywhere else to look or feel a bit of stage-fright with everyone looking at you.

So what is a disadvantage of first looks?

  • To be honest, the only disadvantage I could think about would be potentially that you’d have to allocate a little bit more time to get ready before the ceremony. If you’re on a tight time for the day, it may be hard. However, I believe that if you have a photographer that is worth their salt, you’ll always have someone who can guide you and give you a realistic timeframe of how it could work on your day.

To wrap it up

  1. First looks are best suited to couples who want to experience how their partner looks first hand, without everyone looking on.
  2. To organise your own first look, talk to your photographer and let them know you want to do a first look. They will then be able to help coordinate how to do this for you.
  3. Think about if you prefer to have one of you looking away and the other one come up to them, or if you’d prefer to both be blind to the other, revealing what you look like at the same time.

If you’re looking for a laid back adventurous photographer who can help you get the perfect First Look, get in contact and let’s chat!

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