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First Look

Wedding First Look

Wedding couples hire me for my ability to document, candid moments and show how the day feels in addition to what happened. One of my favorite moments to photograph is a First Look. When a wedding couple will see each other before the ceremony, I’ll arrange a time and place for them to see each other for the first time called a First Look. This is a great opportunity to get natural expressions and emotions so I love when couples decide to do this. All the formal portraits are done before the ceremony so everyone can enjoy the cocktail hour or immediately go to the reception.


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Superstition says it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding ceremony, but it’s really a hold over from the business transaction that weddings used to be. A father chose his daughter’s groom based on how wealthy and honored his family was. The bad luck, or shame, would come if the groom thought the bride was not attractive enough and backed out of the agreement. To prevent this from happening, the father wouldn’t allow the groom to see each her until the wedding ceremony. The veil served to hide the bride as long as possible.

Most brides want that moment one the groom sees her for the first time coming down the aisle. They romanticize tears of joy when their groom sees them, although I’ve rarely seen a groom cry when his bride is walking down the aisle. For those that do get a little teary eyed, it tends to happened during the vows not the entrance. Most guys are extremely nervous and are thinking about how beautiful their bride is, or how lucky they are. First looks tend to calm those nerves but it won’t change them thinking about how beautiful their bride is.

Why I love First Looks

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  1. The couple can react immediately. When they turn around, they can hug, kiss, laugh, cry, check each other out. During the ceremony, the officiant usually says a few, or several words, before allowing the Dad to give the bride to the groom. But there’s still a 20-30 minute wait to hug & kiss. Plus, most churches restrict access to the photographer limiting how effectively we can capture that moment.The Solarium Wedding
  2. Portraits are relaxed not rushed. Brides want beautiful, scenic, romantic portraits on their wedding day but the cocktail hour is not enough time to allow that to happen. Most of that time is spent corralling guests out of the sanctuary and organizing the family photos which always includes a search for someone missing. Typically only 10-15 minutes is left for the couples’ portraits. You have to allow enough time to get bustled & line up to enter the reception. And your catering manager has to get the food started on time to ensure the biggest part of your bill is still hot, fresh and tasty.
  3. It’s your only alone time on your wedding day. You’ll spend the entire day surrounded by bridesmaids, family and guests. There’s no other time on your wedding day where you can be yourself and share your private thoughts with your new thoughts.
  4. It saves time. Something always runs late during a wedding and the cocktail hour is typically that make up time. Receptions end up starting late and your guests can get impatient and frustrated. By doing a first look, and then all formal portraits prior to the wedding, you’re less likely to be late. And if things do run late, you don’t cut into the most important portraits, your romantic wedding portraits. Most brides think they’ll save time by doing all the separate portrait before the wedding. That is standard practice and not a time saver. The most important portraits, family photos and romantic couple portraits, require both the bride and groom to be in them.
  5. You can enjoy your cocktail hour. Most couples miss their cocktail hour but your guests would love to have that time to speak with you and meet your spouse if they haven’t already. Yes, you’ll do that during the reception also but you have all your reception events to do as well.