In the weddings of the past, the bride and groom were not allowed together in the same room until the ceremony. This first look ritual is sacred as it preserves the groom’s (and guests’) eyes until the bride walks down the aisle. Then, everyone can marvel (and even cry) at her beauty as she joins her groom in holy matrimony.
However, modern wedding traditions have flipped the script to accommodate an artistic, private moment between the bride and groom which they can later share on their social media feed. It’s called a wedding or elopement first look, which some of the best wedding photographers have made famous on Instagram.
What Is a First Look?
A first look is an artistic, emotional, or funny set of pictures featuring the bride and groom. Aside from a collection of “Instagrammable” photos, first looks are a way for the husband- and wife-to-be to share a private moment between them, no guests or entourage involved.
The pictorial happens on the wedding day before the ceremony, typically after the man and woman have gotten dressed. The first look’s setup is entirely dependent on the couple’s preferred theme and the technical skill of their wedding photographer.
How Does It Go?
The bride and groom start with their backs against each other (facing or back-to-back). The photographer then calls out both their names so they can turn to see one another. The moment during and after the reveal is what photographers need to capture.
Alternatively, they can also have one person facing the other (facing their back towards them). The one facing will then call out their name or tap the shoulder as a signal to turn.
Since the bride’s and groom’s genuine shock and happiness are essential, the cameraman only has a few precious seconds to memorialize that instant. As a backup, photographers usually have a second photographer with them.
The best wedding photographers always tell couples to turn around slowly and savor the first look for a few seconds before hugging. These pauses allow the couple to savor the moment while the photographer (and their assistant) captures it faithfully.
How Do You Get It Right?
First thing’s first, you and your partner need to discuss whether or not you want a first look and how you want it to go. Getting it right means aligning with your partner since they are involved in this process, too.
Next, you need to scout a private location within the venue that fits both your personalities. Love the outdoors? Have it in a grassy area where no guests are allowed. Enjoy a bit of formality and structure? Pose inside a room or hall that’s cordoned off from people and has good sunlight. Do you enjoy plants and trees? Capture the first look in a secret garden with many trees and flowers!
Once you and your partner have set the plans, inform your wedding coordinator and photographer. They need to fit it in the schedule, mainly since it occurs right after hair, makeup, and dress time and just before the photo session with the groomsmen and bridesmaids.
The wedding coordinator will have their team block the shoot venue so that only you, your significant other, and photographers can go there for the first look.
Much like the wedding itself, a first look needs careful planning for the proper execution. It’s a loving moment between two people that will last a lifetime through photos, so be sure to hire the best wedding photographer for the job.
If you want an IG-worthy first look for your wedding, get in touch with Kennerly Creative. We’re a husband and wife duo that loves telling stories through our lenses and does professional wedding photography in Arkansas.