In other posts in this series of wedding top tips, I have shared how to get the best out of your photos during the morning of the wedding day. I then discussed the ceremony and how to get great photos. It was only when I had finished those that I realised I had missed out on a small, but important part of the morning. Before you make your way to the ceremony there is a little time when your family and friends see you all dressed up, the bride ready to get married. This time is a really special time and can be quite emotional. Your makeup & hair is done, you have put on your wedding dress, your accessories and you are ready to go. So should you have a first look or not?

Depending on how you choose to do those final preparations it might be that your mum, dad or friends haven’t seen you with your dress on. Making that entrance or having that time with those special people is really lovely. Getting photos that capture these moments is also a really wonderful thing. It is a time of true emotion and real reactions.

What is a first look at a wedding?

When the couple decide to see each other for the first time before the wedding ceremony OR when the couple make an entrance individually to show their family and friends. 

Bridesmaid and bride embrace

Here are a few top tips on how to decide “Should you have a first look or not?” and if you do, how to get the best out of your photos for your first looks on your wedding day.

  1. Not everyone wants to be photographed

I share more about this in my blog “I don’t like being photographed” but I appreciate that being photographed is not everyone’s favourite thing to do.  However, it’s a brilliant way to capture moments that in the blink of an eye can be missed. Photographs of your wedding day will last forever, and it’s a beautiful way to remember it all in years to come.

2. Make an entrance

If you do decide you want to go with a first look at your wedding, then you want to make an entrance. Make sure you ask your family and friends to wait in a room that you can enter easily! Make sure there is plenty of space and plenty of light (again with the light, I’m obsessed but it makes all the difference for your photos!). The last thing you want is to have to walk over, squeeze round or step past things on your way into a room.

Bride and father share a hug
Pre-wedding excitement

Making an entrance down the stairs can be a very wonderful and elegant way to do it, but make sure you can walk downstairs easily if you opt for this!

Bride walking down stairway
Emotional bridesmaids greeting bride
Documentary Wedding Photography
Teokath bride with bridesmaids

3. Get your family and friends to come to you

If the idea of being on show and a grand entrance isn’t for you then get your family and friends to come to where you are. Find a space that allows for them to move and to see you full length so they can take in the full effect of the dress/shoes/make up and hair. Working in a room with space and light and no clutter is best for this.

Father of the bride greets his daughter Hampton Court House wedding Surrey
Purple bridesmaids smiling at bride

4. Give yourself time for the reactions

My priority when I am capturing these moments is to focus firstly on the reactions of your family and friends. I love these sorts of photos. They a real, they are honest and they show just what your loved ones are feeling in that moment. I will often stand behind you, the bride, so I can see their faces more clearly. It’s then wonderful to be able to move around and capture your reaction, the hugs, the smile, the happy tears. Having room to move and a space that has great light is key to be able to get these sort of photos. Another thing to bear in mind is to give yourself some time! You are about to go and get married and the most important people to you are there with you in those last few moments before the ceremony. Give yourself enough time to enjoy these moments so you don’t feel like you are having to rush out the door the minute the dress is on.

5. Tidy up the room

This time isn’t hugely difficult to arrange. I will often ask what you wish to do before or on the morning of the wedding and then ask your family and friends to stand in a certain spot or enter the room at a certain time, when you are ready. It’s a little direction and organisation that can make all the difference. The reactions and the photos are real, natural and candid, it’s just a case of setting things up to make sure you get the best out of those photos.

Elegant bride walking down stairs
Father greeting daughter pre-wedding
Documentary Wedding Photographer
Parents smile before child's wedding
Emotional bride with father before wedding

6. Choose the first look to be just for you two

There is another kind of first look. One that is done more frequently in the US, but is something that couples are adopting here in the UK too. It’s a first look between the two of you and no one else. A chance for you to see each other a little time before the ceremony. When you are all dressed and ready, it’s a time to connect, to hug, to calm the nerves and to have some quiet time just the two of you.

The couples’ first looks are truly wonderful to photograph. They are very special times that can produce very special images. After you have had a few moments taking it all in we then have a little time for some photos of the two of you. There is no one watching, no one wanting your time or your attention. Just you and the love of your life enjoying time together. I appreciate this isn’t for everyone. For many they want that first moment to take place while walking down the aisle. But if you do like the idea of this then you just need to work it into your timings for the morning. Make sure you have plenty of time set aside before you need to get ready for the ceremony. When you choose to do a ‘couples first look’, I will help with working out timings and finding a place where you can meet for the first time as the nearly married couple!

Hope this helps you figure out “Should you have a first look or not?” along with a few tips for making the most of the photographs you get from this small but special part of the day.

You can check out some of the amazing weddings I have featured in this post by browsing the blog. Why not start with Som & Jonny’s stunning Italian wedding in Tuscany.

Thanks for popping by
Fiona x