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Wedding First Looks: 6 Tips for Planning This Special Moment

As wedding traditions continue to evolve, one decision that today’s couples face is whether to have a “first look” before their ceremony. A first look is held before the ceremony and is when a couple sees each other for the first time in their wedding attire. Dad first looks, family first looks and even wedding party first looks have also become very popular.

So how does a first look impact the wedding photography timeline? Let’s delve into the pros and cons of having a first look and explore how it can benefit your wedding photography experience.

Bohemian Style Wedding Cedar Bay Farm 6 | Cincinnati Wedding Photographer | Linen &Amp; Elm Photography | Cincinnati Wedding Photographer | Fine Art Photography | Documentary Style

Pros of Having a First Look:

  1. Emotional Connection: Sharing a private moment before the ceremony allows the couple to express their emotions freely without the pressure of an audience. It’s a chance to connect intimately, resulting in genuine reactions and heartwarming photographs.
  2. Relieves Pre-Ceremony Jitters: The nervousness and anticipation leading up to the ceremony can be overwhelming. A first look allows the couple to share a moment of quiet before the whirlwind of the day begins.
  3. Efficient Use of Time: A first look allows you to take bridal party photos (and even combined family photos) prior to the ceremony. This speeds up portrait time after the ceremony, and the couple can join cocktail hour sooner.

Cons of Having a First Look:

  1. Breaking Tradition: For some couples, the idea of seeing each other before the ceremony goes against tradition and may diminish the anticipation and magic of that first glance down the aisle.
  2. Adds a Planning Step: Planning a first look requires additional coordination and timing, adding to the already busy schedule of the wedding day. Some couples may find the pressure of fitting everything in before the ceremony stressful.
  3. Less Time for Preparations: Getting ready on the wedding day is a cherished experience for many couples. Opting for a first look may mean sacrificing some of this time to ensure everything stays on schedule. Check out our 8-hour sample wedding timeline which includes a first look which can help ease those jitters
  4. Risk of Early Fatigue: Starting the day earlier for a first look can lead to fatigue later in the day, potentially affecting energy levels during the ceremony and reception.

How Linen & Elm plans your first look // As your photographers, we will orchestrate the first look in a natural and unobtrusive way to properly honor the emotions and that unfold. We choose the location based on aesthetic, lighting and privacy. We take a few key photos, then step away.

Tips for a Successful First Look:

  1. Stay Present: Amidst the excitement and nerves, a good photographer will allow you to stay present and focus on each other during the first look and you’re entire day. This is an extremely emotional moment, take the time to soak in all the feelings your feeling.
  2. Come in Your Full Wedding Ensemble (including flowers!): Now is the time to bring your flowers, wear the boutonniere, have all of your jewelry. Don’t forget your veil.
  3. Hire a 2nd Photographer: This is a very big moment in your wedding day. Having a 2nd photographer allows your team to capture each person’s reaction and emotion. The lead photographer captures one angle and the 2nd photographer captures the other.
  4. Location Matters: Your photographer will likely select a private, scenic location for your first look to ensure intimacy and beautiful backdrops for your photographs.
  5. Communicate with Your Photographer: Our approach is to treat this moment with the reverence and respect it deserves. We lay out the logistics, and offer a few prompts for the couple so that it runs smoothly and we can capture the moment beautifully.
  6. Gifts & Private Vows: In our experience, couples will exchange gifts and exchange private vows after this moment. Having photographers during this moment is optional, or we can capture some imagery from a distance out of respect for your privacy.

Setting Up the First Look:

The photographer will choose a picturesque location away from the hustle and bustle of the wedding preparations. The couple is positioned strategically, with one facing away while the other approaches from behind. The photographer captures the raw emotion and reactions as they see each other for the first time. Careful planning and coordination ensure that the first look flows seamlessly into the rest of the day’s events.

While the decision to have a first look before the wedding is deeply personal and subjective, it’s essential to consider its impact on your wedding photography timeline. Ultimately, whether you opt for a traditional reveal down the aisle or a private moment beforehand, the most important thing is to cherish the emotions and connections that make your wedding day truly special.

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