How to Make the Most of Your Wedding First Look Photo Shoot

A bride and groom during their first look photo shoot before their wedding.

It’s said you never get a second chance at a first impression. The same is true of wedding photography: you never get a second chance to capture a couple’s first look. This is one of most beautiful, emotional parts of any wedding ceremony—the moment someone sees their fiancé transformed into their bride or groom—and shooting it is one big responsibility.

The success of a first look photo shoot lies mainly with the photographer, but there are things brides- and grooms-to-be can do to help the shoot go smoothly. If you and your sweetheart are planning to photograph your wedding day first look (and these days, most folks are), these simple guidelines will help you get the most from the moment.

Talk to Your Photographer About Your Plans for the First Look

Gone are the days when the groom can’t see the bride before the wedding; these days, seeing each other is often encouraged—and photographed. First look photo shoots are incredibly popular, so most wedding photographers will be familiar with the concept. However, photographers are not mind readers, so they won’t know about the specific concept you and your future spouse want.

It’s important that you talk with your photographer ahead of the shoot, describing your overall vision for the photos. The vibe you want to put forward (dreamy and ethereal, playful and silly, or anything in between) will help determine when and how the photographer stages the shoot. The sooner your photographer knows these details, the better prepared they will be!

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

A bride and groom during their first look photo shoot before their wedding.

The first look photo shoot always results in a beautiful, moving image for the wedding album, but it also serves another important purpose: giving you and the love of your life a quiet moment together to calm your nerves. This is your time to simply be together, admire how great you look, and remember what this whole day is all about. Who would want to feel rushed during that?!

Obviously, you’ll have a lot to do on your wedding day. But if you want to have a truly memorable and calming photo shoot, it’s so important to set aside plenty of time for it. You will never regret taking that extra time to take some special photos with the love of your life.

Don’t Bring Your Entourage to the Photo Shoot

A groom smiling at his bride during their first look photo shoot before the wedding ceremony.

On your wedding day, you’re going to spend a lot of time with people who aren’t your spouse. In the morning, you’ll be with your bridal party; at the reception, you’ll be flitting from guest to guest, thanking them for coming and trying your best to chat with them all. So, when you do have a moment that’s just for the two of you, don’t invite any onlookers.

While it may seem nice to have your bridal party nearby to encourage you and tell you how great the pictures are, having other people around will certainly detract from the intimacy of the moment—and it will show in your photos. Instead, leave the bridesmaids and groomsmen in their suites and go this shoot solo.

Don’t Sneak a Peek of Your Fiance on Social Media

We live in a social media age where selfies and livestreams are part of everyday life. Therefore, it’s only natural that your sweetheart will be posting their getting-ready activities to Instagram on your wedding day. It can be tempting to check your phone and see what your other half is up to, but if you’re planning to have a first look photo shoot… DON’T. It’s called a “first look” shoot for a reason. The photographer is trying to capture your sincere reaction to seeing your bride or groom looking like a movie star. If you’ve been peeking at their Instagram all morning, you’ll already have some idea of what your love will look like, and that can take all the fun out of this special moment.

Have Some Tissues Handy

By the time you arrive at your first look photo shoot, you’ll be looking your very best. You’ll be in your wedding attire, your hair will be perfectly coiffed, and you’ll be made up like a model (assuming you’re wearing makeup, of course). Even your eyelashes will be perfectly placed! But once you see your future spouse, the tears will undoubtedly start flowing. That’s perfectly fine! In fact, it’s great! That display of heartfelt emotion is exactly what first look photo shoots are all about. But unless you want to walk down the aisle with mascara pouring down your cheeks, it’s important to have some tissues close by. You may even need a quick touch-up before you go down the aisle (remember what I said about giving yourself lots of time?), so don’t be afraid to ask your makeup artist to keep her brushes unpacked. After all, you still want to look lovely for the ceremony—and if you follow these guidelines, your first look photo shoot will be just as beautiful.

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