The ‘First Look’ is an idea that has in recent years come over from America. Now if you are a devout traditionalist chances are this is not for you BUT if you like to do things a little differently in life then it just might be!

What is it… well, a ‘First Look’ is a private meeting between you and your husband/wife to be (and photographer) before your wedding. It is a magical few moments where the bride walks up behind the groom all ready and looking stunning in her wedding dress, taps him on the shoulder and allows him to turn and see her for the first time in her dress.

It is often a surprisingly emotional experience often because you may not have seen your groom since the previous day and the fact that you are likely to have talked, stressed and thought nothing but of the wedding for weeks. The day is here and now this is what is important, the two of you declaring your love in front of family and friends and the previous months, sometimes years, have lead to this moment.

Rather than walking down the aisle for all your guests and family to see you in your dress there is something even more intimate and special about allowing your ‘man’ to see you first. It almost feels like a symbolistic way of saying “I am all yours and yours alone”.

I have so far had the huge pleasure of shooting 4 of these magical experiences and each one has felt unique, special and really quite emotional. There is no doubt that this trend is hitting British weddings but apart from the wonderful reasons above there are actually some fantastic practical reasons for having a First Look.

If you are getting married in winter then sadly in Britain we loose light very quickly. I often hear from brides who have planned a late afternoon ceremony in winter not realising as we chat about their plans that it will be dark when they come out of the ceremony. Three of these examples were brides who really wanted to make the most of the daylight to get gorgeous images but all of which would have struggled for time and light after a late ceremony.  The first look gives us a chance to use the light at a winter wedding to the best of our advantage capturing the first look and then spending 30 mins shooting the remainder of the ‘couple shots’ meaning that after the ceremony these are all done and my couples have a little more time to relax with their guests.

Practicalities to think about… There are a few practical issues (I know boring this should all be about the romance!) to consider if you are planning a first look so below I have shared a few pointers…

*Who ~ This is just for the bride and groom so wherever you plan to do it make sure no guests will be arriving or family hanging around trying to get their own sneaky look!

*Where ~ Outside locations always work better than indoors (subject to the weather). Choose somewhere very quiet (for the reasons above) perhaps a back garden/grounds of your venue, a private room or maybe even meet somewhere en route to the ceremony, a park, the beach or perhaps somewhere special to the two of you.  The main thing is that the location is quiet so no early guests will stumble upon you, it’s not raining or too windy as you are likely to still want to look perfect for the ceremony.

*When ~ I recommend this at least 1 hour before you are due to ‘leave’ for the ceremony. So if your ceremony is at 2 at the SAME venue then I would suggest 12.45-1pm. If you are having a civil ceremony the registrar will want to speak to the groom usually 30 mins before the ceremony and the bride 15 mins before so you must have arrived at the venue by then at the latest. You also need to make sure your hairdresser and makeup artist are aware of the time they must finish and leave yourself at least 30 mins to get in to your dress, have some ‘ready’ shots and time to touch up your makeup, gather a bag before you leave.

So if you have read all of the above you are quite likely to either love or hate the idea! Having shot a few I can honestly say I love them and the images that are created by such a wonderful moment in time. If you would like to explore the possibility of one of these at your wedding then do feel free to give me a call/drop me an email to chat about the idea.

Here are a few images from my 4 first looks in the last 12 months…

Adam and Clare opted for a first look because they wanted to make the most of their gorgeous wedding venue Cley Windmill. With a wedding at 4pm on Valentines Day it was going to be getting dark straight after the ceremony so these images would have been impossible…

Nigel and Jeni opted for a first look as they wanted to have this special few moments together before the ceremony. They also wanted to save a little time after the ceremony so they could spend as much time as possible with their guests and this is a great way to do that.

Ash and Sophie opted for a first look due to an afternoon ceremony on 23rd December. We knew natural light couple shots would be a struggle after the ceremony (although we managed a few on the day). They also wanted to make the most of the gorgeous interior of their venue Yaxley Hall and as Sophie had made and designed her own dress she wanted to show it off to Ash first!

Gordon and Geraldine opted for a first look due to a late afternoon ceremony in February, they wanted to spend time with their guests and knew the light would be almost gone by the time they were married.

A huge thank you to my wonderful clients for trusting me with this slightly radical idea, I hope you all think it was worth it! I adore the images we all made and I know you will treasure them for years to come. x

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