Everything Worth Knowing About First Looks

It used to be that everyone feared sailing off the edge of the world, practiced blood letting to cure illness, and believed that just about everything gave out heaps of bad luck. One of the best ways to get a lot of bad luck in a hurry was to see your betrothed on your wedding day (pause for dramatic effect) before the wedding. After exhaustive double blind studies, it turns out that it probably isn’t a big deal if you see your spouse in their last moments of bachelordom which opens a huge world of newly possible ceremonies and traditions to participate in before the wedding. The most famous of which is the “first look” which is adapted from a viking wedding ceremony where the groom had a staring contest with the bride’s father, the winner of which got to keep the dowry. Trust me, I’m an expert, and that is totally how it got started. So the first look has changed somewhat, and I think it’s a pretty cool thing to do at a wedding. It’s so cool that I did it at mine, and I think you should at least think about doing it at yours. Plus, even if the bride’s father wins, what were you really going to do with all those stolen sheep?

 Creepy Sheepy


No More Sheep

In a nutshell, a first look is a moment before the wedding ceremony and after both the bride and groom have gotten ready where they meet and see each other for the first time. First looks are a nice intimate moment shared between the couple in a setting where none of the wedding attendees are watching. It’s a beautiful moment, and it serves as an excellent photo opportunity as well. Most weddings start in the early afternoon, but rather than sitting for hours with nothing to do but drop sloppy joe meat on yourself, you could be getting your bridal party photography done. That’s right, kids. Immediately after you do your first look, you can have your wedding party show up and get their photos taken too. This serves several advantages. First, lighting is better in the morning than it is at high noon or shortly after, so your photos will often look nicer around this time. Second, shooting your wedding photos and bridal party photos before the wedding means you can leave directly to the reception after a couple quick family pictures, unless you can get your extended family to get ready early too, then it’s green lights all the way. Third, for grooms like me, sitting around doing nothing before the wedding is the worst, it wracks the nerves and gives Pappy too much time to make “your life is over now, boy” remarks. Fourth, if something goes wrong or needs to be changed, there is actually time in the schedule to deal with it. But what about tradition?


A “first look” only partly ruined by a pesky photographer.

Tradition, Trends, and Trendsetters

There is something romantic about your first glimpse of your spouse at the other end of that aisle. It’s a classic and iconic moment. I love shooting these for couples, but it presents its own shooting challenges. Photographer placement is almost never ideal, lighting may be very dim, or your freakishly tall cousin may block the moment from view (seriously, that’s the biggest 14-year-old I’ve ever seen). But it can’t be denied, that the first look down the isle has a certain magic to it. That’s tradition for you. I am a huge fan of tradition as anyone who has worked with me will attest. I’ll avoid trends like the plague because I know they will look tacky in a few years, but I honestly believe that the first look is here to stay. Why? Practicality, effectiveness, and results. People aren’t looking for more stress on their wedding day, and the first look is a great way to remove the stress of not having enough time between events on the wedding day. More and more couples come to me asking to do first looks or they ask me what a first look is. I say, it’s the way of the future. It may not be for everyone, and that is perfectly fine, but I really think it is worth the consideration.

 Austin + Catherine Wedding-49

A different first look presents its own challenges and its own sincerity, a classic is a classic.

Don’t Consider Anything

First looks either appeal to you or they don’t. It is a different feel and vibe, but either way, weddings are wonderful. For the skeptics who are saying that I only recommend first looks as they take more time on the wedding day so I can charge more, I have to say, have a little faith! Unlike most photographers, I don’t have packages based on hours of photography. My prices are all quoted based on how much editing your photos will take, and one way or another I’m going to take wedding party photos so the editing load doesn’t increase. If anything, the extra time the couple has to take photos only makes my job easier. Furthermore, I wouldn’t want a pricing issue to cause someone to not be able to have the kind of wedding they want to have. Do exactly what you want, and let me take care of the rest. Just don’t ask me to take care of those sheep.

Join me next week for: 15 Creative Ideas of How to Put Stolen Sheep to Work for You

Trivia: receive 10% off illustration work or get 10% off a wedding save-the-date, invitation, and program design package when you email me the correct answer to the following question with the subject “First Look Trivia” (offer valid through October 9, 2015 and may not be combined with any other offer.)

Which breed of sheep has wool that is highly sought after for athletic wear, particularly in the wonderful sport of skiing?


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