What is a first look? | First Look Wedding Photography Inspiration

First looks are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and Europe, but a lot of couples aren’t sure exactly what a first look is, or if they will suit their plan for their wedding day. Featuring a first look I captured recently during an elopement in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland, here is a brief explanation of what a first look is, why more and more couples are choosing to do one, and how to plan yours.

What exactly is a first look?

Simply put, a first look is the moment where the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day. Traditionally, most couples would wait until the ceremony to see each other on the wedding day, at the point where the bride walks down the aisle. A first look offers an alternative for couples who are wanting that special moment to be private and shared just between the two of them (usually with their photographer hiding out in the background).

Why do a first look?

A first look allows the couple to have a (mostly) private moment together before the ceremony begins. It’s usually quite an emotional point in the day when they see each other for the first time, and being able to share that moment alone, rather than with all of their guests watching, can be incredibly romantic. Many people feel they will be able to react more honestly (rather than try to hold back their emotions) in private and the photos tend to reflect that- lots of happy tears and beautiful embraces. A lot of couples who choose to do a first look say they feel it will help them be more relaxed before the ceremony, and calm their nerves before the most formal part of the day.

Isn’t it bad luck for the couple to see each other before the ceremony?

Depends on how superstitious you are I suppose! The idea of it being bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony is a tradition that dates back to the time of arranged marriages, where weddings were really more of a business transaction between two families. Fathers would do their best to marry their daughters off to wealthier/land owning men, however if the groom to be met his bride before the wedding and decided she wasn’t attractive enough he could call off the wedding, which would then cast shame onto the family. Hence the tradition of keeping the couple apart until the ceremony, when it was too late to back out. (Side note: This is where the tradition of veils came from as well!) Not very romantic if you ask me… 

How do you plan a first look?

If you’re looking for ideas on where or when to do your first look, chances are your photographer will be able to steer you in the right direction! I encourage couples to pick a quiet spot, whether that’s a private area where they are getting ready, a secluded spot somewhere around or near their venue or a meeting point somewhere on route to the wedding. This is always pre arranged with your photographer, who can set up one person in the chosen spot, and let the other know when to head over and say hello. I do my best to capture this moment from the sidelines, so that it still feels intimate and private for the two of you which is very important if you’re wanting to get a real reaction out of your partner. Afterwards it’s nice to take a couple of minutes alone before the ceremony, a special few moments you can share alone together before you head out to share the remainder of your day with your guests! Bonus tip- might not be a bad idea to have some tissues on hand, as there’s a good chance there will be some happy tears.

If you’re planning your day and have yet to find your elopement photographer in Scotland, Ireland or the United Kingdom, I would love to hear from you! Get in touch here.