A first look shoot is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time in a more private setting before the walk down the isle. It doesn’t have to be a big staged moment. It can be simple, genuine and intimate.
I always recommend doing a first look for three reasons:
1. It calms the nerves. There is nothing that relaxes nervous brides and grooms more than finally seeing each other and enjoying a few moments alone before the official events begin.
2. It gives you time to take it all in. You can share what you’re feeling, you can hug, you can actually say “wow you look incredible in that dress”– all things you can’t do when you’re at the front of the isle with everyone watching.
3. It makes the timeline easier to work with. If you can see each other before the ceremony, we can do all family portraits and bridal party photos before too. Your family can go enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony, and we can get to couple portraits right away. Which means you miss less of your cocktail hour too!
If you’ve always dreamed of the walk down the isle as the first glimpse of each other, then we’ll do it that way. It’s your day!
The best time for family portraits is before the ceremony. Everyone’s makeup is fresh, they’re all ready to go, and no one will miss any cocktail hour or reception time.
It’s possible to do them after the ceremony, but gathering everyone once they’ve gone to cocktail hour is always a difficult and time consuming task.
If we’re taking just a handful of shots (parents, immediate family, bridal party) then about 35-45 minutes is enough. If we’re including extended family, individual shots of each bridesmaids/groomsmen, uncles and aunts, siblings’ families, etc, then please allow for 60-75 minutes. I’ll help you determine the timeline one the list is made.
We will work on a family portrait list that I will have with me to make sure I check off every grouping you requested.
My favorite time to take couple portraits is right after the ceremony. The pressure is off, and you’re ecstatic, giddy, in love, and ready to party.
The most important thing to ensure we get great photos is trust. If you trust me to create the photos you’ll love, I’ll be able to do my thing and guide and direct you well. It’s all about collaboration and trust.
As you already know, I don’t like to pose you rigidly or traditionally. I will simply give you cues and offer little actions you can do so that you fall into your own naturally. It’s about showing your personality together, not about me fitting you into a posing mold.
My favorite light happens in the last hour before sunset. I always recommend doing a short portrait session (20-30 minutes) sometime in that last hour. It can get pretty amazing results.
A Few More Tips
Receiving lines: My preference is to not have receiving lines. The are very time consuming and they don’t provide very flattering photo ops. They can also get very exhausting and they take away from the burst of excitement right after the ceremony.
Unplugged weddings: An unplugged ceremony is when you ask your guests to refrain from taking any photos. No cell phones, iPads, or cameras are allowed other than the hired photographer’s. I think this is a great idea because it ensures that I won’t have a lit-up screen in the way of a good shot, and I won’t need to ask anyone to please step out of the isle so I can get my shots. I would at least urge you to have your officiant begin by asking everyone to put cell phones away and to focus on enjoying the moments. If you’re curious, you can read a little bit about unplugged ceremonies HERE.
For more tips on wedding timelines, the blog A Practical Wedding has put together a helpful article that you can read HERE if you’re interested.