First Looks:Foul or Fantastic?
Updated: Jan 27
Written by Elle DeMarzo
The moment is finally here. Months of fittings and preparation all seem worth it as you turn the corner with bated breath and see your betrothed…and read a sense of underwhelment that only you can detect; moment ruined, all because you wanted (or were convinced to do) the ever-debated First Look photo. The history of the First Look photographs is paved with good intentions. In order to preserve the reactionary and family pictures, photographers found where they can carve a bit of time for the couple, especially with the decline of traditional church weddings.
As usual, we preface this post by saying, of course you know your mate better than we ever could. So, you know if a First Look works for you & yours. But on the off-chance you find yourself weighing the pros and cons, we offer some sage advice from what we’ve encountered and experienced ourselves.
Unless you’re marrying a seasoned professional, it’s human nature to feel the need to perform (cry on demand), overact or the opposite—clam up—when a camera is in front of you, especially sans the energy of a crowd to react off of, Plus, living in a time where social media over-saturates us with spousal reactions to first looks, we’re already subconsciously telling one another the reaction we’re hoping and/or expecting from them. This flooding of images and expectations can lead to setting each other up for failure as an inability to react (what you may deem as) enough can be due to being overwhelmed, nervous, camera shy or any mix of these emotions happening internally and unfortunately that can’t be caught on camera. Some couples choose to see one another along with their guests at the ceremony and find that the vibe from your loved ones can heighten emotions and helps them to be emulated on film.
As a groom myself, I recall sweltering on a humid New Orleans morning—in June—with the nerves of seeing my husband only adding to the sweat that cascaded over my body, covered in a three-piece suit. I was gleeful in the moment, but my perspiration mixed with tears only made for very very shiny pictures in need of some editing.
On a different note for male/female identifying couples, presenting a bride to the groom can seem like an antiquated way to ensure that the groom approves of his bride before he makes it official. Of course there’s a mutualism component for modern couples that equates a First Look to a special moment between the couple away from the hustle and bustle of their wedding day.