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Should Brides do a First Look?

Authentic Wedding Day Storytelling

I’d like to share with you, my opinion on whether or not a bride should do a first look with her groom. My background as a photographer is about catching moments that are pure, and authentic. I want to capture real emotions in my photographs. I’m not interested in photographing a beautiful landscape with a bride and groom showing cheesy smiles. In other words, I’m interested in capturing the feeling of a moment, rather than the aesthetic beauty of it. With that being said, I’ve changed my opinion on this matter from when I first started shooting weddings.

I used to think that all first looks were pointless, because they’re staged and would therefore ruin a real moment. Now, I believe it can go both ways. I’ve seen plenty of great first looks that were filled with tears, and laughter. I’ve even gotten a little choked up, in a few of those moments.  I’ve seen lots of grooms who were very quiet and reserved, then suddenly break down in tears for the first time. I’ve also seen plenty of first looks where zero emotion was shown. It felt staged and awkward for both the couple, and myself. Maybe they were nervous with cameras around them, or maybe they were just doing the first look because they were told to do it. It really depends on the couple.

A bride is excited to see her groom during the first look at a Denver Wedding, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments

The benefit of doing a first look is that it can reduce your nerves before the ceremony. I’ve noticed they usually help relax the couple. If a couple decides to do a first look, I recommend it being private, and not shared with anyone else. I’ve seen some first looks, where a bridal party member, or mother of the bride interferes by fixing the dress, or suggesting the couple turn to face the light. This interrupts one of the few solitary moments that the couple has with each other.

There are some couples who still believe in tradition and decide to wait to see one another until the ceremony. I’ve seen some great expressions during these moments as well.

A nervous groom watches his bride walk down the aisle during a wedding in Denver, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments

Instead of a traditional first look, I recently photographed a wedding where the bride and groom read handwritten letters to each other. (faces hidden from one another) I positioned the bride behind the groom while they read their letters and it worked perfectly, as I captured some touching moments. After they finished reading, they did their first look.

A groom reads a letter from the bride before their first look during a Denver wedding , Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure momentsbride and groom see each other during the first look at a Denver wedding, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments

Another option for a first look is to have it between the bride and her father. Sometimes, the fathers want to share a personal moment with their daughters before they give them away. I think it’s a great idea, and I always see some touching moments between the two of them.

A bride's father waits nervously to see his daughter as she walks behind him at a Denver wedding, Rudy Ortega Photography, A bride and her father hug after their first look together at a wedding in Denver, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments

Finally, if you’re stressed out, or nervous to see each other, you can always have fun with it, and just be goofy. I did one first look where the bride surprised the groom in a giant unicorn/cartoon mask. Everyone had a good laugh, and I got some fun photos.

In conclusion, a first look can be great if you’re living by the moment, or you want to get some of those nerves out of the way. Otherwise, it’s best to stick with tradition, if you’re unsure how you’ll react. Either way, your wedding photographer should be ready to capture those first reveal moments. After all, it could be the most memorable part of the day for the couple.

A bride covers the grooms eyes while wearing a cartoon/unicorn mask during their first look at a Denver wedding, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments A bride reveals her identity as she has her giant mask taking off her head during a first look at a Denver wedding, Rudy Ortega Photography, catching pure moments,