Wedding First Look Ideas: Why They Fail and How to Fix Them

Nothing kills wedding first look ideas like a bride, groom and photographer who don’t know what they’re doing or why. For a successful first look, avoid these top 3 mistakes.

wedding first look used with permission.

The setup

You need a specific plan for how and where the first look will happen, and a little direction. Everyone should know exactly what’s happening, where and when. With proper setup, you’re free to react naturally and the photos will be beautiful. Without setup, it’s just some random pictures of you looking at each other.

The buildup

Emotional images are one of the main reasons for doing a first look, but the pictures fall flat if the photographer doesn’t put any effort into building it up. Don’t just do a first look. Do it like it’s the moment you’ve dreamed of forever. Take the time to build up the moment with each person.


The purpose

Are you good candidates for a first look? The worst reason to do a first look is because someone else did it. Do a first look only if it’s what you want. Have a specific reason, other than scheduling, and make sure everyone knows how to make it worth the time.

Are you an emotional type of couple? Do you absolutely need family and bridal party portraits before the ceremony? Are you OK with seeing each other before the ceremony? If you answered no to any of those questions, a first look may not be for you.

Wedding first look ideas

If you choose a first look, what kind do you want? Do you want to walk up behind the the groom and tap him on the shoulder? Do you want to stand back to back together? Or would you like to invent your own first look based on something you love as a couple?

Look for inspiration from your location and photographer. Paths, doors, curtains, windows all lend to creative first look ideas. But it doesn’t have to be super creative or complicated. Standing back to back and simply turning around on cue, or on your own, can be enough for great images.

I counsel my clients to only do a first look if it’s something they feel strongly about and have their own reasons for doing it. You can get great first look images, but only if you and your photographer properly prepare for them.Image

Joel Nisleit is a Wisconsin wedding photographer looking to craft a romantic story you’ll want to showcase. Contact Joel for a complimentary idea session.

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