7 First Look Mistakes Not to Make

Because you only have your first look once.
by Maggie Seaver

First look photos are awesome. You get to share a private, giddy moment with your soon-to-be-spouse, shake off preceremony jitters and enjoy more time at cocktail hour (a win-win-win, if you ask us). But while they look completely effortless, there’s a little more thought behind all those sweet, candid shots you’ve seen and love. Make sure your first look is even better than you imagined by avoiding these seven mistakes.

1. Leaving your photographer out of the loop.

Rule one: Talk to your photographer about your first look vision (or, if you’re not tied to a specific vision, ask for advice). You’ll want to nail down all the logistics, like timing, positioning and any other particulars beforehand, so when the moment comes, you’re as carefree as possible, and your photographer can take the reins.  

2. Not allotting enough time.

The last thing you want is to feel rushed on your wedding day. Doing a first look is supposed to calm your nerves and prompt happy feelings—not stress you out. Your photographer, who’s likely shot many first looks before, will be able to help figure out a timeline that works for you. Once you’ve created a comfortable schedule, stick to it. That might mean you need to wake up a little earlier to eat and get ready, but it’ll be worth it to avoid cramming everything in preceremony. Plus, if you leave yourselves enough wiggle room, you’ll have time to make hair, makeup or wardrobe touch-ups before the ceremony starts (think: fix your mascara after a few happy tears).

3. Bringing your wedding party out with you.

If you’re also planning to take photos with your wedding party before the ceremony, have your crew meet you a little later—especially if you think their presence will make you more nervous and uncomfortable during your first look. This is one moment you’ll want to share with your partner only.

4. Not choosing a secluded spot.

In the same vein, this moment is all about the two of you, so find a secluded spot where no guests can see you (you’ll ruin the surprise!). Pick a location that will let you bask in each other’s company, say what you want to say and react completely naturally—without feeling self-conscious from passersby.

5. Letting camera shyness get in the way.

While you’re partly doing a first look to capture the amazing emotions on camera, your main focus should be on actually experiencing those emotions and sharing a personal moment with your partner. If being hyper aware of the camera might make you clam up and keep you from fully enjoying the moment, we have a great compromise: Have your photographer shoot your interaction from a distance using a long lens. They’ll be able to snap those close, intimate shots without crowding your space or making you feel nervous.

6. Forgetting tissues.

Trust us on this one: You may not be a big crier, but you better bring something—just in case. Seeing your better half for the first time on the day of your wedding is enough to make even the least emotive person break down.

7. Assuming your first look has to be like everyone else’s.

After all is said and done, the truth is, your first look can be anything you want it to be. Don’t think you need to follow what you’ve seen in order to do it “right,” because there’s no right way. If you’re not sold on doing one, but want to mix things up, try a compromise. Combine the trend with tradition and do a first read or first touch. You and your partner can stand just out of sight of each other, say, on either side of a partition, hold hands and read each other love notes aloud or say a preceremony prayer (your photographer can snap you both simultaneously, even if you can’t see each other, and the result is magic). You could also leave your veil or other accessories behind for the first look, then don it for the ceremony as an extra, sweet surprise for your partner.

Still deciding on whether or not to do a first look? Read these pros and cons to help you choose.

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