Different Types of First Looks | Wedding Memos | Amanda MacPhee Studios | Maryland Wedding Photographer

I’m sure in some point during your planning process, you have heard about “the first look.” You might find yourself curious, wanting to learn more about how to add it to your special day, and that’s what this guide is all about. I’m here to tell you all about the different types of first looks and how magical they all are. I should add a disclaimer here, that I am HUGE fan of first looks and love sharing how they are possibly THE BEST choice ever any chance I get.

First Touch

A Garden Estate Summer Wedding at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont Mountains of Virginia
A Garden Estate Summer Wedding at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont Mountains of Virginia

A different approach to the first look is the first touch. Everyone puts their own spin on this one, but the basics stay the same: the bride and groom are guided separately by myself and my second to a secluded area with a door or wall. They are placed with their backs against the door or wall, facing away from each other. Then they reach out their hands around the corner and meet in the middle. Such a simple touch evokes a wonderful array of emotions, and if you are looking for something simple yet still beautiful and special to rival a first look, this is a great choice

First Look with Mom, Grandma, Dad, etc.

A Garden Estate Summer Wedding at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont Mountains of Virginia

Everyone wants to see the bride in her wedding dress and share a special moment with her privately. Yet sometimes the day can get going faster than we can keep up with it and those moments are lost. A great way to make sure you don’t lose those moments is to schedule in first looks with the people you want to spend a few extra minutes with together. First looks with Grandma are priceless. First looks with Mom or Dad are tear jerking and First looks with your furbaby? Well that’s just sheer joy in one glorious moment tbh. All you have to do to make sure this happens, is inform me and I’ll add it into your timeline. You then need to tell that person that you want to do a first look with them and ask them to show up 10 minutes before, and wait for my second to find them and set them up in another room, outside, etc. The special family moments will be worth every minute 🙂

The First Look

A fall wedding in downtown Frederick with a first look by Carroll Creek

This is the one you hear about and are probably a little curious about. This is the moment all your friends are probably telling you to do. So let’s talk about the pros and cons to this one:


The Pressure is off!
Before you see each other the nerves are going to be running high and you probably won’t even remember much of what’s going on because you are so distracted. Sometimes all you need to get out of that haze is a first look. You walk up behind him, tap him on the shoulder and instead of seeing each other for the first time and trying to keep it together (he is at the front of the ceremony for all the guests to see after all) he lets loose. He is so happy he can hardly stand it. He cries, he laughs, and you right along with him. And now that you’ve seen each other, the pressure is off. You can relax and enjoy the day from there. Oh and a nice plus? You can get your makeup retouched right after this (because we know you are going to cry 🙂

An August USNA wedding with a first look by the Rotunda
An August USNA wedding with a first look by the Rotunda

Time Alone
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times from your friends who have already gotten married. “I don’t think we were alone all day.” With a first look, you get to be alone for 20 whole minutes! You can talk, and kiss and just be alone together. (along with your trusty photographer hiding in the bushes ofcourse)

A Maryland Summer wedding with a first look
A Maryland Summer wedding with a first look

More Portrait Time
It happens all the time. The timeline says one thing, but the day says something completely different. Sometimes ceremonies run late and the sun sets before we can do your husband and wife portraits. Sometimes family portraits are taking up portrait time. The list goes on. And it’s just simply how life goes. No amount of preparation or buffer time can fix it. But we can prepare in a different way: if you were to have a first look together, we could grab portraits right after that and that way if anything happened to push the husband and wife portraits, we have portraits regardless, and the stress is gone. And if nothing happens? Well you have a wide variety of gorgeous portraits together that signify your time just before getting married AND just after you became husband and wife!

A Spring Wedding at Belmont Manor & Country Club in Virginia

A Looser Photo Timeline
Okay this one may seem a little self serving, but think about it. How great would it be to get married, walk up the aisle together, get your last bit of family photos done and then be whisked away for your romantic portraits as husband and wife? And after that? Time to Party! With a first look, we no longer have to keep bride and groom separated before the ceremony, so we can knock out all the photos you want with immediate family and the bridal party before the really wonderful moments start. Even bigger perk, your hair and makeup will be fresh and you won’t have to worry about it for hte formals! How great would it be to tell you friends that after the ceremony (unless you want them in a family photo) they can head to cocktail hour. You would be their favorite wedding ever. Trust me, I’ve seen one too many groomsmen eyeing the car a little too excitedly during bridal party portraits.

A Fall  Backyard Wedding in Frederick Maryland

The Ceremony is All the More Special
So now you are probably thinking, well if all that emotion is expelled at a first look, then I won’t get him to cry when I walk down the aisle…this couldn’t be more false. Once the pressure is released he can feel all the happiness that comes with the moment. Before you were just expelling the nerves. But now? Now it’s happening and he can hardly contain himself. Trust me. The emotions will be there and they will be even more powerful!

There are none! Trust me I have been wracking my brain for hours trying to think of reasons why a first look is a bad idea, and I’ve got nothing!

A Spring Wedding at Airlie in Virginia with a First look on the spanish steps
A Spring Wedding at Airlie in Virginia with a First look on the spanish steps

First looks are magical and I suggest you and your fiance sit down and discuss whether you want to do a first touch, a first look with a family member, or a first look with each other. Or more than one! 🙂 And if you both agree that a ceremony first look is what you want, then that is a beautiful decision and I look forward to capturing every wonderful moment of your first look before becoming husband and wife 🙂

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