Here's how to make the big moment extra special.

By Maya Wong
February 04, 2016
Credit: Rebecca Amber Photography

Some couples wait to see their future husband or wife until the ceremony, but others decide to get a sneak peek. And we totally get why so many pairs are embracing this wedding photography trend! The reactions are always priceless. To make sure your first look goes off without a hitch, Laura Ford, owner of Laura Ford Photographer, and Sarah Tiedeman Gallagher, studio manager at READYLUCK, share a few things you must do to pull off the perfect first look.

Prepare a small gift for each other

The gesture can be as simple as a handwritten letter to one another before you both walk down the aisle. "It is a great time to share a special experience before being swept away in all the wedding day fun and excitement," says Ford.

Leave your belongings with your ladies

Gallagher urges brides to keep your hands free for hugs and kisses at the first look. There's nothing romantic about fumbling around with your purse, glass of champagne, bouquet, and cell phone in a once-in-a-lifetime moment like this. Instead, ask Mom or your maid of honor to hold onto your stuff so you can capture candid shots sans iPhone in hand.

Incorporate cute photo props

"Blindfolds are a fun way to build the anticipation of seeing one another…Usually the groom wears the blind and is instructed to take it off when his bride to be is within eyeshot," Ford says. You can also DIY personalized crafts like "I can't wait to marry you" banners or playful his-and-hers pipe cleaner crowns.

Be OK with messing up your lipstick

Don't let the fear of potentially messing up your already-set wedding-day makeup ruin this special moment. "Plan for touch-ups after you greet one another in this new chapter of your lives!" Gallagher says. After all, allowing yourself to get excited for this moment far outweighs a little smudged lipstick.

Position the groom for photos before the bride

"As a general rule, have the groom in place first (facing away from the direction the bride will be entering the area), and then bring the bride to him," notes Ford. "Have the bride stop about 10 feet from her soon to be husband, and ask him to turn around." The moment the groom sees the bride from a distance will be unforgettable. Plus, each step they walk toward each other until they meet will make for beautiful shots.

Keep in mind that great pictures take time

Don't try to squeeze in first-look photos into a 10-minute time slot. "Rather than 'plan extra time for pictures,' think of the first look as spending fun, quality time with your partner and looking your very best in a gorgeous setting that has meaning to you."

Make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand

Like Mom says, "Always be prepared." On such an emotionally charged day, even the most levelheaded brides can find themselves completely overwhelmed when they see their soon-to-be husband at the first-look.

Don't sweat the small stuff

"Humor, positivity, and a sense of adventure can go a long way (and also creates spontaneous, dynamic pictures!)," says Gallagher. When it comes to the first look, let go of any wedding-day stress and enjoy the minutes of quiet alone time with your love before the big ceremony.

Cover your eyes for the perfect shot

For couples who don't want to see each other until the moment the bride walks down the aisle but do want sentimental shots together beforehand, you can do a no-peeking moment. Ford suggests setting the couple up with a door or barrier between them. "Have them hold hands or lean towards one another, but remember, no peeking! This is also a nice moment for the couple to say a few words to one another to calm their nerves before the walk down the aisle," Ford says.


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