Should a bride do her first look during the service or before? I get this question a lot and rightly so— it is one of the most important images from the day.
When asked, I explain what happens in both moments in great detail. I want my bride to know the way it will unfold and help her decide what works best for her. I detail what the process is for both and show pictures like the ones above. In some cases, tradition will dictate the event. But for those on the fence, there are many advantages to a Pre Service First Look.
Some are worried the emotional effect will not be as intense if they see each other before the service. If you are worried about that, rest assured that is not the case. I have done so many Pre Service First Looks and in each case the Bride and Groom were just as nervous about seeing each other in the service.
Both options provide amazing photographs that the couple will cherish. Both are amazing to photograph. It is up to the photographer to make it happen.
Service First Look:
This can be an amazingly emotional image like the Black and White image. The reaction from the Groom is incredible. He is totally overwhelmed when the stunning bride enters.
But this shot is over in a matter of seconds. A good photographer will know where to position themselves for the moment the Groom sees the Bride as she enter and walks to him. I like to position myself so I can capture the Grooms face while still framing the Brides veil in the foreground. The photographer will also need the right equipment to take 5-10 shots in a low light church- a pro camera body and a fast zoom lens are essential. Using the best equipment and having the experience is a must to capture the moment.
But there is so much that can ruin the photograph that I cannot control. Here are the 2 most common-
1- People in the congregation take a picture of the bride as she walks down the isle. In most cases their flash goes off and it whites out the entire picture I take because I am essentially photographing their flash. In some cases, I have had 5 people photograph the Bride as she walks to the alter and all my shots are ruined. A Service First Look is over so fast, that every shot (usually 5-15) are essential. There is very little wiggle room for error. I counter this problem by strategically placing the 2nd photographer to be ensure we get the shot.
2- Another case is when people standing in the isle on the Grooms side lean out to catch a glimpse of the bride. Even with a zoom lens, there will be faces in the frame ruining a great shot. The above image had to be cropped a lot to cut the faces on the right side of the frame.
Before the service begins, I now make a point of speaking to those sitting ahead of me to not use their cameras or lean into the isle for a glimpse. Even after I explain how they will ruin the image, there is still someone taking a picture with their flash.
The other issue with a Service First Look is the pressure it puts on the schedule. All pictures must be taken after the service which puts pressure on an already tight timeline. This is especially true if the couple wants many Formal pictures.
First Look before the Service:
The first looks I create are beautiful intimate moments. I select a lovely location to give the Bride and Groom a calm setting to enjoy their moment together. This moment in no way diminishes the first time the Groom sees her as she enters the Church or Service. They will still be emotional at that moment.
With the pre service look, they can enjoy it without the stress of having 200 people watching them. They also can enjoy it without feeling rushed. They can talk, share, and look at each other without freaking out in front of an audience. The color image captures that quiet moment perfectly. The Groom is looking in awe at how beautiful the Bride looks.
– the whole schedule opens up for more pictures. When the First look is done before the Service, then many pictures can happen before the service.
– there is less chance of someone ruining the moment because I can control the moment. I pick the location and who is present.
– Couples can really spend a few precious moments together.
In the above colored photograph, the bride and groom did their first look in her parents living room. We moved all the furniture out of the way, put on the lights for a warm glow and opened the blinds. We created a lovely space. I positioned myself on the balcony with a 2nd shooter in the back room. That way we captured both their reactions.
We brought the Groom in and had him face away from the Bride who was in the backroom. On a signal, she walked up to him, tapped him on his shoulder. I even tell the Groom which way to turn for the best image.
Either way, the first look is an amazing moment in the day and one your photographer must capture perfectly. Regardless of the style, your photographer should have the experience and equipment to photograph one of the most important images from your wedding.
Color Image- Canon 5D Mk2, 70-200 IS L 2.8, f 2.8 1/500 ISO 400
Black and White Image- Canon 5D Mk2, 70-200 IS L 2.8. f 2.8, 1/80, ISO 2500