The First Look



Annelise & Paul’s beautiful and intimate first look at one of their favorite spots on Martha’s Vineyard: the Polly Hill Arboretum. We got special permission to hold their first look here, and it was well worth the effort. After the first look, family joined us for portraits.

What is a “first look”?

The first look is when the couple choose to see each other before the ceremony, usually so that they can do their portraits and family photos (“formals”) before the ceremony. It is popular because it enables them to enjoy cocktail hour with their guests, rather than spend it taking photos.

The first look is a somewhat contrived event – aside from the portraits, it is the only time on the wedding day where I will coordinate it – but it usually results in a very intimate and genuine moment for the couple, despite being carefully set up.

Should we do a first look?

I’m often asked by my clients if I recommend a first look. I recommend that we set up a first look under any of the following circumstances:
– you want to spend cocktail hour with your guests
– you have large families/lots of family combinations to work through
– you’re not traditional about seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony
– you want to see each other for the first time in an intimate setting, rather than in front of all of your guests
– you want to maximize your time partying/relaxing after the ceremony

However, if you’d prefer not to do a first look, this is fine too! If you choose not to do a first look, I still recommend taking as many family and wedding party photos before the ceremony as you can (separately, on each side) and then after the ceremony we can take just the following photos:
– the couple and both sets of parents
– the couple and both sets of immediate families (siblings, grandparents)
– the couple and full wedding party
– your couple portraits

Leigh & Eric’s first look on Acorn Street in Beacon Hill. I usually wouldn’t recommend choosing such a busy spot for the first look, but this was early January so we had the place to ourselves.

When should we schedule the first look?

Ideally, the first look takes place (at least) two hours before the ceremony, earlier if you have lots of family groupings, or large or complex families, or if you’d like to visit multiple locations. The timeline for a 4pm ceremony would look something like this:

1:45 first look and couples photos (earlier if you’d like to visit multiple locations; 45 minutes is plenty for all on one site)
2:30 wedding party photos (earlier if you’d like something more creative than both sides lined up, separately and then together)
2:45 family photos with immediate families, grandparents, and any other VIP guests
3:15 formal photos end; Kate sets up for ceremony; couple relaxes and refreshes
4:00 ceremony

Why do you set up the first look? Can’t it just happen naturally?

We can definitely talk about this! What I recommend, though, is allowing me to choose a place that is fairly private, with nice light and a simple background. I often choose this spot on the day of the wedding. If you have somewhere in mind, let me know and I can check it out and give you feedback.

Once we have a place chosen, I will take one of you there to wait for the other; everything else that happens is completely natural and I will stand back and capture it.

If we do a first look, can we still take some photos at sunset?

Yes please! I love taking you away for 10-15 minutes around sunset for some photos in the most beautiful light. I recommend taking a few minutes for these photos whether or not you decide to have a first look.

Do we need to pay for additional hours if we decide to have a first look?

No, the extra time is included. I only charge for additional coverage after the first hour of dancing is over at your reception; the rest of the day you have me for as long as you’d like me, so it makes sense to add in the first look as it means extra time for free!