First Look Wedding Films

by | Mar 23, 2017

First time for everything and something different on your wedding day…

Autumn and winter weddings can be so romantic, rich with beautiful colours.

But one of the challenges for photographers and videographers is shorter days and a lack of light.

I recently filmed the most intimate of weddings at Burythorpe House in Yorkshire. Just twelve guests and the bride and groom.

The bride, Emily, was up for anything when it came to her wedding film. She wanted it to be romantic but also different and fun.

We worked together on what elements we could introduce to the day, given there were only going to be a few guests and came up with a fun Flash Mob before I suggested she could have a First Look (or Reveal) with Jason.

If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a concept from the United States – a moment staged and set up by the videographer or photographer for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.

It can be magical and, because the bride and groom usually do this in private, away from their guests, it is often very intimate and filled with raw emotion that can make for some truly special photographic moments brought to life in a film.

Many couples don’t like the idea, citing the age old traditions that the bride should not see the groom before that moment of walking down the isle. Some couples simply think it will simply ruin the surprise and some like the idea but perhaps the mother of the bride doesn’t so puts them off doing it.

But Emily absolutely loved the idea and so did Jason. It meant that not only could they have some time together before the ceremony but myself and the photographer could capture some extra special moments between them in beautiful sunshine, when time for that later in the day was limited.

Photos by: Sugarbird Photography

As I’ve said it is usually the photographer who sets up the First Look. In this instance it was me. I found the perfect location just outside the front of Burythorpe House and suggested Emily walk out of the hotel, around a beautiful tree with hanging lanterns and up towards Jason.

I let the ‘action’ unfold naturally and set up three different camera angles so I didn’t have to stop start the walk, that would have meant losing spontaneity and ruining the moment.

The images above capture the moments of the First Look but one of my favourite moments was when Emily stopped just a few feet from Jason and paused. This built up the moment even further and could not be captured with photography – those few seconds were magical and then she tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around …

First Look/ Reveal: the Pros and Cons

Like the sound of having a First Look yourself, here’s some things to consider…

It calms the nerves – some brides get very anxious about walking down the aisle, while grooms get themselves hot and sweaty waiting for the ceremony to start. There’s something reassuring about seeing your husband- or wife-to-be for the first time in a private location and helps you feel better.

Provides the opportunity for more photos and film – when you’ve got married and signed the register, it would be great to just relax with friends and family (and a glass of fizz) rather than be whisked away to capture bride and groom moments.

Gives you some time ahead of the main event just on your own – a first look is quite often the only chance you will have when you’re not surrounded by guests or wedding officials.

Starts the day earlier if you have a ceremony later in the day – during popular wedding months, you may discover you need to have a ceremony late in the afternoon to accommodate registrars. A first look ensures you make the most of your venue and its wonderful surroundings.

Often a good day for winter weddings when the days a shorter – it gets dark so much earlier at a winter wedding, that as we mentioned before – you can be missing out on magical moments at gorgeous venues.

It can look as beautiful and simple as Alice and Quentin’s first look moment…

Alice + Quentin // Sneak peek.

Close relatives don’t like the idea – although a first look is about you seeing your partner for the first time – many family members feel disappointed that they don’t see you seeing each other for the first time. 

You could be superstitious – traditionally, it is considered  bad luck for a groom to see his bride before the wedding.

Might feel like you’re cramming it in – while a first look takes less than ten minutes, it could be time you’re taking away from other special moments or may leave you feeling flustered as you’ve not finished your pre-wedding preparations.

It could look a bit awkward – Truly magical moments are candid shots with spontaneous reactions. There is the danger that some brides/grooms feel they need to react in such a way to seeing their partner for the first time, that they appear less relaxed.

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