Blog, Weddings

September 5, 2015

The First Look – Is it Right for Your Wedding Day?

The First Look. I bring this subject up in all of my bridal consults. Most brides either LOVE the idea or absolutely hate it.

Those that hate the idea are usually trying to embrace the traditional wedding ceremony, and they can’t dream of the groom setting eyes on them before that moment the bride walks down the aisle. And, I don’t blame you!! I’ve caught some of those moments, and they can be amazing.

charlevoix wedding first look

But, a first look can be amazing in a different way…

What is a first look? A first look is when there’s a time set aside before the ceremony where the bride and groom see each other for the first time. We like to stage it to be a cute, intimate photo-op.

In many ways, this eliminates the pressure of everyone watching your reaction during the ceremony. It helps break the ice a bit in what is often a very stressful (but wonderful) day. Most of our couples that opt for this type of first look experience a huge sigh of relief after this moment happens and they’re able to just enjoy being together. Rochelle and Drew (pictured below) couldn’t wait to finally see each other on their wedding day. Rochelle kept saying “I just want to be with Drew. I can’t wait to see him and spend today together.” The first look allows couples to choose an earlier time to see each other and give themselves as much time together as they want before the ceremony takes place.

From a selfish wedding photographer standpoint, it saves us some hassle because we can get many of the bride, groom and bridal party pictures done before the ceremony, saving your attendees some time and patience between the ceremony and start of the reception. We’re able to set the first look time for as early as we need to, which gives us the opportunity to travel to other locations for portraits as well versus sticking to one venue due to tight time constraints. Couples who choose this option generally love the flexibility it brings to their wedding day schedule, and making it to the cocktail hour is a major added bonus!

All of that aside, a first look can be a beautiful, intimate experience between the bride and groom. I LOVE capturing these. Here’s how they usually go..

First, we get our groom in place before the bride arrives. Then, we ask her to walk toward him, with his back to her, while he nervously waits in anticipation.

interlochen mi first look

Then (and this is usually the best part) is the reaction. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂

interlochen mi first look wedding day

Not gonna lie, the best first looks always have some tears….


Then, we just let the moment happen naturally as we snap away. The best first looks have little to no interference from the photographer. We set up the location and make sure everyone is in place to start, but then we just let the moment happen on its own.



Finally, after the tears and moment has started to calm down, we whisk our bride and groom off to start the day.

Rochelle and Drew (pictured above) have always been one of my favorite couples to use. They had a genuine love for each other that I don’t see in every wedding, as you can clearly see in the first few moments they see each other. Plus, the horse farm made for such a cute, rustic backdrop.

Here are a few other fabulous couples who embraced doing a first look.

Desiree and Matt at Castle Farms in Charlevoix, MI.

The setup…


The reaction…2015-09-04_00022015-09-04_0003

The embraces….2015-09-04_00042015-09-04_0005

Stephanie and Tim in downtown Charlevoix, MI

The setup…

first look charlevoix mi

The reaction…first look charelvoix mi

Tears and embraces…first look charlevoix mifirst look in charlevoix mi tatum photo and design

Heather and Adam at Castle Farms in Charlevoix, MI

The setup…

castle farms charlevoix mi first look

The reaction…castle farms charlevoix mi first look

Embraces and kisses (and checkout the fall color at Castle Farms)….castle farms charlevoix mi first lookcastle farms charlevoix mi wedding photography

Kylie and Nick at a beach in Grand Rapids, MI

The setup…

first look beach grand rapids mi tatum photo and design

The reaction…

first look beach grand rapids mi tatum photo and designfirst look beach grand rapids mi tatum photo and design

Kisses and embraces…first look beach grand rapids mi tatum photo and design

And we head off to the ceremony!first look beach grand rapids mi tatum photo and design

Sara and Tim at the pier in Charlevoix, MI

The setup…

charlevoix mi first look wedding photo

The reaction…

charlevoix mi first look wedding photo


The beautiful couple…

charlevoix mi first look wedding photocharlevoix mi first look wedding photo

Thank you to all these couples for letting Tatum Photo and Design be a part of your first look and wedding day. I truly work with some of the most amazing couples.