First Look Wedding Photos

First Look Wedding Photo

Norman Lemcke, Social Media Director of the Essex Room, discusses first look wedding photos and how to capture that special first moment between you and your partner before the wedding ceremony.

John Maher: Hi I’m John Maher, I’m here with Norman Lemcke, Social Media Director at the Essex Room, a wedding and event venue in Essex Massachusetts and today we’re talking about first look wedding photos. Welcome Norman.Norman Lemcke: Thank you for having me.

What Are First Look Wedding Photos?

John: Sure. So, Norman, what are first look wedding photos?

Norman: First look wedding photos are basically when the bride and the groom get together in a private setting and have their picture taken, and that sounds kind of simple. But it’s when they see each other for the first time, it’s their first look. A lot of people don’t necessarily like the first look photos because it is traditional not to see the bride, but its origin goes back centuries because it used to be an arranged marriage, and so they didn’t want the bride and groom to see each other because they were afraid that if they saw each other and they didn’t like each other, then they wouldn’t get married and that would cast shame on the family.

John: The groom might see the bride and go; “Oh that’s no good,” and run out the door.

Norman: Basically.

John: So that’s where that superstition came from, of not seeing the bride in her wedding dress on the morning of the wedding.

Norman: And the same goes for wearing a veil. The veil was designed to hide the bride.

John: So, now it’s 2017 and we don’t necessarily have to do that anymore.

Norman: No.

John: So why would couples then want to have this first look wedding photo done instead of the usual photos that are often taken between the ceremony and the reception?

Norman: Well I’ll tell you, what I tell brides when I meet with them at appointments, I always encourage the first look photos because the main reason is time. First look photos, any photo after the ceremony or during ceremony, you probably have about two hours. So, if you wait until after the ceremony, you have about two hours worth of photos to take and these are the formal portrait photos, family photos, bridal party photos, bride and groom photos. Any kind of formal wedding photo is taken after the wedding and during that time, you have all your guests enjoying the cocktail hour. So, the bride and groom don’t get out there until really almost the end, whereas the first look photos, you get that out of the way.

I like the first look photos because I think it is more of a private moment. I like it because when a bride walks down the aisle and the groom sees her for the first time; it’s in front of all these people. And I think it should be more of a private moment.

John: Right, it really is kind of a special moment.

Norman: It is. And so that’s why I encourage it, and we do quite a bit of them. We have brides who are very traditional though and they’re like “No, I do not want see the groom before.”

John: There’s that whole bad luck thing and so if you’re superstitious and you’re traditionalist then that’s fine, you don’t have to do it.

Norman: And that’s fine too, absolutely. But I just encourage them to do it because it’s a time factor.

How to Make First Look Wedding Photos Special

John: Right, okay. So, do you have any tips on making that first look wedding photo or photos the best that they can be?

Norman: My biggest tip is relax, have fun, [and] enjoy the moment. The photographer really is in control of how it’s done, where it’s done, [and] how it looks, but it is a moment between the two people and it’s about just the two of them and I think sometimes that gets lost in the whole craziness of the wedding day.

John: Especially with the like; “Okay, you stand here, and you stand here, and you look at the camera.” These could maybe be a little bit more candid.

Norman: Yes, and they’re sweet.

John: The couples are looking at each other. They’re seeing each other for the first time.

Norman: And the groom always cries. Which is funny, they’re always like “No, I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.” But it’s like, yes, you’re going to cry. Almost nine times out of ten they do.

Scheduling Other Photos

John: Right, that’s funny. So, does taking first look photos mean that you won’t have another photography session during the day?

Norman: No. Unfortunately, there are photos taken throughout the entire the wedding reception till the very end. The first look photos basically take care of all the bridal party photos, the bride and groom photos, [and] the more formal portrait photos.

John: So, it’s not just the bride and groom, you can have the whole wedding party be involved in that as well.

Norman: Absolutely. You get the family photos, if you want to have all of the cousins of their mother’s side from the old country or something, then that is usually done either after the ceremony or sometime during the reception, they get pulled aside. School classmates, wherever they went to school.

John: Right, your friends and things like that, yes, friends and extended family.

Norman: Exactly.

John: But at least by taking some of those, the bride and groom photos the ones with the bridal party, the groomsmen [and] things like that, that gets a large chunk of the photos out of the way and then seriously cuts down on the amount they have to take after.

Norman: Yes, we’re talking an hour and a half, two hours. So then, if you have the first look, then you have the ceremony. You have a few pictures taken after the ceremony, but then you can go to the party, which is great, you don’t want to miss the party.

John: Yes. Have you seen people be introduced into the reception like while the cocktail hour even is still going on? Or do you do you wait until that cocktail hour is over?

Norman: We usually wait until the cocktail hour is over and we get people to their tables and then introduce them.

John: But people aren’t sitting around waiting like when is the bridal party going to show up?

Norman: Well, we hope not. No, we’re pretty good, we have a schedule that we follow and everyone has a watch and I stay with the bride and the photographer and we’re all like “Okay you have 15 minutes left.” But most of the photographers we use are great, they’re great to work with and so are the brides.

John: Yes, that’s great so it’s definitely something to think about assuming that you’re not too much of a traditionalist or superstitious or something like that.

Norman: It’s absolutely something to seriously consider, but may not be for you.

John: Alright, that’s great information Norman thanks again for speaking with me today.

Norman: Thank you for having me

John: And for more information you can visit the Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335