Looking to add elements to your wedding day plans that are meaningful and that amp up the emotions? Then think about having a first look with your bridesmaids! The women who are closest to you seeing you fully ready for your wedding for the first time can be one of the most special moments you will experience during your nuptials. You are pretty much guaranteed to get gasps at how beautiful you look, smiles of joy, laughter and maybe even a few tears of happiness. And not surprisingly, those emotions are going to make your bridesmaid first look photos the kind that warm your heart even 30 years from now.
Quite simply put, a first look with your bridesmaids is just a little time you carve out of your wedding schedule for them to see and marvel at you fully dressed for your ceremony. After your bridesmaids have helped you into your dress, you have them leave the room while someone (typically your mother or your maid of honor) attaches your veil. You then rejoin your bridal party and let them react to and appreciate how beautiful you look in your full wedding attire.
At this point in your wedding planning process, you have no doubt heard all about the pros and cons of having a first look with your future spouse. But perhaps you have not given a lot of thought to having your bridesmaids see you in your wedding dress for the first time. If that is the case for you, it might be helpful to hear about some of the reasons why that can be a great addition to your wedding day. Here are a few things we tell our brides about this topic:
As you are no doubt discovering, your wedding day timeline fills up quickly! And take it from us when we tell you that nothing is worse than a schedule that has you running around and unable to just enjoy your nuptials.
The good news is that a first look with your bridesmaids barely adds any time to your getting-ready process. Unlike with a first look with your future spouse, you do not have to go to a different location. You just have to walk into another room (or have your bridesmaids re-enter your prep area). Even including the time for you all to share a happy cry, you are not looking at much more than five additional minutes.
The women who will be your bridesmaids have earned that honor for a reason. They are your sisters, your best friends or your cousins -- the only people closer to you in the world are your spouse-to-be and perhaps your parents. Some of your bridesmaids have known you your whole life; others met you more recently. But all of them have played an important role in your life and, in all likelihood, your love story.
For those reasons, you should seek out any ways possible to include them in your marriage celebrations and to let them enjoy a piece of your happiness. And having them see you for the first time in your wedding dress shares your joy and excitement with them in a lovely and meaningful fashion.
Obviously, a first look with your bridesmaids is about more than just showing off your full wedding attire. (Though it is definitely about that!) As we said above, that moment is also about how they are certainly going to react to seeing how beautiful you look. You will treasure those gasps of delight, those screams of excitement and those teary smiles.
And the best part? Your bridesmaids’ emotional reactions will trigger the same in you! If your maid of honor starts crying tears of joy, is there any chance that you will not also have an emotional moment? That you will not tear up and run to give her a hug?
As photojournalistic photographers, we can tell you that a scene turns into an unforgettable documentary wedding photo when it has two main elements. First, the people in the shot should matter a lot to the couple; and second, the moment should be filled with emotional significance. And as we discussed above, this part of a wedding day has both. Which means that bridesmaid first look photos are the kind that will still bring a happy tear to your eye decades after your marriage celebrations.
We know that that is certainly the case for the bride in this photo. We photographed her maid of honor reacting to seeing her fully dressed for the first time in the lovely bridal suite at Fathom Gallery, one of DC’s best wedding venues. And during the viewing of this bride’s full wedding gallery that we organized with her over FaceTime, we saw how her face lit up and heard emotion fill her voice when she came to this photo of her closest friend seeing her completely prepped for her ceremony.
We do want to offer you a bit of advice, though, on how to avoid a common mistake that many brides make when adding this element to their wedding day. There is a temptation to overplan a bridesmaid first look. It is quite understandable, of course. If you are going to devote time to something during your marriage celebration, you want to get the most out of it, right? You want those smiles, tears and emotions. So you think about ways to stage the scene and the moment in ways that guarantee something spectacular in your photos. In your head, you map out where everyone is going to stand and consider the best way to make your big reveal.
As we said, we get the impulse. But the problem with overplanning these kinds of wedding-day moments beforehand is that it can rob them of what makes them special: the emotions. When your bridesmaids know that they are “on” and that they should react a certain way, they might tense up a bit. And when that happens, their emotions become a little forced and less genuine. And that will result in photos of the moment that are not quite what you hoped for.
The solution? Try to keep things as spontaneous and casual as possible. Yes, we know that some planning is necessary. But instead of sketching out everything to the moment, try to just create a general scenario and then let things play out as they will. Maybe do not even tell your bridesmaids that you are going to be doing a first look. Because the more informal you can make it, the more likely it is that you will get beautiful photos like this one.
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