First Looks with Michael Briggs Photography
First Looks with Michael Briggs Photography

First Looks with Michael Briggs Photography


“First Looks” are a modern-day wedding trend that throws tradition to the wayside – seeing a couple take a private moment on their wedding day to see one another ahead of their impending ceremony.

More recently, the “First Look” concept has grown in popularity, and is often favoured by photographers and couples keen to document the emotional first glimpse, away from prying eyes. For some, it helps ease nerves and allows more time in their day to spend time with their guests, yet for others they fear it may take away from the magic of the day.

When exploring the idea, we figured who better to enlist but Yarra Valley wedding photographer and Tribe favourite, Michael Briggs, who shares his experience with first looks and some important things to consider when deciding if it might be right for you.



First looks have become a bit of a wedding trend Briggsy – firstly, tell us what is a first look?

In short, a first look is when you see each other and get majority, or all, of your couple portraits (and usually the bridal party portraits) done and out of the way before the ceremony.



We know you have been a real advocate of the ‘first look’ and you’ve certainly captured some memorable moments, so what are the pros?

You get to spend more time together on your wedding day and you get to spend more time with your guests on your wedding day.  Because once the ceremony is done – it’s party time !  There’s no ‘going off for photos’ – because you’ve already done them all.

When you chose to do a first look, the first time you see each other as bride and/or groom on your wedding day – is your moment.  It belongs to no one else. And when you first see each other, you can talk, kiss, high five, laugh, cry, etc – without any reservation – as opposed to at the start of the ceremony – where everyone is watching and you might be unsure of what you can or can’t do in front of everyone.  Therefore, for the right type of people – a first look can often take away a lot of those ‘pre ceremony’ nerves.

Also, if your wedding is not during daylight savings, the amount of daylight time you have after the ceremony can often be very limited.  So unless you want all of your couple portraits to be done at night; a first look can be a great idea to get your portraits done during daylight hours in natural light.



There’s some fear that a first look might take away some magic from the day? What are your thoughts on this?

That’s the most common rebuttal in regards to first looks.  ‘But won’t it ruin the moment when the bride (or groom) walks down the aisle for the first time?’

My answer to that is a resounding ‘no’.  It won’t ‘ruin that moment’ as you would imagine.  In nearly 300 weddings I’ve photographed, I’d say close to one third of those couples have chosen to do a first look.  So I’ve seen a few, haha.

And if you are looking for genuine, real emotion, tears, unguarded moments, etc, a first look is the easiest place to find all of this.  It’s such a beautiful part of the day to capture as a photographer.  Even the most camera shy people in the world completely forget that I’m there during that moment, when they first see each other as bride and/or groom.

I would confidently say that emotions without doubt run higher and are much more real during a first look, as opposed to the ‘aisle’ at the beginning of the ceremony.



So, tell us straight Briggsy, what do you consider the cons of a first look?

The pros far outweigh the cons in my opinion, however there’s a few things to take into consideration when deciding if a first look is for you, or not.



The biggest thing to consider is this – the light and the heat.  If you’re getting married in the Summer months, and your ceremony is at 4pm for example, that means you might start doing your first look portraits at around 2:30pm in the afternoon.  Remembering it can often get to 40 plus degrees in the summertime in Melbourne… So, trying to take romantic couple photos right in the heat of the day, in the glaring sun – is doable, but I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘ideal conditions’.


The best time to do your couple portraits, at anytime of year is the one hour before the sun sets. Most weddings that’s not possible, especially during Summer.  That’s why us photographers often steal couples from their reception for 10 minutes during sunset for the ‘golden light’.  And couples have usually had a few more champagnes by then, resulting in fun portraits where they’ve let their inhibitions go a little more!


First look photos are also usually done at the same venue where the ceremony/reception is (if everything is all onsite at the one place), so of course you want your wedding photos to be taken there, that’s where you chose to get married!  But with every wedding, there will be guests who start arriving about 45-60 minutes early.  You know those keen as mustard aunts with their iPad cameras?  They’re the first ones there.  So often some brides and bridesmaids, really don’t want to be seen by their guests prior to the ceremony.  Therefore, if you’re doing first look photos around the property at your venue, it’s kind of inevitable that you’re going to be seen by some of your guests.  And that really bothers some couples.


No matter what happens on a wedding day, the brides dress will get dirty.  Especially if you’re getting married outdoors.  This sounds blunt, but it’s usually a white dress dragging down on brown earth, you’ve kind of got to expect (and accept) it.  Post ceremony, 95% of brides I’ve dealt with, are super happy to let go and get dirty.  And that’s why dry cleaners exist!  But before the ceremony, I completely get why you’d want to keep your dress as clean as possible.  So again, if you’re doing outdoor photos at your venue before the ceremony, your dress is pretty likely to get dirty.  This may bother some people a lot, and others – not one bit.




The Michael Briggs First Look low-down wrap-up?

I heard a great analogy recently about first looks –  it’s kind of like when a couple are having a baby; some couples choose to find out the sex before the birth, others wait until the baby is born.  Either way – it’s still going to be pretty damn exciting and special when you meet your little bundle of joy for the first time !  The same applies to first looks. You’ll know what’s right for you.

The most important thing to remember on your wedding day is – do whatever you want to do!  If you want do a first look, do it ! If you want to go the traditional option – do that !   And if you’re happy on your wedding day, because you are doing what the two of you want to do; that infectious happiness rubs off onto everyone else – your suppliers, your guests, your bridal party. And your wedding day will be amazing !



Can you see now exactly why we love this man? For a photographer that ticks all the boxes, see more of Michael’s magic work here



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