My First Look Photo Shoot & 5 Tips for Yours

I’ve been wanting to share more of my recent wedding with my blog readers, so today I’m sharing all the details about my First Look Photo shoot. I’m also going to tell you 5 tips for a gorgeous first look photo shoot, so you can learn from my mistakes!

My First Look Photo Shoot Plus 5 Tips for Yours!

The Importance of a Wedding Planner

Before we get to the photos and my tips for a successful First Look Photo Shoot, I need to tell you about my amazing wedding planner, Rachael Ellen. You can find her on Instagram @rachaelellenevents or on her website here. Rachael played a huge role in planning my wedding and this photo shoot.  She was great to have on my team because she did the errands and phone calls I just didn’t have time for.

Why I loved our first look photos.

Rachael also coordinated my hair and makeup appointments for me for my formal shoot. And she made sure the videographer, photographer, and my flowers all showed up at the right time for the shoot. If I needed anything, she was right there for me. It made the day so much less stressful knowing that it had been coordinated with all of the small, moving pieces and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not something had been taken care of. 

I’m excited to share the photos from our actual wedding so you can see how many layers there were with putting everything together and how seamlessly everything came together. Her and her team were so amazing at all of it. I highly recommend her if you are planning a wedding. 

Tips for gorgeous bridal photos

My Photographer & Videographer for my First Look Photo Shoot

Jordi has been my personal photographer for a few years now. She shot all of my Flourish products for me when I launched my business. I really love her work and she’s really been there for me over the past few years. She’s so talented at capturing the raw emotions and candid moments that I love seeing on film. You can find Jordi on Instagram @jordijeraephotography

My videographer, Krissi, and I went to college together and she’s taken videos of my family when my kids were little. She’s been helping me with Flourish as well as my other businesses. Find her on Instagram @krissicookfilmsandphoto.

Having both of these amazing women there with me and Matt during our bridal photo shoot was very special for me. It felt like we had come full circle in so many ways.

Minimalist backdrop in Utah for first look photosession

First Look Photo Shoot Location

I had a really hard time nailing down where I wanted to do my formal bridal pictures because I really love the mountain views and I also really love Dead Horse Point State Park. There were several other options that I looked at near me here in Utah, as well. In the end, I went with the Little Sahara Recreation Area because it was a really clean look and backdrop. I really wanted Matt and I to be the main focal point of our photos. I’m so happy with my choice because the pictures turned out perfect.

Matt & Abby's First Look Session

Dress, Hair, Makeup, Nails

For my makeup, I worked with Marisa Rose. You can find her on Instagram here. I chose her because she does such a timeless look for brides. And I gravitated toward her personality. She’s so kind. Be on the lookout for a makeup tutorial with my bridal look soon! It’s almost done. I loved my makeup for my wedding so much I started using a few of the products in my daily routine.

First Look Photo Shoot

My hair was done by Bailey Schiess. Find Bailey’s work on Instagram here. I met Bailey when she participated in a Braid Bar with me at the last meet and greet. I love her work and I trusted her from having seen her work in person. For my wedding hairstyle, I put a few inspiration pics together for Bailey and she did a great job! To help my braid look more full, we added some @lacedhairextensions for extra volume. 

I remember when I was getting my hair done, I was trying to not stress about all the little things and was so excited to see Matt later that day for our photo shoot.

tips for getting great first look photos no matter where you live.

My hair piece was by Hair and Makeup by Steph. It was a gift from Bailey.

My dress was bought locally here in Utah. I had a little trouble getting it in time for my First Look Photo Shoot, so I had to get it altered very quickly to have it for the pictures. 

My nails were done by @nailsbykaiti. I  gave her a picture of some florals that I loved and she put them together. They were perfect. See how she painted them here.  

How to enjoy your first look photo session

Why I Chose To Have a First Look Photo Shoot

In my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we typically get married in the Temple and there’s really no walking down the aisle. By doing a separate bridal/formal photo session before the wedding ceremony, it gives couples the chance to really see each other in their wedding attire before the big day and share some special moments together without the craziness of family and guests around. It lets couples spend more time with guests on the wedding day, too. 

How to get gorgeous first look photos

Matt and I wanted our wedding jitters out of the way while still capturing the moment. With our 6 kids participating in our wedding and walking down the aisle with me,  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the chaos. Our First Look photo shoot was the perfect moment for us to connect. It was so nice to be alone together and really connect with each other. 

5 Tips for a Gorgeous First Look Photo Shoot

We both became emotional

Before Matt turned around and saw me, we shared a few things with each other that we love about each other. It was a moment where I was so excited and giddy and nervous and grateful that I was in this moment in my life. With everything we’ve both gone through to be here, it was a culminating moment that needed to be celebrated.

I remember that I was already emotional before he even turned around. All the things we’d worked for over the past year and the hard things we had been through together and separately all came together in that moment. We both became emotional. 

How to get gorgeous first look photos

I took a deep breath and knew I was in the right place. All those little things didn’t matter. Whether or not the dress was perfect, or my lipstick was the right long wear formula, or the flowers were perfect; it didn’t matter in that moment. Because we were together. We had found our way together and to each other. 

Abby's first look photo session

The photographer, Jordi, and videographer, Krissi, did a great job capturing that moment and the emotions we felt. They’ve done this for a long time and were total professionals. I highly recommend them. 

Lessons I learned from my first look photo session

Words of Advice

I shared these words on a recent Instagram post, and I want them documented here on my blog, as well.

“The reality is that marriage is work. On Instagram we see most couples highlight reels. We feel the love and chemistry, we see how kind and passionate the relationships can be. I have learned that behind every happy couple there is also pain, disappointment, discouragement, unmet expectations and misunderstandings. Those things aren’t as easy to show but they are real and just as important to acknowledge. ⁣

This is our take two. ⁣

Our previous marriages unraveled before our very eyes… we each thought we could save them. We dug in and fought so hard. At the end of the day, I learned the only person I could make happy was myself. The only person I could ask to show up and change was myself. ⁣

We know the heartbreak. We know the risks and with eyes wide open we jumped in anyway because we also know the extreme joy being in a healthy relationship can bring.⁣

We’re not promised tomorrow. Drop your ego and lean into your insecurities. Choose to see the other side, show up with patience, with humility and extreme compassion for yourself and your partner and never ever forget that you always have a choice 💕. Thanks for jumping in with me babe, I love you.”

Abby's first look photo session

5 Tips to have a great First Look Photo Session:

If you are planning your own wedding and looking to have a First Look Photo Session, here are 5 tips for having a great session and getting the results you want.

Matt and Abby's first look photos

1-Make sure your outfits are ready to go early. 

Learn from my mistakes. I was waiting on my dress to come in, and it got there the day before our First Look photo session. This made the alterations rushed and it was stressful. I’d recommend you make sure everything is ready to go at least a few days before your photo session.

2- Do a trial run with your hair and makeup beforehand. 

I didn’t do this because I knew what I wanted and I knew my artists personally. But, if you aren’t sure what look you want, or you don’t know your artists personally already, be sure to do a trial run. 

Matt & Abby's formal photo session

3-Hair and Lash Extensions can make a big difference in photos.

Hair Extensions can make your hair look better in photos, especially if you’re wanting to do a style with lots of volume and movement. I used @lacedhairextensions in my hair to help my braid look more full and stand out more. This same idea goes for false lashes. They are great for amping up your look for the big day and helping your eyes stand out in all of the photos. 

My tips for a great first look photo session

4- Make sure you have a full tank of gas

This might seem like a silly tip, but you will be driving a lot of places during your wedding week and you don’t have time to be stuck on the side of the road without gas in your car.

5- Don’t forget why you are doing all of this.

On the way to wherever you’re going, whether it’s your wedding photos or your actual wedding, take a minute and remember why you love your partner. Get in the mindset of why that person means so much to you and why you want to spend your life with them. Then, when you are with your fiance, focus on being in the moment with your person. Try to just breathe and enjoy the moment. This will come through in your photos.

Abby & Matt's First Look Photo Shoot

Would I Recommend Doing a First Look Photo Shoot?

I’d definitely recommend doing a First Look photo shoot for anyone who wants to have a few quiet moments with their future spouse before the wedding. I’ll forever treasure the photos we took during our photo shoot. Seeing Matt in his suit without the chaos and jitters of our wedding day really helped me pause and appreciate our relationship.

Since we’ve both been married before, I feel like we know how precious a good marriage is. We are going into this together, with our children, and we can feel the weight of our responsibilities weighing heavily on us most days. But this day? It was just us, two people in love, excited for our future together, and so proud of how hard we have fought to be here. 

To see more of our photo shoot, check out these vlogs I shared on my YouTube channel: 

First Look Getting Ready Vlog

Wedding Formals: Our First Look

Abby Smith

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