How to Do a First Look With Your Bridal Party

This moment will make the getting-ready process even more memorable.

Bride showing off her wedding dress to her bridesmaids

Photo by Shannon Skloss

After hours and hours of attending bridal salon appointments and trying on countless wedding dresses, there’s no better feeling than finally slipping on your gown on the morning of your big day. Since so much thought goes into selecting your getup, it deserves its own special moment. Of course, revealing your outfit to your partner for the first time before you swap vows is momentous, but showing off your attire to your bridesmaids and bridesmen is just as noteworthy. So, why not plan a first look with your bridal party?

Sharing a first look with your squad is a popular trend that’s taking over the wedding world at the moment. “We’re finding a trend towards intentionality in all aspects of the wedding day,” planner Tory Smith explains. “Our clients want to create special crescendo moments for their nearest and dearest, to make the day feel truly theirs and unforgettable for their guests. A bridesmaids first look is a fun opportunity for your girls to feel loved on, and in turn, they’ll be your major hype girls!”

What Is a Bridal Party First Look?

A bridal party first look is when a bride waits to reveal her wedding dress to her bridesmaids and bridesmen until the morning of her big day after she has gotten ready.

From getting glam to strapping on your heels, getting ready is usually a busy and hectic part of the pre-wedding festivities. Setting aside quality time with your closest friends and family is a chance to push pause, savor the moment, bond with your squad, and create lasting memories. If you’re feeling anxious about your walk down the aisle, flaunting your ensemble will help ease your nerves. Doing a first look with your bridesmaids also lends itself to candid photos since your photographer will capture everyone’s reactions in real time—whether it’s excitement or tears of happiness.

If you’re looking for another way to make your wedding even more meaningful, a first look with your bridal party will deliver. Here’s everything you need to know about the trend, from expert-approved tips to common pitfalls.

Meet the Expert

  • Tory Smith is the owner and creative director of Smith + James based in Los Angeles. She’s been working in the wedding industry for nine years.
  • Elana Walker is a certified wedding planner and the owner of Elana Walker Events, which she launched in 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

How to Do a First Look With Your Bridesmaids

Showing off your wedding look is a fun and emotional part of the morning that will go a long way. Luckily, you don’t have to completely sacrifice primping with your support system for the grand reveal. Kick off your morning together by lounging around in matching pajamas or robes, while sipping champagne. Then, have your hair and makeup team work their magic.

After snapping a few getting-ready photos, make your way over to a different room to put on your dress and accessories, according to planner Elana Walker. Your bridal party will change into their attire at the same time, but in a separate location. Once everyone is ready to go, step back into the room and wait for their reaction.

Important Tips to Follow

Although doing a bridal party first look doesn’t require too much planning and preparation, here are some tips to keep in mind, so the big reveal goes smoothly.

Be Mindful of Timing

The last thing you want is to feel rushed on your wedding day. Factoring in ample prep time will alleviate unnecessary stress and prevent any unwanted ceremony delays. Although a bridal party first look seems efficient, it actually takes more time than you’d think. “Time goes into getting the ladies to the reveal spot and getting them set up for the photos that will be taken,” Walker shares. Remember to discuss your plans with your planner, photographer, and videographer, so they can plan accordingly and block off enough time on your timeline.

Make Sure You Have Enough Space

In order to keep your wedding look a secret from your bridal party, you’ll need a private place to change and a separate spot for them to get dressed. Telling your squad to retreat to a cramped hallway isn’t going to cut it. When selecting your bridal suite, remember to ask about the space. If you’re getting ready at a hotel, reserve multiple rooms or adjoining rooms, so you can put your outfit on discreetly. Another ideal location is a private property or home with several rooms. Regardless of the location, you’ll want to select one that’s climate-controlled and comfortable.

Communicate Expectations

The morning of your wedding day is usually frantic, so little details might slip your mind. Since mysteriously disappearing after you’ve done your hair and makeup will spark some confusion, don’t forget to tell your bridesmaids that you’ll be getting ready separately. It’s also important to let them know that while you put on your dress, they’ll need to change into their outfits as well, so the attire isn’t inconsistent.

Consider Hiring a Bridal Stylist

Since snapping authentic photos is one of the highlights of a first look with your bridal party, you’ll want everyone to look their best. Smith suggests working with a stylist, so everyone’s outfits look pristine. “We highly recommend bringing on a day-of stylist to manage the steaming of your wedding dress and your bridal party’s, too,” she advises.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

From poor lighting to unnatural expressions, these are some pitfalls to steer clear of when flaunting your wedding look for the first time to your bridesmaids.

Getting Ready in Harsh Lighting

There’s nothing worse than ruining a photo’s potential than harsh shadows and dimly lit spaces. Yes, your photographer will use their skills and techniques to troubleshoot, but it’s best to host your first look in a location that features lots of natural light. 

Forgetting to Clean Your Suite

Another culprit that leads to disappointing pictures? A messy site. “If you’re going to do it in a getting-ready suite, make sure it has been cleaned up prior to the reveal,” Walker notes. “You don’t want clutter in your photos.” After changing into your attire, fold up your pajamas, push your bags out of the way, and throw away any trash, so your photos look polished.

Forcing a Reaction

It’s only normal that you’d want to nail your bridal party first look. But, if your expectations are too high, you might not get the reaction you’ve been hoping for. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your crew,” Smith says. “Avoid making it feel too orchestrated.” If the first look feels forced, the photos will look unnatural

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