The moment when a couple sees each other before the ceremony has become a must-do photo op, but the father-daughter first look has stolen our hearts. Since the father of the bride is one of the first to see the bride before she walks down the aisle, why not capture the look on his face when he sees his daughter all done up in her bridal best?
"The first time a father sees his daughter dressed as a bride is one of the few occasions when he can get sentimental without everyone watching him,” says Brian Dorsey of Brian Dorsey Studios. “By coordinating a low-key, private reveal, your photographer can capture that split second of tender emotion that dads are so rarely willing to expose."
Making a "plan" for the first look can help you get a priceless photo. Check out these tips from wedding planners and photographers for getting the perfect shot. Then scroll down to see our roundup of proud papas on their daughter's big day.
Set Aside Time for the Photo
Have your wedding planner or photographer schedule in time for the first look with your dad. “We always try to budget 15 minutes for a first look with the FOB right after photos of the bride getting ready and before her first look with the groom,” says Lori Stephenson of Lola Event Productions.
It's easy to get caught up in the fast pace of the big day, but taking a first look photo with your father can help you relax and feel a little less anxious before the wedding begins. Plus, it can be very symbolic since it’s a longstanding tradition for the father and bride to share a moment before the ceremony. “I’ve seen so many brides and dads burst into tears during the first look, so allowing yourselves a few minutes will get some of the emotion out of the way so that you can be collected and in the moment for the walk down the aisle,” says Stephenson.
“It’s a good idea for your dad to be dressed for the wedding before you are so that he looks formal for the first look photo, and your photographer may also be able to get a few beautiful portraits of you together if time permits,” says Emilia Schobeiri of Emilia Jane Photography.
Choose the Setting
Think of where you want the first look to be photographed, where you’ll be standing, and who you want in the room. “It's often easier to either have your dad come to where you're getting ready or have a place picked out at the ceremony site,” says Steve Koo of Steve Koo Photography. If you’re having the first look in the room where you got dressed, keep the room as neat as possible. Wherever you decide on, try to pick a spot with plenty of good light, which always helps for a great picture.
“Consider getting ready at your favorite hotel or in a beautiful room, which helps make the day more special as well as provides a nice backdrop for wonderful photos,” says Judith Rae of Judith Rae Photography. If you’re expecting an emotional moment, it might be best not to do your first look with a large audience. “Having a dozen bridesmaids in the room may hamper the authenticity of your parents' reaction to the moment,” says Arielle Doneson of Arielle Doneson Photography.
Have Your Photographer Be at the Ready
You want this photo to be 100 percent natural, so it's key for your photographer to be close by and ready at all times. “You never know what's going to happen,” says Jordan Voth of Jordan Voth Photography. “At one wedding, I was contemplating running ahead to set up before the ceremony, but I'm glad I decided to stick close to the bride because I would have missed taking an amazing photo of her dad hugging her when he saw her for the first time in her wedding dress.”
Ready for some inspiration? Here are 23 of our favorite photos of father-daughter first looks—we dare you not to get misty-eyed!
This bride surprised her father during their first look moment, and there was nothing but pride from dad. We love this capture as father and daughter are about to hug.
We love the raw emotion in this photo as the bride sneaks up on her dad. This is the perfect way to surprise him as he turns around for a first look.
Nothing but smiles on this bride's wedding day. And, of course, all smiles from dad after that first look, too!
Twice as Nice
These two brides decided to combine their father-daughter first looks into one happy moment. Their dads' reactions simply do not disappoint.
Sharing a Special Bond
Is there anything sweeter? That irreplaceable bond between a daughter and her father is the very reason to do a first look wedding photo.
Capturing a Shot for Himself
We love the way the photographer captured this moment! This father of the bride was so excited to see his daughter that he had to take a photo of her himself.
An Emotional Moment
This father of the bride was totally wowed by his little girl on her big day. But he wasn't the only one showing emotion. She simply couldn’t hold back the tears either.
A Stolen Kiss
A girl's very first knight in shining armor is always good ol' dad. We love this shot of him giving his little girl a final peck on the cheek before walking her down the aisle and turning over his gallant role.
A Jaw-Dropping Occasion
How adorable is this father of the bride? From the proud look on his face to his dapper suit, this dad is as happy as can be.
A Teary-Eyed Squeeze
Thankfully, the photographer decided to stay close to the bride right before the ceremony and was able to catch this moment with her dad. A teary-eyed hug is the special moment every bride needs right before walking down the aisle.
A Sweet Father-Daughter Memory
This bride chose to do a traditional first look of having her dad turn around to see her, and it made for such a sweet photo. We just love the big smile on dad's face.
A Warm Embrace
After the first look, it's definitely a special moment. What a beautiful spot for this father of the bride to take a minute and hold on to his daughter.
Taking It All In
Bride Lauren can barely contain her excitement as she reveals her bridal look. We love how her dad is relishing the moment, not letting a single detail escape him.
A Frame-Worthy Capture
This is such a touching, gorgeous shot between the bride and her dad that makes us want to cry and ooh at the same time. Talk about a picture-perfect moment.
A Kiss on the Cheek
You're never too old for a kiss on the cheek from dad. We love this capture of such a meaningful moment before walking the aisle.
Laughing and Crying
You know it’s going to be a perfect wedding day when you and your best buddy start it off with laughing and crying at the same time. We love the way the raw emotions of this special bond were captured here.
Making an Entrance
There's no rule against making an entrance, especially for dad! This bride turned her father-daughter first look into quite the dramatic reveal.
An Act of Chivalry
Once a gentleman, always a gentleman. We love how this dad awaited his daughter with a bouquet of flowers in hand.
A Hug at Home
Why not plan that first look somewhere truly meaningful? We love the idea of staging the scene at home in front of a portrait.
Sign of Approval
Let's be honest, dads aren't always at the forefront of fashion. With a statement dress like this blush confection, it's hard to gauge their sartorial approval. This papa, however, seems seriously impressed!
Cue the Waterworks
The father-daughter first look is a real turning point in the wedding day: It's when everything starts to feel real. It's no surprise that this dad couldn't contain the emotions when getting a first peek at his daughter in her full bridal glory.
A First Look Down the Stairs
If your venue allows, coming down the stairs after getting ready creates a beautiful sense of anticipation. But what makes it even more special is having dad waiting for you at the bottom.
A Dad Hug
Everyone knows that dads give the best hugs. It's a fact. We can't help but love this shot of an especially tender embrace.