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The Daddy-Daughter First Look Explained | DC Wedding Photographer

Wedding Tips

My Dad at our Daddy-Daughter First Look | Photo by Katelyn James Photography

Tomorrow is the birthday of a very special man in my life… my daddy! I am a shameless daddy’s girl, because I truly have the best of them. My dad is my rock – has been for my whole life. So, in honor of his birthday, I wanted to share my experience at my Daddy-Daughter First Look at my wedding, as well as break down some tips for planning this special moment on your wedding day with your father.

What Is A Daddy-Daughter First Look

First things first, if you are a newly engaged bride, maybe this concept is new to you. There are so many terms in wedding world that it can get confusing. The idea of a First Look is the first time certain people in your wedding see you in your bridal attire. Usually it refers to your First Look with your groom, a somewhat new tradition where the groom sees you before the ceremony. But the Daddy-Daughter First Look is a moment that happens shortly after stepping into your wedding dress. And it’s reserved for the man who loved you first… your dad!

My ‘Daddy-Daughter First Look’ Experience

My Dad at our Daddy-Daughter First Look | Photo by Katelyn James Photography

The morning of my wedding was not quite how I pictured it. It was filled with a flurry of bittersweet emotions. I remember being so in my head that I couldn’t enjoy time with my bridesmaids like I wanted to. I was rushing around trying to remember all the little things I had to bring with me to the venue. And I also was being fussed over to get my hair and makeup done.

But when time came to step into my dress, it was just me, my mom, and my photographers. Once I was zipped and buttoned in, my photographer brought me my bouquet and fluffed the train of my dress. Trying to breathe, I stood in the middle of my mom and dad’s bedroom. I knew what was coming next. I knew it might be the first tears of the day.

My mom shuffled out of the room to check on last minute details while my photographer left to get my dad. I stood there, looking down at my bouquet trying to keep my composure. I knew my dad might be feeling as nervous as I did. We had both talked about this day since I was little – since I was innocently and youthfully convinced that I’d just marry daddy so I never had to leave him.

My photographer snuck back in through the door and quickly closed it. I knew that Dad was on the other side by the way she hurriedly shuffled through. She looked at me smiling and asked if I was ready. One more deep breath and a nod. I stared at the door determined not to cry yet but could already feel the heat rushing to my face.

I called out to my dad to give him permission to enter. He was already smiling, but I saw the moment it registered on his face that he saw me. His giddy grin turned into a beaming smile, which then melted into tears. He walked toward me and wrapped me so tight in his arms. Locked there, we both just sobbed. And he told me how beautiful I looked.

I could only hear our stifled sobs and breathy chuckles, and the click-click of my photographer’s camera. The images from that moment perfect capture everything. When we finally pulled away, it was just taking in every detail. Me checking out the pink tie I picked for him, and him rubbing my shoulder and taking in the details of my dress. Dad had really dressed up – even put on a gold tie bar and his Tiger’s eye ring. For someone as plain dressed as my dad, I knew this attention to detail meant he was excited and really wanted to celebrate this occasion in a special way.

My Dad at our Daddy-Daughter First Look | Photo by Katelyn James Photography
My Dad and me at our Daddy-Daughter First Look | Photo by Katelyn James Photography

How to Plan Your Daddy-Daughter First Look

This is easily one of my favorite parts of a wedding day to capture. Not only does it brings back sweet memories of my own special moment with my dad, but I know I’m able to document that memory for so many other brides too.

As a wedding photographer, I do my best to make sure this moment is not rushed. If you have a close relationship with your dad, this should be a sweet time for the two of you. Here’s my recommendations to protect this time in your timeline to make it extra special!

Leave plenty of time in your wedding day timeline.

Nothing kills a sweet moment like running late. Wedding days fly by fast, take it from me! The nerves and emotion can make it seem even more fleeting. If you’re a daddy’s girl, be sure to pad your timeline with enough time to give you and your dad a special moment together. It may be your only moment alone to talk throughout the entire day.

I recommend at least 10-15 minutes set aside for this part of the day, with additional time to move to and from that location to the next part of the day.

Make it as private as it can be.

Decide between you and your dad who you want to be present for your First Look. Maybe you’re also close with your mom and want to allow her to stay to see it unfold. Or maybe she already got her special time with you and you want it to be just you two. Some brides are not that close with their dad and don’t mind bridesmaids still being in the room.

It’s all up to you! Make sure to think and talk through it together.

Wear the whole ensemble.

To give your dad the full effect of seeing his daughter as a bride, wear everything! Veil, jewelry, shoes, and hold the bouquet. I made the mistake of not wearing my veil, because I wanted to leave that for the aisle. (I later came to regret that decision when the veil fell out mid-aisle because it wasn’t pinned into my hair by my hair stylist.) Luckily my dad still reacted just as I expected. But this is your chance to show off the whole bridal look and get his reaction to everything at once!

I hope this post was helpful! I recognize not every bride has a great relationship with her father, or even gets the chance to have her father present on her wedding day. That said, there are ways to take these tips to have a special moment with the next closest father-figure or influence in your life and still experience many of the same emotions.

If you’d like more wedding planning tips, check out these posts next!

Calling all Daddy's girl brides!!

How to plan a Daddy-Daughter First Look on your wedding day. 

I share my own Dad's First Look story while also highlighting the tips I recommend for making this moment extra special. Make dad's day by including him in a special way on your wedding day.

Read my tips in the blog post here!

#DadsFirstLook #DaddyDaughterFirstLook #WeddingPlanningTips #VAWeddingPhotographer

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