One of the most anticipated moments of a wedding is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time. The excitement and emotions surrounding this moment are extremely special, and some couples feel that seeing each other for the first time on this day in front of a crowd may not be what feels right for them. The time-honored tradition of waiting to see each other until the wedding is not for everyone, but it's perfect for some couples!

One of our favorite Tahoe wedding photographer's Holly Shankland is guest posting today all about a 'First Look.' She shares what she loves about these intimate moments, if they are right for you, and how she captures the emotions behind them. 

I often get asked if couples should do a first look. For some, the term 'First Look' may be new, so I am here to share with you today the magic that is a First Look. A First Look is a private moment designed for just the two of you. It's a beautiful time to slow down, take a moment, and be quiet with one another. This can be the perfect opportunity to share private vows that may feel intimidating to say during your ceremony. Your wedding day can come with some anxiety, fear, and nerves. I think that's all normal! If you decide to have a first look, from there on out, you're in it together! 

Some couples share letters that set mutual intentions for their future or share some words of what their future spouse and this commitment mean to them. Love and marriage are so different for each one of us, and I feel like that should be expressed in each couple's own way. I've even had couples sit down and relax with a glass of whiskey together! I think so often wedding days can come with a lot of distractions and it's important to remember that this day is about you and your love for one another. Your wedding day may feel like it's going by so quickly; creating intentional time to be together is essential. I also think time alone together on your wedding day is so valuable! I have several clients who say that the first look was one of their favorite moments of the day.

You have planned for months and months and dreamed this day up. You have tons of family and friends to catch up with, makeup, champagne, speeches, DJs, photographers, coordinating, schedules, where to be, and when. It can be easy to have a full mind, getting pulled in many directions. Cake, flowers, and food are great, but what will still be around in twenty years? The two of you! Creating and setting a foundation, being intentional, is what it's all about. I believe that the power of love is felt when we slow down.

First looks generally take place an hour or two before the ceremony. One nice benefit of having a first look is that it splits up the time you end up taking photos. If you decide to have a first look, you can also have your wedding party photos taken beforehand, allowing more time for drinks with friends after the ceremony.

Typically we look for a private shaded area nearby. I do my best to hold space so that this is truly an intimate and special time for just the two of you. I generally shoot from a distance for the first few minutes. Letting you share stories, tears, promises, and each other's touch. 

Don't be afraid to cry! Tears are all the words we don't know how to say. You can always schedule a makeup touchup just before the ceremony. Just remember to talk to your makeup artist and schedule it into your day.

After you both have your moment, I might make slight adjustments so that you are in good lighting, or coach a tiny bit on poses. Mostly, I'm just encouraging you to hold on to one another, maybe close your eyes and soak into the present moment.

I usually invite the wedding party (if you have one) to join us after your photos are complete! The timeline varies for every couple and every wedding, but typically you can budget around 20 minutes for your first look and 20 minutes for photos with your wedding party. Depending on family size and what combinations are important to you, family photos typically take place after the ceremony and last about 15 minutes. 

After this, most of the formal photos are complete. I say formal because they are planned, but my shooting style is far from formal! I try to make all photo sessions fun, loose, and natural! We listen to music, dance, and explore. I hope that even the "photo moments" are some of your favorite moments.

So, should you have a first look? Do what is best and right for you! I encourage all my couples to break the norm, try something new, respecting their wishes, traditions, and hobbies.

I think it's totally fine if you do not want to have a first look. Some more traditional couples may prefer to see each other for the first time when the Bride is walking down the aisle! This way can build excitement and ends up being a shared moment with all your friends and family. I always say it's your wedding, and you can make it however you want it to be. Some people are more private with their love, and some are more outwardly expressive. You do you!

The biggest advice I can give to any couple is to slow down, soak in every moment, and create a day that is all your own!

We are so grateful for Holly and her helpful advice on whether or not a 'First Look' is for you. Learn more about Holly and her gorgeous work on the Tahoe Unveiled vendor guide and make sure you check out her Instagram page as well!