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Destination Wedding Photographer Serving
Orange County, California & Beyond

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I'm a Dog Loving, Step Counting, Travel-Crazy Accountant With A Passion For Photography!

I'm Alaina

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Planning a wedding can be a frustrating journey, as decisions need to be made at every twist and turn. A constant debate in the wedding community is that of having a first look before the ceremony or deciding to go the traditional route and have the first time the couple sees other on the special day be from the aisle. I personally love watching and capturing first look moments, because the genuine love of the couple really gets the chance to shine through! If you’re struggling with the choice and don’t know what might be best for you and your partner, I’m here to help! Keep reading to understand all you need to know about first looks.

What is a First Look?

A first look is a planned chunk of time on your wedding day where you get to have a moment together with your partner before the ceremony begins, and you get to see each other for the first time. This is usually a private moment with just you, your spouse-to-be, and your photographer! It’s an intimate, vulnerable time for a couple to be together before they say “I do”.

Types of First Looks

There are two key types of first looks: a close up tap on the shoulder versus calling your partner’s name from a distance. The choice that you go with here ultimately depends on what you feel comfortable with, but both are sweet options. My personal favorite is the shoulder-tap, because you’ll be immediately close enough to hug your almost-spouse! Whichever one you go with, you’re guaranteed to feel that ease of anxiety as soon as you see the adoring look on your person’s face, and excitement will take over where there may have been nerves!

Why a First Look Can Be Perfect for You and Your Partner

Having some structured one-on-one time with your person can be some of the most sweet, memorable moments of your day. When you opt for a first look, you remove a lot of the pressure that your partner may feel about how they’re expected to react when they see you come down the aisle. Your partner has the chance to just be authentic with you and share some genuine moments without the stress of the rest of the day on them!

On top of the private quality time aspect, having a first look allows for other special events to take place, such as the exchanging of personal vows, should you choose to take advantage of this one-on-one time.

Lastly, choosing to see your partner before the ceremony allows for efficiency in the photography department: we can get a lot of couples portraits and bridal party photos out of the way before the nuptials so that when you’re done, you get more time to enjoy your guests! It’s a win-win.

My Best Friend’s First Look Logic

My best friend is married and she chose to do a first look with her husband. Here’s her perspective:

When I was planning my big day, I knew I needed to do a first look. My husband and I had done long distance for the three months leading up to our wedding, and so we wanted to spend as much of our wedding day together as possible. He’s a pretty anxious human, and he needed that extra ease and reassurance that comes from being around me. If I had made him wait to see me until he was in a jam-packed church, he probably would’ve been sick!

During the actual first look, we got a few minutes to just soak everything in before the planned chaos of the remainder of the day. Looking back, I can still remember what my husband said to me when he saw me for the first time, and I’m glad we have those memories to ourselves.

After we had some time, we were able to do all of the couples and bridal party photos and then have some down time together in our last moments before becoming a married couple. I can still remember how excited we were; we just kept saying, “Is it time yet? Are we married yet?” Ultimately, I was so thankful for that extra quality time enjoying what our wedding was really all about: me and my husband.

Do What’s Best for You

A first look isn’t for every couple, but it might be a good fit for you so it’s worth it to explore the option!! If you want to keep that first look moment with your spouse for the aisle, here’s some food for thought: first looks are precious with any loved ones! Consider a first look with your parents, your bridesmaids, your grandparents, etc! I promise, they’ll be some of your most cherished photos!

Client Praise

-Jacqueline, may 2021

 "I walked away from my session wanting to put her in my pocket to boost my self esteem all day long because she just made me feel like the most beautiful person in the room.

"Working with Alaina was effortless"

-Brooke, July 2021

"The second I met her, I felt like I had known her forever, which made it a million times easier to just be ourselves in front of the camera.

"Her personality made it for me."

- Tracie, October 2021 bride

Alaina is spunky and fun and full of great ideas. She made my fiance and I feel so comfortable during our engagement session. We loved all the candid photos she caught of us

"She had us laughing the whole time"

© Alaina Elizabeth Photography LLC