How to plan a first look for your elopement


September 1, 2021

Bride and groom first look at elopement in Hawaii

There’s nothing like seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day. Photographing that joy and love during the first look is one of my favorite parts of being an elopement photographer.  The key to a perfect first look? Planning out what you envision. Does time of day make a difference? Where will it happen? When it comes to how to plan a first look for your elopement, there are so many ways to make it your own. Here are my favorite tips. 

What is a “first look”?

A “first look” is a more modern wedding ritual where you see each other for the very first time on your wedding day, in your outfits, and before the “walking down the aisle” moment. It’s a beautiful, quiet moment before the ceremony to take in your partner in all their beauty. 

Why couples love a first look

During elopements, a first look allows couples to capture that magical moment when they first see each other all dressed up. It’s an emotional and special moment that is totally worth planning to make sure you get some amazing reaction photos. 

How to plan a first look for your elopement

Alana of Wild & Free elopements helping Abbey button her dress before her first look with Austin. Abbey and Austin drove to their elopement together, and changed when they arrived.

How to plan a first look for your elopement – even if you’re getting ready together!

Most couples think eloping means they won’t be able to have any kind of “first look” photos – but that’s not true at all! I’m a pro at being the unofficial bridesmaid and groomswoman and I’ve helped most of my couples button up dresses and pin boutonnieres. I’m still mastering the whole tie-a-tie thing, but I’m a pro at holding the phone while you YouTube it. 😉

Planning a first look during an elopement does take a little bit of creativity, especially if you’re getting ready together. Here are my favorite tips:

How to plan a first look for your elopement

Kiley and Jeremy arrived together, without their “final touches” and had their first look at the beach.

  • Arrive separately: If your location is accessible by car, plan to get ready separately and arrive on your own. One of you takes the car, another takes an Uber. If you’re staying in Waikiki, I can always give one of you a ride! 

Kayla and Ken got ready in the same Airbnb, but ken left before Kayla put her dress on. The photos of Kayla helping Ken get ready were adorable!

  • If you’re arriving together…: You can still have a first look! Plan your first look at your hotel or Airbnb, or ride together and then change when you get to your ceremony location. 

Want more elopement tips? I’m always sharing the goods over on IG @chelseastratso. Follow along to help plan along for your wedding day!

follow the adventures

shop the favs

southern california photography

chelsea stratso