While first looks are becoming more and more popular as both an opportunity to have a few quiet moments together before the celebrations begin and to get some extra pictures done before the ceremony, it isn't for everyone. Some couples still choose to stick to tradition, spending the night before the wedding apart and seeing one another for the first time as they reach the altar. If you fall into the latter camp and are skipping your first look, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Our experts are here to break it down for you!
If you're not having a first look, the biggest thing to be aware of is your timeline. Sure, you can do pictures with your bridesmaids and immediate family before you walk down the aisle, but you'll need to include extra time post-ceremony for things like your couple portraits, photos of the entire wedding party, and pictures of your families with the two of you. When you're making your must-have photo list with your photographer, work with him or her to break down what you'll be able to get beforehand and what you'll have to save until after your "I dos." Depending on how long your list is, you may want to discuss having your photographer bring a second-shooter to help get as many pre-ceremony pictures done as possible so you're not left missing all of cocktail hour.
See More: The Pros and Cons of Having a First Look
Your timeline should also include specifics to help keep the two of you apart before the ceremony. If you're staying at the same hotel, schedule your walks or drives to the ceremony venue to happen 10-15 minutes apart, so you can get through the lobby (and into your ceremony venue!) without bumping into one another. Make sure there is a room you can head to where you'll be out of sight — most houses of worship have a bridal suite or meeting room that's designated for the bride, where she can tuck away with her 'maids until all the guests are seated.
Do you want to save the "look" for the aisle, but still wish you could have a moment together before you exchange vows? There are a few alternative ideas that make for sweet pictures without ruining the surprise. One is to stand on either side of a doorway or around a corner and hold hands. You can exchange notes, talk to one another, say a prayer, or do whatever will help calm your nerves. Another option is to have your groom positioned somewhere with a blindfold on, then have the bride walk out and stand back-to-back with him. You'll be able to touch and speak to one another, but your dress will still be a big surprise!