First looks make a lot of sense for many timelines. They give you and your partner a private moment to connect in an otherwise jam-packed day, and give your photographers a chance to capture some formal portraits without eating into your cocktail hour. First looks help ease the time crunch on your entire evening. But if you want your dress to look new when you walk down the aisle, how can you protect it during your first look, especially if you're outdoors?
Scout Your Location Carefully Ahead of Time
Where you have your first look will have a big impact on the potential impact to your dress.
Scouting your first look setting ahead of time is super helpful (and especially for the photos, so you can make sure you're picking a spot with beautiful natural light). Taking the time to think through a preferred location, and selecting a back-up option in case of inclement weather, can help you feel more comfortable and confident for the moment itself.
You'll want to take in the conditions – is it super dusty? Prone to flooding? Will it get muddy if it rains between now and the wedding day? Is there a nice walking path that will be easy to maneuver in the shoes of your choosing? Consider the route to get there, too.
Make sure your photographers are in the loop, and keep an eye out for any potential dress hazards along the way!
Minimize Walking to Protect Your Wedding Dress Hem
The less walking around you do, the less risk to your hem. Scouting your first look location ahead of time gives you a chance to figure out how best to minimize walking (and therefore dragging). Consider also how you'll be arriving at your first look location. Is transportation required? If there is an option to hitch a ride, whether in a golf cart or shuttle, consider it! It is worthwhile to bring along a towel to sit on...just in case.
Bring Along Some Friends
Is your location particularly dusty (like a piazza or older road), or with pavers/cobblestones? What about city pavement? Is it actual earth, as in the case of a vineyard or orchard?
All these surfaces could leave a little souvenir on your hem.
Carrying your dress as much of the way as possible keeps contact with the ground to a minimum. You can carry your skirt from the front, while your bridal party (if you have one), friend(s), or planner can keep your train from dragging. The less the hem touches the ground, the less potential for dust, dirt, grass stains, and snags.
Once you're closer to your partner, you can take a second to rearrange your skirt, fluff the train, and take a deep breath before the first look moment!
For transitions among locations or even just longer walks throughout your portrait session, your friends can offer extra sets of helping hands to minimize dragging.
Consider Alternate Footwear
Taller heels (better yet, platforms) can elevate your whole hem, putting distance between your beautiful dress and the ground. You can always switch into your wedding heels when you arrive for your first look! This helps protect your wedding shoes, too.
If the terrain has you worried about snags in your train, consider bustling while you're on the move. Release the bustle for your portraits once you get into the right spot.
Take a Deep Breath
While a dusty hem is may be daunting up close, the reality is it won't be noticeable as you walk down the aisle. You'll be surprised how forgiving the camera lens is!
If anything, creases will draw more attention than slight discoloration. So, the key is to make sure that your dress is nicely steamed before go-time, and you'll be all set. A touch up before you walk down the aisle goes a long way!
Cover image by Voyteck Photography