Bridal Education

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Nataly Hernandez Photography


What is a First Look?

…Before I tell you why I think having a first look is a great decision, let’s chat about *What is a First Look?* to begin with! Not everyone understands what a first look is so we are tackling that questions first!

What is a first look?

Do any of these apply to you?

  • Do you need to understand what a first look is before you decide if you would like to have a first look on your wedding day?
  • Are your parents giving you a hard time about having a first look?
  • On the fence about having a first look?

… then this is the right place for you!

90% of my couples do a First Look! Believe it or not, most couples who choose NOT to have a first look make that decision for a few reasons. They think it won’t be special when the bride walks down the aisle, their parents don’t understand it, or they themselves don’t understand it. This is why I chose to write this blog post all about what exactly is a first look to begin with!

A first look in downtown San Diego

What is a First Look?

A first look is a private and intimate moment when the bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony. If I’m your wedding photographer, this moment is a quite and private area away from everyone. A moment just for the bride and groom to have to themselves to see each other, talk to each other, and share a quite moment on their wedding day. It’s a newer wedding tradition, but it’s a beautiful and intimate moment.

Why a first look?

Personally, David and I didn’t have a first look and I wish we would have!

I  have confessed my deep love for First Looks numerous times on my blog and I tend to point them out in every blog post. There is a reason for this. They’re AWESOME! However, not everyone is aware of how awesome they are, because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is, and they immediately write it off.  I’m allowed to talk about those brides because I was one of them! I wanted a REACTION! I wanted David to be so surprised and overcome with joy when I walked down the aisle that he bawled at the first sight of me! Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction?

While we didn’t do a first look I can honestly say that I’ve changed my mind about them since our wedding day. I’ve been part of weddings with couples who decided to share an intimate “First Look” moment on their wedding day, AND the groom still “LOSE IT when the bride comes down the aisle

After experiencing and shooting over 100 weddings…. I’ve come to this conclusion.  Some brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is a REACTION.  Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. What I have found (this is starting to sound like a research paper!) is actually the very opposite. Grooms are much more emotional at first looks! Sounds ironic? Let me explain. 

Everyone knows that the wedding day are a bit stressful for the bride and groom.  The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, they need to be on time, the groom has no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to go on and little by little… the tension grows.

It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in and the calm, collected groom who was playing golf just a few short hours ago is now starting to feel a little anxious. So what happens next?  The groom waits in a little room somewhere for his cue from the coordinator.  It seems like it’s taking FOREVER.  Finally, the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the groom to get ready.  With clammy hands, the groom enters the ceremony and what does he find? ….he finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction.

This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful… But when you walk down the aisle… Your groom will often be a nervous wreck and he won’t feel comfortable showing his true emotions.

For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time. 

He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride! Not only would he get to see her, but he could also embrace her, cry with her, kiss her, and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times, and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway.

Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look.  He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look.  And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance. It sounds crazy when you put it that way, right?!

My next educational bridal post will be all about the actual benefits of having a first look!

A few of my favorite weddings with a first look

A first look on your wedding day
a first look on the wedding day
a first look from a los angeles wedding photographer


  1. […] before I tell you why you should have a First Look on your Wedding Day, check out my last blog post. I go into detail about what a First look is and why I personally love them. I know it’s a […]

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