12.07.09 Weddings

The First Look : Groom's Perspective

© Jasmine Star. This post cannot be republished without permission. Stealing makes me sad.
hen I got this idea, I had no idea I'd get such a heartfelt response. Seriously. People often ask me why I encourage my clients to see each other before the ceremony and how so many of my clients agree to do it. To be honest, when I meet with clients I simply suggest this idea, share my personal experience, then let the matter rest. I do not push the subject and the clients are free to make any decision they like.

I was contacted by and they asked to feature one of my pictures along with a story they were writing about grooms seeing the wedding dress before the ceremony...what an honor! You can read the entire article here.

I've been thinking about how I could sit here and talk about the benefits of a First Look, but that may sound selfish. Clearly photographers prefer a First Look, but how do the clients feel? Furthermore, what's the groom's reaction to such a special moment? Well, I took the liberty to ask a few of my 2009 grooms and here are their responses. And, yes, after reading these comments you'll realize I have absolutely spectacular clients. Seriously.

Steven + Alicia ('Ala') : Wedding : Villa Del Sol D'Oro Sierra Madre
I have to admit, I had mixed emotions when I was asked to write a piece in response to my experiences from our wedding. So much emphasis is placed on the bride and her experiences, that the ongoing joke is that the groom just rolls out of bed and finds himself at the altar. With that being said, I am happy that someone has taken the time to consider the grooms perspective. From the beginning, I wanted to be involved in our wedding, since I would forever cherish the planning and memories made along the way. This helps understand why the first look was so exciting for me personally.
For 20 months, my soon to be wife and I planned all of the details of this one special day. We made the firm stance from day one that we did not want the average cookie cutter wedding. We wanted every aspect to have some form of detail which could only be described as "Us". During our engagement, we only got the opportunity to see things on paper, in the form of diagrams, sketches and pictures. Not having the supreme foresight of how all of this would come together gave rise to such a high level of excitement and anticipation that lasted up to the moment Jasmine Star stood in front of me and said, "Okay, now turn around and see Ala!".
Having the opportunity to see Ala during our "First Look" was one of the most special moments from our wedding. I personally like to think of it as two little kids sneaking downstairs on christmas eve to see how big the gifts are underneath the tree and then sneaking back upstairs before you get caught by your parents. And, this analogy is definitely our style. I was pleased at the opportunity to get to spend intimate time with my soon to be wife. If anything this was our first true ceremony. It was a private time for us to share our excitement with each other, there was no pressure from family or guests, there was no particular place to stand, and probably the greatest part of all was that all of the reactions were genuine.
I am fully aware of the "Tradition" of not seeing bride prior to the wedding, but in our circumstance, we wanted to make our own tradition. When I got to see Ala for the first time, she looked absolutely amazing! My continued reaction during the first look was not just smiling, but genuine joy and laughter. Because that's what we do, we laugh at everything. Having her walk down the aisle, which was just as special, was just the cue to let me know that our wedding was now happening. In my opinion, having a first look is a fantastic option to have. I do not feel in any way that seeing her before the wedding took away from the rest of the day. If anything, I think the opposite. I believe that the first look set the tone for the rest of the day. Having this opportunity gave us time to calm some of the butterflies within ourselves, and it also allowed us to look each other in the eyes with no one else around. I would not trade this experience for anything.

Donald + Damaris : Wedding : Vibiana Los Angeles
The first look was great, but there was so much happening that day, and in that moment, it was hard to really know what I was feeling. We had our families watching, and I knew everyone was expecting something special between us. It was special, but it was the two of us on display for all of them.
Her walk down the aisle, arm in arm with her dad and wearing that stunning dress, was spectacular. But it was another moment when it was nearly impossible for me to sort out my own emotions. I knew there was a camera on me. I could see people glance back toward me. Over the years I had heard everyone talk about "What's going through the groom's mind?"
There were other moments that I felt were truly ours, moments I felt like only we shared that I'll never forget. Damaris' vows were the greatest words she's ever spoken to me. In the 10 mins we had to ourselves after the ceremony, she relaxed across a couch in the groom's prep room and I was blown away to see and realize I'd just married the most beautiful, special woman God has ever created. And on our wedding night, when I was the one to unzip her wedding dress and kiss her soft shoulders, I was quite sure I was drowning in more love than I could handle.
I do believe that our first look was the right choice for us, for one main reason: Scheduling the first look before the ceremony helped create a wedding day that was far less stressful, and therefore filled with more meaningful moments between the two of us and our families. There is no way that seeing Damaris walk down the aisle could ever be anything but spectacular. But without the first look our day would have been far more hectic and stressful for us and everyone else involved.

D.J. + Emily : Wedding : Montage Laguna Beach
So I hear you want some insight into what my thoughts were on the Big day? Well, thanks to the destination wedding I was lucky enough to be poolside for majority of the afternoon. I was accompanied by my best friend and his family which kept me busy for awhile. I don't recall being nervous or anxious. I was in a great mood all day and if there was any bit of angst it was the eagerness to see my beautiful bride walk down the aisle. I kept trying to seize the moment as I knew this was a day wed look back upon for decades to come. The days leading up to the wedding I specifically recall having some thoughts concerning what condition I'll be like the day of. I was curious to whether I'd be nervous, excited, eager or just a blending of the 3. I can safely say I had little nerves, great eagerness and a plenty of excitement. I must say with the help of you and J.D. the day went even smoother. I was a little apprehensive about a lengthy photo session prior to the ceremony but you guys did an unbelievable job of making it fun which made time go by quickly. Once again, thank you so much.

Robert + Marisa : Wedding : Hotel Bel Air
Before I was engaged, I had never even entertained the idea of how I would think or feel about seeing my future bride to be before the ceremony of my wedding. After meeting with you, although open minded, I was still very apprehensive about seeing Marisa before the ceremony; only because even though I had never thought about the logistics behind the actual wedding/photography side of things, I knew, no matter what, it had to be special. After careful consideration, we decided to see each other before the wedding. Seeing Marisa before the wedding was the best decision we could have made. I hoped that seeing her prior wouldn't take away that special feeling of watching her walk down the aisle. It sure didn't.. In fact, if I hadn't seen her beforehand, there is no way I would have been able to make it through the ceremony without completely losing it. You and JD made the "first look" so special, out of everything I took away from that day, that to me, was the most memorable. Being able to share that moment with my fiancee, without 130 people watching was incredible.
I truly believe that if we hadn't done our first look before the ceremony, we wouldn't have been able to get the photos we did. Also, it didn't change the feeling of watching my beautiful bride walk down the isle. Oh, it also alleviated me from being a crying mess. :)

Jelani + Cynthia : Wedding : Ebell Club
I must admit that, being the traditionalist that I am, I was VERY skeptical about seeing Cynthia prior to the ceremony. Why would I want to ruin such a moment for the sake of a picture? When Jasmine initially suggested the idea, I really had to think about it. And after long consideration, and perhaps a little tugging and pulling from my now wife, I was finally swayed to do what we once thought was the unthinkable but now see as one of the best decisions to have our first-look prior to the ceremony. In coming to this decision, I quickly realized that there are certain aspects that are incredibly easy to overlook, more so after having gone through the experience.
The first-look prior to the ceremony and the first-look during the ceremony are completely independent experiences. My reaction to seeing Cynthia prior to the ceremony was such a private and personal moment that nobody can share with us, except us. Even with Jasmine in the room (and nobody else), at that moment, everything faded away and nothing else in the world existed or mattered except the person that was standing before me. Instead of having to wait until after the ceremony to tell her how beautiful she looked, I could tell her as the thoughts and words formed in my mind to express what I was thinking.
After sharing that special and private moment of the first-look, then spending a good hour together taking pictures, joking around with your wedding party, waving off family members who want to say hello instead of just walking into the venue, or perhaps chasing down one of the ring bearers because he can't sit still, you'd think that that moment of the first-look during the ceremony would have faded away and that you'd be numb to it during the ceremony. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where the first-look prior to the ceremony was a private affair with no outside intrusions, now you have external elements that you and your future wife have specifically planned for to make that moment special.
The final realization I needed to be reminded of is that we had an amazing photographer who also happens to be a dear friend of ours. In selecting your wedding photographer, chances are you've laboriously done the research. You've gone online, read the blogs, looked at engagement and wedding photos, and perhaps even met up with a handful of photographers at a Starbucks to make sure personalities matched. This is a long and arduous process. Once you've finally selected that person, you have to give yourself the credit due and have faith in your decision. There has to be a high level of comfort and trust when it comes to letting his/her creative juices flow. So when he/she suggests doing a first-look prior to the ceremony, take comfort in knowing that its been done before, that it hasn't ruined any previous weddings, that it will NOT ruin yours, and more importantly, that it may be one of the best wedding decisions you make.

Steven + Stephanie : Wedding : DC Ranch
I feel so honored and would love to answer your question about how I felt about seeing Stephanie before the ceremony. In all honesty, I did initially want to wait until the ceremony to see her because I wanted my emotions and feelings to be completely expressed in that moment with everyone to see. I truly wanted the guests to get an insight into how I truly felt and how much I loved Stephanie. I don't mean to say that my feelings wouldn't of been shown if I had seen her before, but I did feel that it may take away from some of that emotion. And in the end, I was so glad that we saw each other before for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was completely wrong in how I would feel at the ceremony after seeing her. I was just as or even more emotionally tied into her and the entire ceremony than I ever would have been. Secondly, it was really special to share a private first look with her before the ceremony. I really enjoyed that I had the time to visit with her right then and there for that first look (I wouldn't be able to do this standing at the altar). Thirdly, I felt that I had the chance to really take in the entire ceremony and enjoy that special time with my wife. Fourthly, the first look gave us the opportunity to have time for so many more pictures without feeling rushed. We had time to take pictures both before and after the ceremony by choosing to do a first look. And pictures were obviously the most important thing to us.

Steven, Donald, D.J. Robert, Jelani, and Stephen....THANK YOU for sharing your personal experience with my blog readers and future brides. I know your words and perspectives will change the way future couples approach their wedding and I appreciate your time greatly. Love you guys! xoxo...j*
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Elena - I can't believe I found this, this is awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing!  05.16.14 - 6:34pm
Karla - That first photo of Robert just made me cry. I love how you were able to capture the emotion of the moment.  10.20.11 - 11:22pm
Joy - I would LOVE to do this for my wedding, but my fiancĂ© doesn't want to. I'll get him to read this article and see if it changes his mind at all. I definitely see this as a plus and will certainly make the nerves more calm. I'll keep this article on "speed dial" for my future clients as well!  08.27.10 - 11:10am
Allison Walton - I reference this post, and it's original "Why a First Look?" with all of my potential clients. A lot of them don't even realize that doing a First Look is an option! With the 6 couples I have shown this to, 5 of them have chosen to have a First Look--and the last one is caving! Thanks, J*.  04.18.10 - 5:30am
Koszalin - only to learn from you!  03.11.10 - 7:51am
Hanh Nguyen - I love this post. My fiance didn't get the whole concept about "the first look" and these priceless pictures definitely help him see why I want to do it. Thanks and I absolutely love your work. It inspires me!  01.29.10 - 11:14pm
Stella - What a wonderful idea and lovely post!!!  01.26.10 - 9:48pm
dmitri yakimov - Very nice pics and sincere stories, thank you!  01.24.10 - 9:10am
bridget - I can't agree with you more! I wish more and more that my brides and grooms would consider to do the same. The results are spectacular when they agree. :)  01.20.10 - 12:18am
Angie Kay - What a priceless picture they added of yours to the article! I think I would like for the surprise before the ceremony. I think it is something personal to share for memories to last. And great photo ops. I love the pictures. thanks for sharing.   01.13.10 - 10:57am
Tina Lane - I love this post! I want a first look now for my wedding... :)  01.13.10 - 10:55am
Aaron V - That's so cool seeing your pics on magazines..congrats. I never believe to hide the dress was an excited thing but we are all different...I think I was at wedding at Ebell..nice.  01.11.10 - 1:52pm
Heather Swanner - You know I never thought to *ask* the couple if they would be open to seeing each other before the ceremony. What a great idea! (and these shots are amazing)  01.04.10 - 11:13am
Craig Kasper Photography - your work is so easy to fall in love with jasmine ! i have become addicted to checking your blog on a daily basis. thank you for sharing so much of who you are and what you do. Craig Kasper Photography  12.16.09 - 5:53pm
Rosaura Sandoval - Thank you so much for this post. Brilliant and insightful and touching. Gracias!  12.10.09 - 11:44am
brooke bowland - so appreciate you sharing this! maybe i should just save it for future clients. hehe.   12.10.09 - 11:08am
Life with Kaishon - Wow. This post is so great. It made me cry a few times. What beautiful descriptions of the first look : )  12.10.09 - 7:10am
Heather - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This is so brilliant and I am going to send it out for my clients to read. The grooms explain it and say it better than I ever could, what an AWESOME IDEA!  12.09.09 - 11:48am
Josie - DOES HUSBAND #1 HAVE A BROTHER?? LOL  12.09.09 - 2:54am
gladys jem - aw. i love this. i can't wait to see Chris' face when we do our first look. but i also can't wait to see the photos you and JD take from them :)  12.08.09 - 6:19pm
Christina Gressianu - I love this post! I love reading the grooms' perspectives since that rarely happens. What wonderful clients! And wonderful men!  12.08.09 - 1:21pm
ashley rodgers - i. cried. ... even before reading what was written. the last image... where you can see steven fingers pushing into stephanie's skin as he holds her tight... love. (sigh)  12.08.09 - 8:39am
Sarah Smith - YEah :) Nice to know that I am in such good company with you on the Glamour Blog. I have some photos featured there too :) Congrats!  12.08.09 - 7:43am
Jen - I agree, the first look is a great idea. But, many say i guess it's fighting tradition. I say sneak it.  12.08.09 - 7:36am
rachel darley - oh if only you had posted this about a year and a half ago! I tried to get my husband to do a first look but I had everyone against me =( oh well! Great post though! Thanks to the guys for sharing! I was brought to tears, their letters were expressed so beautifully.   12.08.09 - 4:04am
Sam@Shuttersnap - Great idea for a blog post :) I really love the idea of First Looks. It's great to hear from the grooms how special and meaningful the experience was for them.   12.08.09 - 3:21am
Cathy Crawley - Wow, what an honour indeed! And what amazing grooms you have photographed, I absolutely loved Steven's answer, so romantic and beautiful :)  12.08.09 - 2:14am
Isadora - Hello Jasmine, My name is Isadora, I'm a beginner photographer in Brazil, made a blog now to start releasing my work, that does not even come to your feet (rs) do not photograph weddings yet .. but I'm starting with some little parties and such and I hope one day to take pictures as wonderful as you, who can bring into the picture all the emotion of the moment. good, not as I had not come to say that I love your work. You are an inspiration to me! (And sorry for the English that is not the best .. rs) A big kiss, Isadora  12.07.09 - 11:36pm
Corinna Hoffman - Love this post!! Yay, now I have a new link to provide to my clients when I try to educate them about doing the first-look :) Here's another helpful link from a wedding planner: ..It's under the "seeing each other before the wedding" series :) Blessings, Jasmine!  12.07.09 - 7:39pm
amanda thiessen - love this post! the groom is just as important as the bride!  12.07.09 - 6:11pm
Lauren Bauer - This is the ONE thing I totally regretted not doing at our wedding... love hearing the grooms perspective. Its so sweet!  12.07.09 - 5:41pm
bethany - what a lovely post! it's definitely a change to hear from the perspective of the grooms...  12.07.09 - 4:37pm
Erin Elizabeth - Wow, I really enjoyed this post. It is true that so often we assume that grooms don't want to be a part of the wedding planning process, always saying "whatever you want honey!" but that is obviously not true! It's great to read a little behind the scenes feelings from some of your grooms! Thanks!  12.07.09 - 4:34pm
Sheila Hallmark - What a sweet sweet post! Not the first post of yours that made me cry. You are just too awesome!  12.07.09 - 4:06pm
Sheila - Tears, tears, tears, tears, tears! Loved reading this. :)  12.07.09 - 3:25pm
MJ - Great post. I really loved reading the groom's thoughts and persceptive of that special first glance. Adore Jelani's expression!! Made me cry.  12.07.09 - 3:24pm
Ala @ The Modern Type - i just fell MORE in love with my husband! he just earned himself some homemade dinner - a rarity in the cortez household. ;) thanks for including him jasmine! we love you! xo  12.07.09 - 3:07pm
Christine Pobke - LOVE this post... totally agree that it's important for the first look! I wish I had done that at my own wedding as well.... :) I'm so easily swayed by you! :)   12.07.09 - 2:40pm
s h e r r y - Amazing post, from the grooms' angle...  12.07.09 - 1:01pm
Marissa Rodriguez - Awesome, awesome post! You're making me totally jealous that my husband and I didn't do a first look when we got married 3 years ago! Too bad I wasn't a photographer back then, otherwise we would have for sure done that! SUCH a great post thank you! By the way, so great to finally meet you at the Shootsac Grand Opening! :)  12.07.09 - 12:45pm
Leyla - Great post! It's amazing to read the grooms perspective.. I am sure this will help a lot of future couples in making the right decision about their "First Look"  12.07.09 - 12:05pm
Wendy - Congratulations Jasmine! But also... what a fabulous post! I love the look on the grooms' faces as they have their "First Look." We only hope that our husband can continue to look at us like that forever. How sweet!  12.07.09 - 11:49am
Brian Khang - Being engaged myself and planning our wedding now, I'm happy there's a post for the grooms perspective. These testimonials not only solidify how it works out logistically for photography, but the emotions of seeing your bride for the first time carries on still to the ceremony. This is a great post and it's something I'm always telling my clients as well.   12.07.09 - 11:09am
My Social Relevance - Yeah we need to focus on the guys a little more haha.  12.07.09 - 11:04am
Jonathan - I really appreciate this post. My wife and I chose to have a First Look, and we didn't regret it for a second. In a day that seems to go by so quickly, it is nice to have that one moment where time seems to stand still.  12.07.09 - 10:43am
Courtney Dellafiora - Jasmine!! Awesome post!!! You're a genius! Ahhh you rock. I heart you! Tell JD I said HEY!!! xoxo  12.07.09 - 10:40am
magalie - Great post!!! The photos are so meaningful already, but reading the groom's perspective is wonderful.   12.07.09 - 10:39am
michelle cunningham - awwww!!!! i love that quiet moment before the storm. it's so intense and so peaceful at the same time.   12.07.09 - 10:36am
Deyla Huss Photography - So fun! I love this post Jasmine! It really lets people in on the other side of things. Congrats on the article on!   12.07.09 - 10:36am
Lydia - Guys, thanks so much for sharing! This was an awesome idea, Jasmine! I'll be passing this post on to my brides!  12.07.09 - 10:13am
nancy ray - *swoon* one of my favorite posts... ever  12.07.09 - 10:10am
cassandra m - WOW...each groom's reply was an emotional read. You do have the most awesome clients, reading these heartfelt words just prove it. It was very nice to hear what the groom's perspectives were. :)  12.07.09 - 9:54am
Inland Empire Wedding Photographer - this is an awesome post, did it make you all teary eyed also?  12.07.09 - 9:37am
Jennifer O. - I totally love the ideal! It's such an awesome moment for a couple to share together.  12.07.09 - 9:33am
Candace Prokopets - J*, thanks so much for sharing this post. It will be a wonderful resource to share with our grooms to allow them to hear the voice of other men and their experiences.   12.07.09 - 9:30am
Stephanie Stewart - LOVE how you asked for the grooms' perspectives! Their words are so sweet, I'm sure their wives will love reading this, as if they didn't already know how they felt, but so sweet that they shared it with so many people here on your blog. Awesome!!!  12.07.09 - 9:22am
Khristen - it seems like southern brides want to stick to more traditional lines and rarely do first looks. Sometimes I feel like they don't hear the definition of a first look because they're already against it. I love to see your first look pictures though. they are amazing!  12.07.09 - 8:55am
tish - Congratulations, Jasmine, on having your photo chosen by Glamour! I was so happy to see they chose Jelani's photo because that is one the the very best (and emotional) wedding photos I have ever seen!  12.07.09 - 8:50am
imthiaz houseman - wow, i love all of the stories, and that's so awesome you are featured on  12.07.09 - 8:45am
ohana photographers - YAY!!! first looks are always so emotional and special for the couple :) i also suggest not push . great post jas!  12.07.09 - 8:41am
Connie Sithi - I did a first look for my wedding, too, and I LOVED it! It really calmed me down because we had that moment to realize it's just us. We had so many things go wrong with the planning, but this first look set a mood for the rest of the day that everything would be okay. congrats on Glamour! That is SO SICK!   12.07.09 - 8:18am
Jeni - I love this post!! I let my husband come dress shopping with me. I had just moved to D.C. and my wedding was in Memphis, so I didn't really have any girlfriends or family to shop with me. My husband was totally up for the task. We're coming up on 8 years, so no bad luck there. But I decided to keep the "first look" for when I walked down the aisle. Though, now, I wished I hadn't done that. Watching my husband's reaction is a picture I will never forget but I wish I could've been able to talk to him in that moment rather than waiting. And I know he would've been able to help calm me down like only he can...I was a nervous wreck.   12.07.09 - 8:17am
Tiffany - wow congrats on having your photo on the Glamour site! So exciting!! I love the photo you chose...the groom looks so genuinely happy to see his bride for the first time. If I could hop in my time machine...I would totally have done the first look!   12.07.09 - 8:16am
Lacey Reimann - WOW! Awesome! Thanks Jasmine & thanks to all these great guys for sharing their beautiful stories! It looks like a lot of newlywed men just earned some major brownie points!   12.07.09 - 8:15am
Brooke - You definately have the greatest clients...I am a blubbering idiot right now reading through the tender and heartfelt words of these guys.  12.07.09 - 8:02am
Kelli Taylor - In retrospect I wish I would've done a first look at my wedding. It's a small way to take a moment out for just the two of you!  12.07.09 - 7:54am
Shannon Miller - I've been refreshing all morning to see today's post. Love it, as always!  12.07.09 - 7:49am
Michelle sidles - I love hearing the grooms perspective (and I'm not even a wedding photographer). ;) haha!! I just love how men can be so traditional. How seeing the bride before the ceremony seems to be something they might not ever have considered. Men are so awesome! :)   12.07.09 - 7:37am
Suzanne & Mike Taylor - Thank you Jasmine for sharing these personal letters from your grooms. I can't tell you how often I have felt so rushed during my photo shoots to get pictures of the happy couple and all their family members between the ceremony and the reception. I then always end up disappointed that I didn't get all the planned shots I wanted (the couple is happy but not me). With your permission, I would love to share these letters with my future couples to convince them that the "First Look" shoot is truly invaluable. Thanks again, Suzanne Taylor  12.07.09 - 7:35am
Diandra - Ahhhh! This makes me so excited to do my own first look one day ;) Thanks for the grooms perspective... it is often left out!  12.07.09 - 7:29am