My Wedding: First Look

Monday, January 10, 2011

(All Photography by Raya Carlisle)

If you asked me a year ago about doing a "First Look" for my wedding, my response would have been "nooooo way." {Note: A "First Look" is when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, usually to take pictures}. I was stuck on the idea that the first time Jose would see me in my wedding dress would be when I walked down the isle to marry him.

I had this misconception that if Jose saw me for the "First Look," he wouldn't feel as emotional seeing me again when I walked down the isle. Like somehow seeing me the second time would "tone down" the emotion. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But what made me decide to do it?

I realized that the only way I could actually give my photographer 30 minutes of just photos with Jose and I, was if we did the first look. Our ceremony and reception were in the same place -- which means that once the ceremony was over, our cocktail hour could only be for about 25-30 minutes until people are ready to sit and eat. So imagine trying to do photos of the two of us, PLUS family photos, AND bridal party photos?

It's not impossible -- but it could lead to some unhappy guests. I valued my guests, their time, and their appetite, but I also valued my photos and vendors' time. I had to decide what was important to me and then it hit me...

This formality that is called the "first look" doesn't have to feel like a pressured photography session, but the opportunity for your photographer to capture such an insanely intimate moment.

I could still walk down the isle to see him for the first time -- it would simply be without an audience.

Jose waited at the end of the isle, facing the windows, his back to the entrance I would come in from. Raya brought me out once the ceremony room was cleared of people, and placed me on the opposite end of the isle -- facing Jose's back. Eeep!! She then told Jose to turn around and face me. I walked towards him and watched his tears form.

Seriously you guys, I could not WAIT for Jose to see my dress! I'd been so secretive about everything -- the dress, veil, make up, and my hair.

I can't tell you how great it was to have those moments of just looking at each other and thinking "can you believe this?!" To breathe, forget about the stress of planning, and letting the rest of the day unfold however God planned it to unfold.

Plus, it was time for pictures!!

We could take our time, exploring different corners of the gorgeous venue (Paraiso Maravilla) with our amazing photog Raya.

Even a couple of bridal portraits! She mixed film and digital :)

And there is the brooch bouquet that I took on as a special project. Thanks to some generous friends and family that donated brooches, I was able to make it and even create a tutorial for any other brides interested in making one.

Now it sits in my home as a decor piece -- a reminder of the beautiful community that supported and embraced Jose and I.

Love how Raya captured pieces of our personality..

Did I mention our venue was gorgeous?!

Funny how I thought that a "First Look" would take away from walking down the isle during the ceremony.

The truth is, you can't even prepare for the moment before you walk down the isle. I was really silly thinking anything would take away from that. I hadn't cried up to that point, even on the first look. That changed when my brother appeared at my secret entrance spot, ready to walk me down the stairs. Amazing Grace began to fill the room and rows of people that I love stood up.

I tried so hard not to cry, but the moment was more overwhelming than I ever imagined. I'll share more of that next :')

In case you missed it.. My Wedding: Getting Ready


  1. WOW! What an amazing post. You brought tears to my eyes. I don't know if it was from how beautiful you look or the fact that I am getting married in 8 months so I saw a glimpse of what could be. Thank you for sharing such amazing photos.

  2. Awwww :) To be honest, I was all teared up towards the end, typing all of this. I can't wait for the next post because THAT was an unforgettable experience. I'm so excited for you and so glad I can share this with you!!

    I've been thinking about you guys and your wedding coming up! Let me know if you need any help with anything via long distance :)

  3. Hey Ale! I loved your post! It def. made my eyes watery. Funny you should write about it, because I have been debating in my head. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! I hope hope all is well with you and Jose in Arizona! Te me cuidas y te mando un abrazo!

  4. The photos are absolutely beautiful! I love how happy you both look. I'm glad to get some opinions about having a first look because I originally felt really against it to, but now I'm not so sure because of the practicality of having that extra time to take photos. Where did you get married? The venue is gorgeous as well.

  5. Jessica -- I STRONGLY encourage it! Trust me, I was SOO against it before but it doesn't take away from the moment *at all*. I promise, promise, promise. I miss you girl! When's your big day by the way?!

    Michelle- thank you so much :) :) Same thing I said to Jessica. I really believed that the first look would take away the "surprise" and the entire emotional roller coaster (and suspense), but I ended up losing it walking down the isle and that moment became about the people AROUND me. They felt that with me and Jose was in tears again :) I got married in Houston, TX -- Paraiso Maravilla.

    Gracias Nati!! :)

  6. What a lovely couple! The groom looks so handsome in his suit and the bride's beauty was given so much emphasis by the beautiful gown! It's so fine and the bridal mantle is very remarkable. Lucky him, lucky her!

    Kelli Mueller



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