Wedding photographer, Dunkin' enthusiast, and lover of all things romance and weddings.



For Brides

Hello, beautiful Bride to be! You’ve got your vendors figured out, major details have been planned and you’re getting closer to your wedding day! You’ve been dreaming about this day since you were a little girl and when you got your Pinterest, I’m sure there was a secret board for your future wedding (I know I did!)

You’ve dreamt about the moment you walk down the aisle to see your groom, what his reaction will be, how you will feel, all the excitement and emotions that come with it! But now, more and more couples are opting to go for a First Look before the ceremony! And now it’s all the internal debates on should you do one or no?

After photographing many weddings with a First Look and without, I’m 100% for a First Look. I can tell you that at first, I was uncertain. I was sure that it wasn’t that special and to save that moment for the aisle. But after photographing my first First Look at a wedding I second shot at, I knew right away that this was truly so special.

Richmond VA Wedding Photographer | MJ Mendoza Photography


It’s a special moment to yourselves. You spend the morning with your girls, your family and the people closest to you… minus your husband because he’s getting ready with his guys! You get to the ceremony at some point during the day and you have 100+ guests all looking at you and looking at him, waiting for a reaction. It’s so nerve wracking, especially for the grooms to have the “right“ reaction! So you walk down the aisle and stand next to you super soon to be husband and he doesn’t have the time to tell you how beautiful and stunning you look in your dress, how excited he is to marry you. He has to wait until after the ceremony but by then, everyone is a rush to get family and bridal portraits done and head to reception since things are running on a timeline and we can’t be late! Reception comes and there’s mingling, dancing, all the fun things you’ve always wanted to do at your wedding. Finally, the party comes to an end and your friends and family send you off on your way! You both have a chance to breathe and be together alone. It’s a long but fun filled day!

With a First Look, you just finished getting ready and your hair and makeup are fresh, your dress is perfect, and you are giddy. Your groom is looking as handsome as ever and equally as giddy but so incredibly nervous! You go to your First Look and walk up to him and he turns around to see you for the very first time in your dress. And all the emotion comes. He may cry, he might not but you know he’s going to be in awe of how gorgeous you look and that soon, you’ll be his wife! He’ll be able to show his true emotions because he doesn’t have over 100 guests staring at him, he has his bride looking at him.

From my grooms’ experiences, sharing a First Look with his bride made the day more enjoyable for him because he’s relaxed! He’s less nervous because he’s already seen you and no one can calm him down the way you can.

You both have this quiet moment to yourselves so you can hug, share a kiss, and tell each other how amazing they look, just how excited you are to marry them! It’s just you and him in one of the only moments of your wedding day that you’re both together and have a chance to express yourselves freely.

But at the same time, you wonder if you’ll have the same reaction as you walk down the aisle.

And sometimes, you absolutely will have the same reaction you’ve wanted! Almost all my grooms that had a First Look, have cried seeing their bride during the First Look and cried when seeing her walk down the aisle too. It’s still such a special moment but perhaps even more so because he remembers spending that brief time with you earlier and getting to say all the things you both wanted to say to each other!

All my couples that have had a First Look, loved having that special moment with each other on their wedding day! And that’s over 80% of all my #mjmpcouples!

Richmond VA Wedding Photographer | MJ Mendoza Photography

Logistics wise, a First Look is so so beneficial and great for your wedding day!

The reason why is: you get MORE pictures!

With a First Look, you can get 30% MORE photos of your wedding day! After your getting ready portraits, we take you to your First Look and after you both share that moment together, we go right into your couples portraits! This is also great because your dress is still in pristine condition, your hair and makeup are freshly done and incredible and of course, your groom looks like he just walked out of the cover of a magazine, he’s looking so handsome.

Then we roll right into bridal party portraits and both parties can relax and hang out together, having fun before the ceremony begins because now we have time to make portraits fun! You have the chance to touch up your makeup, the guys can have a drink and relax before the wedding begins. So after your ceremony, all that’s left to do is your family portraits and just a few “just married“ portraits then you both can go enjoy cocktail hour! You chose all the details in your cocktail hour and chose the appetizers and drinks together, you should be able to enjoy them with your guests! I’ll capture photos of your cocktail hour, you and your husband mingling with your guests and enjoying it before reception begins!

Because we knocked out your couples portraits and bridal party portraits before the ceremony, we’ve extended your day and best part: we didn’t have to rush rush rush through portraits because of a tight timeline! We made it FUN for everyone because the First Look gave us the TIME for it! It’s a win win for everyone and the portraits of your first look and couples portraits will be the ones to hang on the walls of your home together, those will be the ones to be in your wedding album, the ones you will treasure forever.

Richmond VA Wedding Photographer | MJ Mendoza Photographer

First Looks are so worth it, but of course, this is a decision to be made by only you and your fiance. Don’t let the fear of traditions hold what you want back- especially since a First Look is quite popular now! 😉 First Look or not, it’s your wedding day and it will be a beautiful, love filled day, no matter what!

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First Look: Is it worth it?