Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stop (First) Looking At Me, Swan!

For some reason every time I hear the term "First Look" I always hear Adam Sandler saying "Stop looking at me, Swan!" in Billy Madison.


After much internal debate (and I say internal, because Mr. Cola didn't care),
I/we decided that we would do the "first look," where we'd see each other all dressed up before the wedding ceremony, but stage it so it's still special. I had always really wanted to wait until I walked down the aisle for Mr. Cola to see me for the first time, but the benefits of doing it before the ceremony outweighed tradition. And also, Mr. Cola's teasing with, "Oh no, I looked at you!" and "Gee, I don't know if I want to look at you there...." kinda ruined the specialness and tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony for me. It's apparently all silliness to him.


So after making the decision to do bride and groom pictures before the ceremony, we had to find a suitable location. I didn't want to just do it in the hotel, I wanted someplace with a nice view/backdrop, and didn't want to do it at our ceremony location, so we'd have pictures at more than one location (especially important because we're not doing engagement pictures).
Unfortunately my first choice, the Pulgas Water Temple was already reserved on our day. It is right on the way to the ceremony, reservable for 2 hours at a time for $150, and is just beautiful:


So after a lot more searching, we narrowed it down to
either San Mateo Central Park (near the hotel where we'll be getting ready) or Sharon Park (on the way to the ceremony location). We then set out to visit both locations (all pictures taken by me).

This is at the Tea Garden at San Mateo Central Park:

However, there were way too many people at the Tea Garden for us to feel comfortable taking pictures with.

Next we looked at the rose garden and gazebo in San Mateo Central Park. There were less people here than at the Tea Garden, but still quite a few around.

And the office building in the background wasn't very pretty either.

After checking out these two locations at San Mateo Central Park, we went and looked at the reservable picnic spots at the park for our rehearsal dinner, which turned out to be a huge disappointment (more on that in the next post). So we drove down to Menlo Park to look at First Look option two, Sharon Park, a small park in a quiet residential neighborhood.

We only saw about 6 people the entire time we were at this park, which was a huge plus. Neither of us are too excited about posing for photos with a bunch of strangers gawking at us! The park features a pretty little lake with a paved path around it (great for me to walk on with my high heels).

This vine covered gazebo would be a perfect location for our "first look".

And after doing the "first look" pictures, we can walk around the lake, taking different bridal photos along the way.

And maybe get some more fun shots of wildlife (sorry, just had to share this pic of the awesome dragonfly in front of the fountain!)

So there you have it, our first look location! I can't wait to see the pretty pictures we'll have around the little lake, followed by pictures in front of the redwoods and bay view up at our venue. This will be a great way to maximize our time after the ceremony for family pictures, and then we can get on to the cocktail hour!

I'm still working out the details of how we'll actually execute the first look, but I'm thinking Mr. Cola and one of our photogs will take a cab to the park, and then I'll follow in the limo with our second photog about 10 minutes later, and let the photographers do the coordinating of exactly where they want us to be. We can then do the rest of the pictures around the lake, and all take the limo up to the ceremony location together.

Will you be doing a "first look" or do you prefer the more traditional option of waiting until you walk down the aisle?


  1. Location looks great. Glad you found something you are happy with. We are most likely going to do it the old fashioned way, see each other for the first time at the church and make sure our photog knows this so he can capture as much as possible.

  2. I think you'll be really happy with your decision. It'll take so much stress off of not having to take bride/groom pictures after the ceremony. We did a first look and I didn't think having seen my guy beforehand took away from that special moment when walking down the aisle!

  3. We're still on the fence about the first look, but I think the park you chose is beautiful. I think it's important to be at least relatively isolated - we did our DIY engagement shoot at a middle-of-nowhere sculpture garden right before it closed, so there was literally no one else there, and it was perfect!

  4. Oh we are definitely doing the First Look...and I have a great idea of how to make it special and still include our family and friends (immediate ones) so they don't miss out on it, either. Especially since the future MIL (Mother in law) was not excited when she heard we were seeing each other first. But it is so important to us to get ALL of the pictures out of the way before the ceremony. That way our bridal party, family and most importantly, US can all enjoy our guests during the cocktail hour.

    Your location looks amazing! What a great spot you found.

  5. We still haven't decided if we're going to do a first look or not, but all those locations look beautiful!