Monday, February 2, 2009

To see, or not to see (each other before the ceremony): that is the question

Over the past few years, the traditional notion of the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day as the bride makes her journey down the aisle has been falling by the wayside. Many couples are now opting to have a “first look” before any of the wedding festivities get underway. Often, this involves staging the bride and groom’s first meeting in some way. For instance, the groom’s back is turned while the bride makes her way down a staircase or garden path to meet him, at which point the groom turns around and the couple comes face to face for the first time to see each other in their wedding attire.

While we’ve only had a handful of couples partake in this new trend, the decision of whether or not to see each other before the ceremony has become one of the many logistical wedding details to finalize, and there are benefits to both options.

To See
One of the best reasons to see each other before the ceremony is to preserve time. This is especially true if you have a short window of time between your ceremony and reception during which to take formal photos. After getting the necessary bridal party and family group shots, you certainly don’t want to have to rush through the bride and groom portraits in order to make it to your reception on time, so carving out a block of time before the ceremony to accomplish this is a great way to ensure that the remainder of your day runs on schedule. The first look is also a good option for couples who wish to attend their entire cocktail hour, since that period of time is typically designated for keeping guests occupied while the couple is elsewhere taking photos.

Another reason couples may choose to meet before the ceremony is so that they can enjoy some private time together (in the company of their photographer, of course). Brides and grooms are pulled in so many different directions by well-meaning guests once the wedding gets underway and, after reflecting back on their day, often feel as though they hardly spent a moment together. Taking a couple of hours to be alone with one another creates a wonderful bonding experience for the soon-to-be-married couple. Many couples who opt to have a first look report feeling much more relaxed once the ceremony begins, as seeing each other beforehand gives them a sense of reassurance.

Not to See
For every couple who chooses to see each other before the ceremony, it seems there are at least five who prefer to go the traditional route and have their first look as the bride appears from behind a colorful trail of bridesmaids and makes her way down the aisle. Whether this decision is based on the old wives’ tale that it’s bad luck to do otherwise, brides and grooms who see each other for the first time at their ceremony often report feeling a greater sense of excitement and anticipation when the ceremony begins. Another reason couples may choose to wait until after they have exchanged vows to take formal photos together is so that their wedding images truly depict them as a married couple, complete with wedding rings in place.

It’s a personal choice for every couple and there is certainly no right or wrong answer. If you're a bride- or groom-to-be (or a recently married couple), we’d love it if you’d weigh in with your opinions on why you decided to/decided not to see each other before the ceremony. Leave us a comment and we’ll donate a dollar to The Humane Society for every comment posted as part of our Comment for a Cause initiative.

{Images courtesy of Raw Photo Design}


raw photo design said...

Hey guys - great post! I'm a bit biased toward the "to see" method but in my experience I've never had a couple regret seeing each other before their ceremony and I've had a lot of couples regret NOT seeing each other before their ceremony. food for thought....

Jessica said...

Thanks for the insight, Eric!

Amber said...

I can tell that couples who REALLY value their pics will sacrifice old school tradition. Also - some people have the idea that they will be missing out on the emotion of the groom seeing his bride for the first time, but from what I have seen --- the emotion is magnified by this intimate experience without the nerves of all eyes on you. Most importantly, you get to be at your cocktail hour -

RusFeline said...

I would definitely vote for "Not to see"... There is just so much excitement - as my Granma used to say: "Waiting for the Holiday is better than the Holiday itself".

I realize that couples that chose to see each other before the actual nupitals will feel more relaxed... But... what about the spirit of the very nature of this one of the greatest life events?

Me and my late husband stayed at our parents respectively for the "night before". Arrived in different limos to different entrances of the church... It was incredible - to see each other at the altar in all that glam and glitter that the traditional wedding brings...


Jessica said...

Amber and Rus, thanks for sharing your opinions!