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Thursday, May 31, 2012

THE DEBATE: NOT SEEING THE BRIDE BEFORE SHE WALKS DOWN THE AISLE…

A lot of people don’t even know why they celebrate certain wedding traditions, they just do it because people have done these traditions for years. One of the biggest ones is keeping the Bride hidden before her big day… but why is that… let’s check it out…

This actually began because marriages were pre-arranged and Brides and Grooms did not see or know each other before the wedding day. Prearrangement included bargaining the Bride for things like cattle, chicken, grain, etc.

Because the couple never actually met before the wedding day, the not seeing each other kept the Groom from running away before he saw what the Bride actually looked like. Running from the Bride is said to have brought financial bad luck to the families bargaining their marriage. Other superstitions talk about bad luck seeing her in her dress, but that came years later to lighten the blow of the woman being more of an object.

Today most Brides think its bad luck for her Groom to see her in her wedding dress before she walks down the aisle. Actually, if you follow tradition, they say it is also bad luck for the Bride to look at herself in the mirror before the big reveal. That tradition died fast!!

The first look is now becoming more and more popular, and the big reveal walking down the aisle is sort of becoming what puffy sleeves were of the 80s. Most Brides have never walked down the aisle before, so they don’t know the response they may get might not be all they are hoping for… the big reveal of the dress is not as dramatic because you just don’t get a chance to talk to each other about the moment. Plus a lot of Brides and Grooms I have spoken with have the same butterfly feelings as they do if they do or do not see each other before they walk down the aisle… so why not do the first look anyway?



The first look, that happens before the wedding ceremony, is probably one of the most romantic moments I have seen. The Bride walks up behind the Groom taps him on the shoulder, or walks down a large staircase and he is waiting for her at the bottom, or he comes up in the elevator and she is there awaiting his arrival. When the couple sees each other for the first time, it’s just them and the photographer, the moment is very private and the couple can share emotions they normally won’t get to share when they reach each other at the top of the aisle because they can’t really talk. The Groom spins his Bride around and sees her in her dress, and he really gets to enjoy her. Most Grooms aren’t thinking about the dress the Bride puts so much thought into when she walk down to the aisle, or likely even after ceremony because they are just thinking about tying the knot. If you want the compliments and the emotion… first look is the perfect option!


The first look is also great for photos… after ceremony the couple typically will only have about 45 minutes of photos which will need to include – couple, family, and wedding party. 45 minutes is NOT a lot of time and NOT a lot of photos. With the first look, they can have a full hour of couple photos if they want, 30-45 minutes of wedding party photos that are playful, and family photos can be done before or after ceremony. Then if the Bride & Groom want to attend cocktail hour, they certainly can, or they can do more couple photos – like sunset shots or more playful shots.


Event planners and photographers get a lot of questions from clients on the pros and cons of whether or not to set up a “first look” before the ceremony. From a photography standpoint, there are usually many more pros to seeing each other beforehand than cons, but what it comes down to is your personal decision. Usually, the biggest hesitation for most couples in seeing each other before the ceremony is in the thought of breaking tradition or not having that “moment” of seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle. The trend in weddings lately has been moving more and more into breaking traditions or making new ones that fit today’s savvy couples.

One of the reasons I’m writing this article is because we have found that weddings where couples see each other before the ceremony usually have a far less stressful timeline. You also get to have plenty more natural light to shoot in and time with the couple for more creative portraits.

Here are two examples of normal wedding timelines – one with seeing each other beforehand and a more traditional timeline.

Traditional Timeline:

- Getting ready shots of bride and groom

- Groom and Groomsmen shots - making sure bride is hidden or in a different location

- Bride and Bridesmaids shots - making sure groom is hidden or in a different location

- Ceremony

- Family Formals – during cocktail hour

- Bridal Party together – during cocktail hour

- Romantics – during cocktail hour

- Reception

First Look Timeline

- Getting ready shots of bride and groom

- First Look – few romantics

- Family Formals

- Whole Bridal Party plus Bride with Bridesmaids/Groom with Groomsmen

- Ceremony

- Romantics – during the first half of cocktail hour

- Bride and Groom entrance during last half of cocktail hour/spend a few minutes by themselves/or keep on shooting romantics and more creative bridal party pics till reception time.

- Reception

So, from looking at both timelines, here are the pros to the First Look

- More time for romantics! This is a big advantage because the more time I have with the bride and groom, the more creative we can get with the location, poses, etc.

- Family members get to enjoy cocktail hour since all family formals are taken beforehand

- The bride and groom get to enjoy cocktail hour a bit (with the traditional timeline, you are shooting the whole cocktail hour)

- We don’t have to try to squeeze family formals, all the bridal party together, and all the romantics into cocktail hour. With a traditional timeline, this usually causes a feeling of being rushed and usually results in less time for pictures of the bride and groom together. It may even result in missing the chance to shoot during the golden hour (the last hour before sunset and best light/most “romantic light”

- Once the ceremony is over, the bride and groom just have to worry about getting more shots of the two of them and then party time! There is definitely more “flow” in this sort of timeline.

- Make-up and hair look “fresher” in the images shot before the ceremony (this is especially true in the hot summer months)

Hopefully, this article has answered some of your questions and helped in planning out your wedding day. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us!


Really against seeing eachother before the wedding but need a way to calm your nerves?

Here is an alternative to seeing one another before the ceremony! Why not share a private letter. Why We Love It: The bride and groom shared a special, private moment together before the ceremony—without seeing each other but still getting great photos!