Why We're Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding

Featured Bride Lauren W., Wedding Location: Wayzata, MN | Wedding Date: October 8, 2011 It is a question that I get ALL the time in my profession of being a professional wedding photographer: "Should we see each other before the ceremony or wait?"

Why we are seeing each other before the ceremony:

This is just my personal opinion resulting from many years of shooting couples on their big day.  Although I could never strongly recommend that a bride and groom see each other prior to the ceremony out of professional courtesy, I always politely encourage couples to really think it through.

#1.  Old School Wedding Tradition.

Yes, you have been to a ton of weddings where the first time the groom sees his bride is when she is walking down the aisle. There may even be tears involved. But, do you know why and how this tradition began? Here is a brief history lesson...

In ancient Rome, arranged marriages were practiced. These marriages were often arranged by the families of the couple for financial reasons or political gain. For this reason, the couple was actually rarely involved in any of the planning of the wedding and often times did not even know each other. Now, since finances were involved - both families had a great deal to lose so the groom would not be allowed to see the bride before the marriage in fear that he would not want to go through with the marriage if he was not attracted to her. For that reason again, the bride was veiled from head to toe as well.

Pretty harsh, huh? This practice has migrated into tradition now, even though most don't even know how it started! Well, Ben has seen me and obviously is okay with how I look, so this is the first reason why we are going to see each other before the ceremony.

#2.   Day-of Scheduling.

Now, THIS I know a lot about. I have seen more frustration from couples for this very reason than any other on their wedding day. The biggest complaint of all is not "The cake was too sweet" or "My mascara ran too much," but "There wasn't enough time." It is hard enough to get everything you want from your dream day into a 24 hour period - but even more difficult to get all the photos taken that you want within an 8-, 10- or 12-hour period. By not seeing each other before the ceremony, you limit the amount of photos that can be taken (when makeup and hair is fresh) beforehand. After the ceremony there are always family members who want to see you, Grandma wants another photo, or people go missing for long periods of time because of other distractions. This can be nixed by doing the photos before the ceremony. Cocktail hour is typically just 1 or 2 hours long and whether or not you want to go to a bar or some place fun for photos after - it's a crunch. There is not enough time to be able to relax with your photos and enjoy the process to its fullest extent. It is simply always best to see each other before the ceremony so that you can get every single photo you want and not have to snub family and friends at the receiving line when you are needing to hurry off for your photos.

#3.   First meet is emotional.

A way to get around the tradition of not seeing one another but also having a beautiful experience in seeing each other for the first time is by doing a "First-meet" or "First-look". I am so fond of this new tradition. Not only does this make your photographer's job a dream... but it really is a beautiful experience that you get to share with your soon-to-be husband or wife. Rather than having tens or hundreds of people staring at you for your first reaction seeing each other while walking down the aisle (which can be akward when your nose is dripping from your sobbing and you only have your $250 dream-bouquet as Kleenex) - it is so nice to be able to be alone and share the experience together for the first time in a beautiful location. It is something you will remember for the rest of your life. I tend to be an emotional person and just know that I will be a wreck at our first meet, so this works better for us.

#4.   People want to see you!

Your guests came for you and your husband/wife. They want to see you! So, having to be whisked away for photos for a while takes time away from the people who mean the most to you. Now, in saying all of this, I probably do 75% of my weddings with couples who do see each other beforehand, and 25% who don't, and we make both ways work. However, if I had a choice - all of my clients would see each other beforehand. Not only because it helps with scheduling, but because I know that when I see the faces of my clients at their first meet, I can tell it is really something special. Did I give you a long enough explanation? :) Cheers! LC P.S. Don't forget the Kleenex! Follow Lauren W and her wedding journey here on My Wedding Chat.  If you are interested in becoming a My Wedding Chat Featured Bride and sharing your wedding story with brides and wedding-lovers alike, email bmadsen@weddingshoppeinc.com for more information! Other Posts You’ll Love: Setting the Date Introducing Featured Bride Kai K. Featured Bride Lauren W. on Creative RSVP Ideas

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Mary L.
May 16, 2019 06:46

I love this! Tim (my fi) and I are doing our pics pre-ceremony, because we don’t want our guests waiting around and we want to have time to do them! I love that you brought light to this, and also mentioned that the “first-meet” is still emotional, because my parents are old school and kept insisting on doing them after, because they were worried about us not having that “wow s/he looks gorgeous” moment.
Thanks! :)

May 16, 2019 06:46

What a great article!!!! Loved it!

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