We have all heard that it is “bad luck” for the groom to see the bride before the wedding, and many couples take this tradition quite seriously; however, many do not know about the less-than-romantic origins of this tradition.
During the time when arranged marriages were customary, the betrothed couple was not allowed to see each other before the wedding. Marriage, for many families, was essentially a “business deal.”. The father, who was the head of the household, would ideally marry off his daughter to a rich, land-owning male. Once the engagement was contracted, the parents of the bride and groom would keep the couple apart, fearing that if the groom saw the bride before the wedding and found her unattractive, he wouldn’t go through with the marriage. While today we think of the wedding veil as a lovely must-have accessory, its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out what the bride looked like until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out of the transaction. Romantic, huh?
More and more couples today are choosing to buck tradition in favor of the “first look” before the wedding ceremony. While the Church has no definitive stance on first looks, every couple has different reasons as to why they would or would not do a first look. Below are three reasons to consider having a first look, and three alternative ideas to consider if you want to have a moment with your groom before the wedding, while saving the “big reveal” for your walk down the aisle.
Maximize your time for photos without sacrificing time at the reception.
While you may have your photographer for 8-10 hours, it’s amazing how fast time flies on the day of your wedding and how easily the timeline can get sidetracked. Most often, portraits with family and the bridal party take longer than expected, and then the next you know, you only have less than 15 minutes to take romantic images of just you and your groom. When you make the first look a priority, it gives you time for those special portraits without being rushed to your cocktail hour or reception. Especially when you also place a large investment into your wedding photography, getting the time to get more photographs of just you and your groom together and in such a candid and special moment can definitely be worth it!
Diminish pre-wedding nerves.
Some couples have a hard time showing emotion in front of a crowd, and understandably so. There is a lot of emotion mounting up to that moment of seeing each other for the first time. When you do a first look with just you and your groom (and your photographer(s) in the background), it gives you both the chance to be yourselves freely while seeing each other for the first time without a crowd of loved ones snapping iPhone photos.
Get some much-needed alone time with your husband.
The first look allows you and your groom to have some alone time before your day gets busy. Unless you set time aside for it later in the day, it’s the only time you both will be alone on your wedding day until you leave the reception. It can also help set the tone for the perfect mood for romantic portraits. Images of just the two of you are also what you’ll decorate your home with and possibly pass down to family, so it makes sense to spend some quality time taking them
Alternatives to the First Look
While a first look has its many perks, it’s not for every couple. Here are some alternative or additional photography ideas for your big day:
A First Look with Dad or Father Figure
If you’re a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl, or have a close relationship with another male relative, this is a lovely option to consider. Another idea is also for the father to escort the bride to the first look with the groom.
A First Look with the Bridal Party
You have been through the engagement party, the bridal shower, and the bachelorette party. Now your bridesmaids are excited to see your completed look on your wedding day. Have your photographer catch their reactions as they finally see you dressed as a bride!
The “Reach and Pray”
This one is my personal favorite. It’s a beautiful and meaningful way for a bride and groom to come together before the ceremony while still avoiding the pre-wedding first look. You can hold hands around a corner or a door, or keep your eyes closed in a prayerful exchange in your favorite grotto or side chapel.
No matter what you decide for photographs on your wedding day, communicate with your photographer and make sure you get enough allotted time to capture images of just you and your spouse. These will be the images that you will always cherish.