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Should we see each other before the ceremony?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The practice of not allowing the groom to see the bride dates back to the times of arranged marriages. The father of the bride was reportedly afraid that the groom might back out if he didn’t like the looks of his intended so they postponed the “unveiling” until the ceremony. Nowadays, you know each other, and you know what to expect when you see each other at the ceremony. Letting go of that old superstition and deciding to meet early has so many advantages that more and more couples are deciding to have a “first look” meeting.

If you opt to meet before the ceremony, you can truly make the most of your day. We schedule the “first look” to take place as soon as the bride and groom are dressed. You can see each other while you’re still fresh and excited; you aren’t tired from doing group formals, and you aren’t nervous about the ceremony. It’s a special, shared moment that you have to talk, hug, pray, and just enjoy being together. Then the two of you can spend 20-30 minutes “alone” together getting great couple portraits.

For your special “first look” meeting, you can even decide to put him at the end of the aisle and walk down to him. However, most couples choose to have his back turned until you’re ready to jump into his arms. That way you can still have the precious moment during the ceremony when he sees you walking toward him.

Some of my most emotional vow exchanges have been with couples who saw each other before the ceremony. They were more relaxed and able to focus on the words that they were exchanging rather than the butterflies in their stomach. They really felt like they were doing something together and felt connected in a way that you might not feel if you’ve spent the day apart.

If you meet at the altar, you have lots of eyes on you and can’t really enjoy the moment. So many other things are going through your head, and the excitement of the moment gets pent up until the end of the ceremony. When you finally do get a minute to talk to each other, it’s usually something really profound like, “Hey, we did it!” After the ceremony, you’re rushed and stressed to get the group pictures out of the way. Then at the reception, you’ll have the dance and cake cutting, but most of the time will be spent socializing with other people. Even if you can retouch your makeup and find your bouquet and veil to sneak off and do more photos together, you’ll be tired and feel rushed to get back to your guests.

Some brides are stuck thinking that it is more romantic for him to see you for the first time as you are coming down the aisle. It is romantic, and if that’s the way that you want it to go then do it your way. You can always focus on being with family and friends at the wedding and then schedule a newlywed session later to have more photos taken together. However, sharing that private time together and then enjoying the rest of the wedding without the extra stress is romantic too. The important thing is that the two of you discuss the alternatives and decide what is important to you. Do what you want. Then you’ll be happy, and the guests will be happy (even if they have to stand around and wait for a while at the reception) because you’re happy.

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