Traditional marriages dictate that it’s bad luck for a groom to see the bride before the ceremony, but what happens when couples break tradition and opt for a first look? One word…magic. For those of you who haven’t heard about this crazy trend, a first look is when a couple gets to see each other in their suit, dress, etc., before the ceremony. It is an incredibly intimate moment that allows the bride and Groom to spend a few moments alone without an audience’s pressure.
First looks are a fantastic way for a couple to share that incredible moment of love and anticipation that comes with staring down the aisle at each other in a private, personal and deeply emotional one-on-one way. There is nothing we love more than capturing when a groom sees his bride coming down the aisle, but that emotion is only amplified during a first look because there are no distractions and no audience.
First, looks aren’t just for the bride and Groom, though! Many brides choose to do a first look with their dads, a moment that is just as–if not more–special than a typical first look. Nothing is more heartwarming than a bride’s father tearing up as he sees her in her dress for the first time, and the love that fills the room as he prepares to walk her down the aisle is incredible to witness.
So is a first look right for you? There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether this is a viable option for you. It is essential to consider tradition and superstitions; doing a “first look” means that the Groom’s traditional moment of seeing the bride for the first time as she comes down the aisle is no longer an option. However, it enables the couple to share that moment alone and calm any pre-wedding jitters either of them may have–ultimately making that walk down the aisle even more special. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
Deciding to do a first look with your partner is a very personal decision, but you can always do one with your parents for photos that are just as moving and beautiful. Whether you share the first look with your parents or spouse-to-be, the images and moments are sure to be magical in every way.
Why the Groom Doesn’t See the Bride Before the Ceremony?
While first looks are becoming more popular, whether it’s because couples are bucking tradition or trying to streamline their photography timelines, the practice of not seeing your fiancé before you walk down the aisle is still holding firm. And as you consider integrating the tradition into your big day, some questions might come up, like, well, where does the practice come from?
The tradition of not seeing your spouse before the wedding is exactly what it sounds like: Avoiding your fiancé before the ceremony starts. The reason is that, back when marriages were arranged, the bride and Groom weren’t allowed to see or meet each other until they were at the altar. Looking for wedding photography Melbourne? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Where the Tradition Originated
Call it bad luck or superstition; not seeing one another before the ceremony can make that first moment as you walk down the aisle even more special. But the tradition has less-than-romantic origins. Arranged marriages used to be the norm, serving more as a business deal between families than a love match. The couple didn’t just spend the morning of the wedding apart: There was a time when it was totally normal (and even expected) for the couple to have never seen one another before the wedding at all.
The deal was usually made by the bride’s father, who wanted his daughter to marry rich to help his own family. However, he might worry that if the Groom sees the bride before the ceremony, he might not find her attractive and call off the wedding—leading to profound shame for the bride and her family. Talk about bad luck. To avoid risking the family’s reputation, the tradition that the couple didn’t see each other until the ceremony was born.
The veil comes into play here, too. By having a cover over the bride’s face, the Groom wouldn’t see her until the very last moment (at the end of the ceremony when they’re meant to kiss) when it was too late to back out. The superstition about a bride and Groom seeing one another before the tradition has evolved into the (much more romantic) idea that the Groom shouldn’t see the bride in her wedding dress until she walks down the aisle. Today, it can symbolize the pair were coming together to start their lives in front of the people who have supported and loved them along the way.
What Happens If We Do See Each Other?
Technically nothing. If you’re superstitious, you might believe that seeing each other will bring bad luck to your marriage, but we’re not sure we believe that. If anything, it will take away from the surprise.
How Long Are We Meant to Stay Away From Each Other?
Depends. Some couples will spend the entire day apart (choosing to sleep separately the night before to make the first night they spend married a little more unique), while others might wake up and have breakfast together and go their separate ways when it’s time to get ready.
Do We Have to Observe the Tradition?
Not. Traditions don’t always age well, so incorporating them into your wedding is entirely up to you.
Instead of waiting to see their spouse while walking down the aisle, many contemporary brides have opted to incorporate the first look into their big day. The first look is “the moment you first see each other on your wedding day. It is evolving into simply being a moment for the couple to appreciate each other.” You still get the emotions that might come up during the ceremony (including the genuine surprise of how great the other person looks), but without an entire audience looking on. Usually, there’s a photographer and videographer there to capture the moment. Afterwards, the bridal party will gather for some pre-ceremony pictures.
We often receive questions from couples about whether or not they should do a first look. Our advice is this: some teams are concerned that a first look might spoil the feeling they’re anticipating seeing each other walking down the aisle. To this, we always say, your first look should not be defined by spending the previous night apart, walking down a hall, or staging a big reveal; it should simply be the look you give each other, knowing that this is the beginning of your life together.
If you still want to stick to the tradition of not seeing your fiancé until the ceremony but like the idea of a first look, some brides opt to have a father-daughter first look moment instead. As you can see from the pictures, it can be just as (if not more) emotional.
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The Traditional (Down The Aisle) First Look
When the Groom wouldn’t see the bride until she walks down the aisle, the traditional first look originated from the history of arranged marriage. Fearing that the soon-to-be couple might try to back out of the family affair, they were prevented from seeing each other until the knot was tied!
Removed from arranged marriages, this continued as a tradition of “supposed bad luck”. If the bride and groom saw each other before the ceremony, it was a sign of bad “juju”.
Regardless, many couples still practice the traditional first look like a highly emotional, public part of their wedding ceremonies. And here are some of the main reasons why:
Doesn’t Frontload the Day
The first half of your wedding day will be the busiest and most accessible part of the day to get behind schedule. Once the ceremony is concluded, the day is much more relaxed, generally speaking. By not doing a modern first look before the ceremony, you’ll have less going on before the ceremony, which means your schedule will be a little less cramped and mission-critical pre-ceremony.
Maybe You’ve Dreamt of That “first Time He Sees You Walking Down the Aisle” Reaction.
It’s legit if you want to do the traditional first look. If it’s your preference, and you like the anticipation, then go for it! There’s nothing wrong with that!
Cons of Doing a Traditional First Look
- More social pressure (for some)
- More time apart from each other
- More time the wedding party is apart
- Instead of ceremony and then celebration, it’s ceremony…and then up to an hour of formals.
The Modern First Look
Although there’s not a lot of formally catalogued history as to where/when/what/and why regarding the introduction of the modern first look, it probably came about as a way to make the wedding-day schedule flow more smoothly while providing a more low-key way for Bride and Groom to see each other before the ceremony.
Today, it’s practised by an increasing number of couples, and here are a few reasons why:
It Can Be More Personal and More Intimate
Do you and your soon-to-be spouse struggle with the thought of having hundreds of eyeballs fixed on your emotional reaction?
A modern first look may be your new best friend.
Not only can you decide who (if anyone) will be watching when you two see each other the first time during your wedding day, but you can have a moment to yourselves to connect and relax.
Now, maybe you want you’re soon to be spouse to cry as you come down the aisle. But, the truth is, some men (especially men) don’t feel comfortable expressing emotion in public. The modern first look is a great way to limit it to a small family and friends.
And, it’s not uncommon for brides and grooms to still cry when she walks down the aisle–even if there was a modern first look!
You Two Spend More Time Together Throughout the Entire Day
Since you get to see each other (instead of avoiding each other), that means you don’t just get to spend the ceremony and reception together. You get to spend possibly hours of more time together.
Since you two get to see each other, that means that the whole wedding party comes together earlier in the day, also! That means more time for the wedding party to, well…party!
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Ceremony and Then Party Some More!
All or most of the formal photos can be done before your ceremony. Or another example is to do immediate family before the ceremony. Then, do shots with the elderly and more prominent group(s) involving an extended family that couldn’t all make it early in the day and didn’t want to be there super early.
Either way, having a first look and then formals before the ceremony limits the amount of time taken up right after the ceremony and before the reception. People don’t get too antsy as everyone else heads to the party. It also allows your photographer(s) to have more time to get reception area shots if you’d like to have that photographed before guests enter!
Cons of Doing a Modern First Look
- Your ceremony may need to begin a little later since you’ll need to make time for your first look and formal photos of the wedding party and family (if you’re also doing those before the ceremony).
- If you and your soon-to-be-spouse want to do a traditional first look, then settling wouldn’t be a good idea.
The Professional Perspective: First Look vs. Down the Aisle
Most photographers would suggest a modern first look because it reduces the post-ceremony rush of family formals, and it helps allow the day to go more smoothly. We think that your schedule can run super smoothly either way and that it comes down to your preference and what works with your schedule. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
First look photos are shots captured during a private moment when the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day. Because these photos are taken before the wedding ceremony itself, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not this modern practice takes the romance and excitement out of a bride’s walk down the aisle.
While traditional brides will balk at the idea of seeing they’re betrothed before getting to the altar, many others are seeing the benefits of this popular wedding photo trend.
We wanted to hear more about the pros and cons of first look photos from the people snapping them. Here is some advice on the ups and downs of opting for first look photos.
You can experience one of the most romantic moments of your day in private.
First look photos give you a moment in your crazy day to tell each other how much you love each other in private,” explains Carleigh Babiak from Carleigh Babiak Photography in Manitoba. This alone time will allow you to show your genuine emotions and maybe get some tears out before the ceremony.
“When you see each other for the first time at the altar, you can’t touch each other or talk to each other,” says Kim Payant from Kim Payant Photography in Alberta. “My husband got emotional during the first look because no one was watching; I’m sure if we saw each other the traditional way, we wouldn’t have gotten as emotional,” she adds.
You won’t miss the cocktail hour.
Scheduling first look photos before your ceremony saves valuable time you can spend enjoying the party you spent so long planning. Schedule your family and wedding party shots directly after your first look at photos before the ceremony, and then you’ll be able to proceed to cocktail hour with the rest of your guests!
Your photographer will be able to capture more raw emotion.
“At the church, it’s not always easy to capture these shots because there are lots of people around, and the couples are usually not as emotional,” says Payant. “I usually do the first look right before the ceremony somewhere quiet and private.”
It’s bad luck to see each other before the ceremony.
The idea that it’s bad luck to see your betrothed before you get to the altar originated when marriages were more commonly arranged and the bride and Groom would be kept apart just in case one didn’t like how the other looked.
“Happily, in five years of shooting wedding photos, I’ve never seen a modern couple call it off at the last minute due to surprise hideousness!” jokes New Brunswick-based wedding photographer Kandice Brown.
“Ultimately, when it comes down to whether or not to see each other beforehand, I always tell my couples to go with their hearts,” says Brown. There’s no need to cause yourself undue stress on a day when emotions are already running high.
It may take away from the excitement of walking down the aisle.
“When couples are considering not doing a first look, it’s for one of two reasons: either they’ve heard it’s bad luck, or they don’t want to ruin the excitement of the walking-down-the-aisle moment,” says Brown.
This is a non-traditional wedding practice.
If you’re a traditional girl who wants to tie the knot the same way your mother and grandmother did, then this modern wedding photography trend is probably not for you. Older generations also may not understand the allure of this type of photo session, and if they’re helping to foot the photography bill, their opinions might come into play.
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No matter what you decide to do, the moment you and your partner see each other for the first time will undoubtedly be an unforgettable moment, so choose what’s right for you and enjoy your big day!