Everybody knows that it’s bad luck to for the groom to see his bride before the wedding, right? Of course! So why the heck do I ask all my couples to see each other ahead of the ceremony? Am I a witch doctor? Am I trying to hex you? Of course not!
Surprisingly, not many people know from where this tradition stems. Allow me to tell you a little story.
The back story:
Not that long ago, in lands not that far from here, women were considered the property of their families. Any and all decisions regarding their lives were lovingly made for them by their fathers — including the careful selection of the men they were to marry. Fathers attempted to match their daughters with men of influence, wealth, strength and land ownership, or some combination of the four, to assure their daughters’ livelihoods. Their hearts were in the right place, at least.
However, once the selection was made, the prospective newlyweds did not see one another before their nuptials were finalized. Great care was taken to keep the two from catching even a glimpse of each other. In fact, at the ceremony, brides marched down the aisle cloaked from head to toe, even donning a completely opaque veil (a tradition we’ve slightly modified) until after the vows were said.
But why? Well, to put it bluntly: In case one (or both!) of them was less than handsome to look at!
Seriously! The bride and groom weren’t allowed to see each other until AFTER they were married in case one of them was ugly and the other wanted to run screaming for the hills! No joke!
Okay, so I assume you’ve come to me because you’ve had a hand in picking the man or woman you’d like to pledge your life to. So tell me: Now that we’ve lightened the veil and given ladies a choice when it comes to their partners, why the heck can’t brides and grooms see each other before they marry?
Can you guess my answer? There’s no reason why not!
But I fully understand why it’s hard for people to break tradition. Heck, I’m 26 and I still open one present on Christmas Eve, even if I only have two presents, simply because it’s what I’ve done my whole life. So let me tell you why I recommend it.
1) Getting married is stressful. You’re about to see your soon-to-be-spouse all dolled up just for you, at the head of the aisle in front of potentially hundreds of other eyeballs. You may even be mic’d. So all those sweet nothings and compliments you planned to whisper? Not happening.
2) Getting married requires a rigid timeline. After the ceremony, I have to take formal photos of you two, your bridal party and your immediate (and extended!) families — all while corralling your Great Uncle Herbert and your Second-Cousin-Twice-Removed Millie and anyone else you want in your photos. And all in time to get them (and you!) up to the reception. Sometimes in less than 30 minutes! Don’t get me wrong, I can do this — oh boy, can I! But why rush?
3) You and your spouse are the most important people in front of my lens. When you look back on your wedding album 1, 5, 15, even 30 years from now, you’ll want to see your bridesmaids, groomsmen and families, but mostly you’ll want to see each other. This means we need to spend as much time together as possible — and it’s probably not happening after the ceremony.
About an hour and a half before the ceremony, I set you up in a private space, with the groom facing away from the bride. I strategically place myself to snap a handful of very meaningful shots when the groom turns to see his future wife in her dress for the first time… and then I leave you alone. Totally alone! A rare treat on your wedding day, I promise you.
Leaving you solo gives you two the private, quiet time you need to drink one another in, to appreciate the meaning of your day together and to say whatever the heck you want without anyone else listening! And once you’re ready, relaxed and happy, we’re off for one entire uninterrupted hour of shooting stunning photographs of just the two of you. Perfect!
And as a consequence of all this rule breaking and tradition smashing, you’re both cool as cucumbers by the time you’re ready to walk down the aisle. You’ve laughed, you’ve smiled and you’ve already said everything you could think of. Well, except that one important thing. (“I do.”)
Am I going to force you to do this? Heck no! It’s your wedding, not mine. You’re hiring me to take your pictures, not plan your wedding. So the final decision is totally up to you. I just like to present all the options. :)