To look or not to look?

That is the question.

Images by Grapefruit  and Katie Tiller Photography@

While it has been a long-standing wedding day tradition for the groom not to see his bride before the ceremony, you may ask is that tradition still pertinent today?

All traditions have a history so let’s begin by considering where this tradition originated. Once upon a time, it was customary for parents to arrange marriages for their children. They wanted to ensure that their children “married well”.  The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families and the betrothed couple wasn’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all.  The reason for this?? There was always the chance that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and wasn’t attracted to her, he would call off the wedding! To avoid that scenario, it became traditional that the bride and groom were only allowed to meet AT the wedding ceremony. And that veil the bride wears?? You guessed it! Its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out who was behind that veil until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out!! Can you imagine??!!

Consider the thoughts that went through the bride’s head as she peered through that veil! Among all the other questions going through her mind, she was probably anticipating how the groom would react when the veil was removed and he got his first look at her.  Fast forward to today. The bride today, while very familiar with her groom, still anticipates his reaction when he gets the “First Look” on their wedding day. She has chosen a beautiful gown that flatters her best features.  Hair and make-up are done to perfection.  This is the day they have waited for, and the emotions are surfacing. How will her groom react when he sees her?

  Thank goodness times have changed from the day of arranged marriages! However, the tradition of not seeing each other before the actual ceremony on the wedding day has remained. There are a number of reasons for this. The main reason is that couples believe it builds excitement and anticipation leading up to that special moment when the groom first sees his beautiful bride walking down the aisle toward him. Another reason is that some couples simply enjoy taking part in long held traditions. However, many contemporary couples are opting for a new tradition: Getting dressed for their wedding day and then meeting privately before the ceremony for their “First Look” of the day. Only their photographer is with them to capture these special moments.

There are practical advantages to this new tradition. Here are a few things to consider.

 It calms the nerves.  Many couples who opt for a private “First Look” say that it makes them feel more at ease. Wedding day jitters are perfectly normal. After all, this is one of the biggest days of your life!  Anticipating the events of the day and all they entail can certainly cause stress. Having these special private moments can give you peace of mind knowing your partner is there for you. It allows you both to collectively take a deep breath before the ceremony begins.

    It takes some pressure off of expectations.  You have probably already thought about what your groom’s reaction will be when he first sees you.  Perhaps you have a picture in your mind of what that will look like. Well, what if it isn’t what you imagined? Sometimes, the excitement and stress of the events of the day can stifle genuine emotions.  Or perhaps your groom doesn’t show his emotions, or he isn’t the type to get teary eyed, even though you imagined he would! Or perhaps your groom is very emotional and to avoid feeling embarrassed, would try to stifle his emotions in front of a crowd. If you, the bride, have thought about his reaction, maybe he has thought about it too! Meeting privately relieves the pressure of being expected to act a certain way.  Seeing each other privately is much different than seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony when all eyes are on you. With the private first look, your emotions and those of your groom will be genuine, in private, and preserved for memory by your photographer. Besides, emotions will still be exhibited at the ceremony, as the two of you focus, not on a first reaction…that will already be out of the way….but on your vows to each other and what this special day means for your life together.

     You will have more time to express your emotions. A private meeting before the wedding allows time for you to share emotions, embrace, and savor the moment before the ceremony begins. While the “First Look” at the ceremony can certainly be a very touching part of the wedding, there won’t be much time for reaction because you must move through the rest of the ceremony without too much delay.

     You’ll get some privacy. The morning of the wedding, you will be with your family and your attendants and the guests will be arriving very soon. Once your guests arrive,you will be surrounded and the wedding day will fly by! The “First Look” before the ceremony offers a few moments for you to be alone together before you are encircled by your family and friends.

  It eases the photo schedule. Having the “First Look” before the wedding allows you to go ahead and get formal photos together out of the way. Your photographer can take bride and groom portraits, and portraits of both of you with your families and the wedding party before the wedding. In addition, you can work with your photographer to get those outdoor shots at the best time of the day without having to work around your ceremony schedule. And another big plus:  you don’t have to miss out on part of your reception because you are busy taking photos! After the wedding, all you have to think about is enjoying your reception and spending time with your family and friends!

Flowers by Sweet Peas Floral Designs

Some alternatives to “First Look” before the wedding

Maybe you want the best of both traditions. If you want to save the “First Look” for the wedding ceremony, but like the idea of a private moment together before the wedding, there are some alternatives. One beautiful and sweet idea is praying behind a door. The couple stands not facing each other, but on opposite sides of a door or around a corner.  They hold hands and pray out loud over their marriage and wedding day.  Feeling your loved one’s touch and hearing their voice can calm the nerves, and at the same time, enhance the excitement and anticipation of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. Another alternative is to write each other a letter or give a small gift before the ceremony. This is a way of communicating your love and support for each other before the wedding, even though you may not be physically present.

While this modern tradition has its advantages, there are some other factors to consider:

The “First Look” takes more time. Having the first look prior to your wedding means that you must get ready earlier and stay in your wedding clothes longer.  Time must be allowed not only for the first look, but also for taking more formal photos before the ceremony. Also, after an embrace, a kiss, and some happy tears, you must allow time to touch up your hair and makeup before pictures and again before the wedding.

Some parents want to witness the first look. If your parents are actively involved in your wedding planning, they may not want to miss out on your reaction when you see each other for the first time on your wedding day. Consider discussing your decision with them to see how they feel.

What will you choose for your wedding day?

 If time-honored traditions are important to you and you want your family and friends to witness your “first look” during the ceremony, then by all means, stick with tradition! However, if you want to spend a few private moments with your fiancé before you say your vows and spend more time with your guests during your reception, then the modern “First Look” option is for you! To look or not to look? The decision is yours!! After all, it is YOUR special day!!!

Victoria Belle Mansion and White Barn is the perfect wedding venue for any season!

The mansion is a gorgeous backdrop for your romantic fairytale wedding! Let Vickie Brown, owner and certified wedding consultant, help make your wedding dreams come true.  The mansion is the focal point of the estate; yet the estate also offers a Garden Gazebo with 2 garden fountains, a Covered Veranda overlooking a rock waterfall, a Vintage White Barn with views of the vineyard and our newest outdoor venue, “The Cedars”, which offers views of the vineyard and the White Barn.

Contact Victoria Belle at 706-637-4933 or by e-mail at VICKIE@VICTORIABELLEWEDDINGS.COM.

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