The tradition of not seeing the bride until the aisle actually comes from times of arranged marriages. Families negotiated a deal, and to keep the groom from possibly backing out of the deal, the bride was not revealed to him until all the way at the end of the aisle, when the veil was lifted. The veil is actually another way of hiding the bride from the groom until the last possible moment he might be able to protest!
Let’s be honest though. While that tradition seems somewhat barbaric, many brides, especially the more traditional ones, dream of that moment on the aisle when their groom stands waiting and sees them for the first time in their wedding dress. Gone are the days of the family negotiation or business transaction. The moment that you feel your most beautiful is heightened by seeing his expression as he looks at you for the first time on the aisle. From when they are a little girl, many brides dream of this moment.
So, why on earth is your wedding photographer or wedding planner trying to take this moment on the aisle away from you? Why do they so strongly recommend a First Look?
It all comes down to scheduling, taking into factors such as a changing demand for the type of photos couples want, as well as their consideration for weather at their outdoor event.
Weddings have changed drastically in the past few decades. Most couples no longer have lengthy church ceremonies, followed by hours of photos, and topped off by an evening of dinner and reception. Most weddings are held outdoors in natural light in the evening with cocktail hour and dinner to immediately follow. Add Pinterest to the mix and wedding photography has become a whole new ball game! A much greater emphasis is on photos of details and a variety of bridal party and couple’s poses (which I LOVE).
I absolutely adore capturing couple’s portraits and details, and I tend to connect well with couples who also love couple’s portraits and photos of details. Hands down, the best way to get the most couples and details photos is to have a First Look. We have the opportunity before the ceremony for couple’s portraits as well as sneaking in some sunset portraits after the ceremony.
With a First Look, we capture details in natural light, and then organize the First Look session where you see each other. From there, we naturally go into couple’s portraits followed by bridal party and family photos. After the ceremony, we take extended family photos (if requested) and couple’s sunset portraits. For weddings with a First Look, I definitely notice that I have more couple’s photos and I have more of a variety of the photos.
Since most of my couples plan outdoor weddings, they are taking into consideration the seasonal weather as they plan. The time of sunset plays a major role in deciding the ceremony start time and the discussion of having a First Look. On December 21st, the shortest day of the year, the sun sets at 5:30. For the whole month of December, if there is not a First Look session, the ceremony start time needs to be around 3:30 to allow for time for photos after. On the flip side, in the summer, to beat the heat, a lot of my couples will have their First Look earlier, and take portraits in the shade. Then they go inside to cool off. They often plan so that their guests only stay out in the heat for half an hour while the ceremony takes place. Then guests head inside for cocktail hour while we briefly wrap up extended family photos and then take sunset pictures.
I am here to help you plan out the best timeline to suit what you want! It is my job to give you all of the information, and then you can make the best—and more informed—choice with your fiancé. This is something that the two of you should decide together, and it is no problem at all if you decide to wait and see each other on the aisle. It is one of the first conversations we will have so we can plan your timeline.
Again, the First Look session allows us ample time to photograph a variety of couple’s portraits in the best of natural light, and fits well with the modern bride’s wedding timeline and outdoor venue. It is my goal to give you all of the information you need to make this choice, and I am here to help you plan whichever choice you make!