03 Feb To See or Not To See?… That is The Question!

One of my main duties as a wedding planner is to establish a day-of schedule, and with that comes figuring out what photos will be taken when, in order to maximize time and make it easy for everyone involved. Obviously, the key to all of that is knowing if the couple would like to see each other before the ceremony or wait until the bride is walking down the aisle.

Chances are you probably have already made up your mind about which you prefer and I’m not going to say either way is best… at least, I’ll try. In fact, I’m only going to list the pros for each situation, because I see the benefits of doing it either way.  That being said, here’s a few insights and loveliness to give you some food for thought.

Generally, most photographers prefer to capture your “first look” photos prior to the ceremony for one main reason… TIME. Photos before allow for a relaxed run through of all the important portraits leaving lots more time for getting those fun, artsy shots we all love so much!

And there’s more pros for seeing each other before…

Emotions… Let’s face it, people cry at weddings and unless you’ve been trained in Hollywood on how to cry on camera, chances are you probably won’t like how you look in your photos at that moment in time. Ever heard of the “ugly cry”? Also, isn’t it best to capture everyone when their hair and makeup is fresh?

Herding cats… Have you ever tried it? I have, and while I’m good at it, I find it easier to get everyone together before the ceremony for photos at specific time points. They are generally happy and in good spirits at that time, provided they didn’t tie one on the night before at the rehearsal dinner.  Wedding days are long and after the ceremony, your besties can tend to wander off making it difficult to get everyone in the photos.

Anticipation… No party really starts until the guest of honor arrives – meaning you and your new husband! Providing cocktails, and even allowing dinner to start in your absence is fine, but your guests come to your wedding to celebrate with you. Waiting an hour or more, after seeing you at the ceremony, can be so frustrating for them.

Now, let’s consider the pros for not seeing each other before the ceremony…
Side note – I’m going to try hard to not poke holes in these too much. Sorry, can’t help it!

Superstition… A long, long time ago in a far away land, the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony was for a good reason. Many times the young man had never laid eyes on his bride to be and those making all the arrangements didn’t want all their best laid plans to go out the window in case he changed his mind before standing in front of all those witnesses. Same with the veil being down over the bride’s face, but that’s another post! 🙂 So here I go… I agree, superstitions and traditions can be important and fun to hang onto, but you and yours-to-be arranged your marriage, correct? No surprise then really, so reveal yourselves to each other in a beautiful intimate moment.

Drama… If you haven’t seen Phantom of the Opera, then this may not resonate well with you, but remember that feeling you had in your chest and how your breathing changed when the lights were down low and the incredible music exploded at the same time you first laid eyes on the Phantom? It might not feel exactly that way to your groom, as he sees you for the first time coming down the aisle to the Bridal Chorus, but it’s darn close! There’s something about combining built-up anticipation and dramatic music together that seems to make our chins quiver and eyes well up. I love seeing the groom when he is so fixated on his bride to be and to see him wipe away a tear. It never gets old! That being said though… the drama is still there even if he saw you several hours prior. It’s the music, definitely the music!

Jessica Wright Photography


So, there you have it… To See or Not To See, that IS the question! How do you feel about it? Either way you decide, get creative with your photos. If waiting is what you choose, then set something up that will be fun, but doesn’t give away the surprise either!

I Do, Now I Don't!
Easy Modern Centerpiece Idea