Dec 17, 2013

First Look

The First look is increasingly becoming a staple of modern weddings. It’s arguably the most engaging and emotional way to celebrate your wedding day. Of the many hours spent away from one another during your wedding day, getting ready, greeting guests or tending to other wedding matters, this is the one moment where you actually have privacy (save for a photographer and a couple videographers, but honestly we’re more like flies on the wall). It’s the moment where you can genuinely, naturally and honestly say “I love you” with only an audience of one. No matter how prepared you are, recollection of your wedding day will likely amount to a fleeting moment in your married history. You hired a videographer and a photographer for a reason, to attempt to contain these memories and preserve them for generations.

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What is a First Look?

A First Look is where the bride and groom meet privately at a secluded location after they have finished getting dressed up but before the actual ceremony. There are many variations of this, but more on that later. While many may look at this as ruining the experience of seeing the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle, I strongly beg to differ.

Debunking the Tradition Myth

According to the origin of this tradition comes from a time when marriages were arranged by parents. Weddings at that time symbolized a business transaction (probably reserved for middle class families and above), where a father would marry his daughter to a man who hails from a rich family that owns land. Worldwide, arranged marriages were common until the 18th century. In the United States, arranged marriages were common in migrant families until the end of the first half of the 20th century. Arranged marriages are not uncommon in countries in Asia.

The reasoning behind the two not seeing each other comes from the fact that the father of the bride was paranoid about his transaction, and because of this a rule was put in place to prevent the groom from meeting the bride prior to the ceremony. The fear was that if the groom met the bride beforehand, he may find her unattractive and immediately call off the wedding. Such a political act would result in potentially causing serious damage to the family’s reputation.

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It’s worth arguing that other traditions have grown from this over the years (ones that are more religious in nature), but we do know that no one’s father is worried about the “transaction” taking place between the groom and the bride. Any other traditions that you may be in fear of breaching are purely symbolic.

But why? Why do a First Look?

The main explanation I give to brides and grooms is that the First Look allows you to schedule the only real private time you’ll be awarded during your very busy wedding day. Considering the fact that more than half of the day is spent away from one another and the other half is spent in front of the eyes of your friends and family, having a private moment with one another can be effective in several ways.

Think about how the ceremony usually goes. Typically the bride appears and walks down the isle. The groom tries his best to absorb this incredible moment that every groom is supposed to be in awe about. As soon as the bride reaches the groom, he isn’t allowed to say anything. He can’t say “my god, you are so beautiful. You look stunning.” He has to silently wait while the officiant asks the father to hand his daughter over. Before the groom can open his mouth the officiant launches on some oratory that completely defuses the dramatic appearance of the bride and the intense batch of emotions the groom feels dissipate while he tries to concentrate on the words of the speaker.

A First Look allows the groom to bask in the moment. To take all the time he needs to wrap his mind around the impossible beauty of his soon to be wife. Not only that, but he can share these thoughts verbally. He can tell his soon to be wife how long he has waited to see her and how absolutely perfect she looks. Perhaps they will cry together. Maybe they will laugh at how absurdly emotional the moment is. Regardless of the reaction, it’s a reaction that cannot be captured at any other point of the wedding.

For those who absolutely refuse to see one another before the wedding, there are variations that still give you a private moment together.

One example would be holding hands at the corner of a wall or with a door in between you too. You’ll still feel the intensity of the moment. It’s all about getting that private time. Instead of talking about how beautiful the bride looks, you could express your anticipation for seeing her walk down the isle.

Unforgettable moments seem to be the only results we get from a First Look. Think about it.


Special thanks to KT Marie Photography for our featured photo.

And special thanks to the unbelievably talented Shipra Panosian for the photos in the blog. It’s a real honor to be able to share a taste of her masterful work.


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