Should we see each other before the ceremony?


To see or not to see… that is the question


I get this question a lot, “Should we see each other before the ceremony?” It’s tough, I get it, for years the tradition has it, the BIG unveiling as you walk down the aisle. We all have this picture in our heads. The groom teary eyed waiting patiently at the end of the aisle, and you walking slowly allowing all your guests to gaze, oooh, and ahhh. You get to the end of the aisle, look the groom in the eyes, smile, turn and face the preacher, begin ceremony. I was there, that is exactly what I did, as most of my dear friends did. If someone had asked me if I was going to see my fiance before the ceremony, I would have gasped with a huge “NO way!”  My response to the question was almost like it was forbidden!!! Little did I really understand why I was saying that “no way” to this forbidden treasure. I’ve grown, I’ve seen the light, and I see why perhaps now it might have been a good idea to have at least considered it. I remember getting to the end of that aisle and all I wanted was to give my new hubs a giant hug and plant an “I’m so excited” kiss right on his lips!! SO, my hope in this article is to share a few good reasons and, at the very least, give you the “I considered it” option.

Going into this article, I know most of you might already be thinking, your just another photographer trying to push the “see each other beforehand” on you. So before I proceed, please understand, that I am a traditionalist at heart. I love sentimental things, traditions, and family. There is something special about doing something because mom did it, or even because grandma did it. There is something pretty cool about it. I love those old cake cutting photos of grandma and grandpa, and I am looking forward to having my cake cutting photo at my grandchild’s wedding. Super neat to think about that as a tradition. It took me, even being a photographer, a really long time before I really liked the idea of seeing each other before the ceremony.


That said, imagine this. You walk through the doors, down a long path. In front of you gazing back, your fiancé smiling, teary eyed, and patiently waiting for you to be standing beside him. You approach each other, hold hands, embrace. You embrace some more! He tells you how stunning you look, as he twirls you around. You tell him how handsome he looks in his new suit. You embrace again, maybe kiss, and enjoy the moment. That sounds lovely doesn’t it? The picture I am trying to share is that it is pretty much the same. The grand moment, that big unveiling still can be accomplished, the only difference is that instead of leading right into your ceremony you have the opportunity to actually look, touch, and talk to each other- oh, also, without the entire congregation watching you. Now you have plenty of time to take photos, spend time with family and your wedding party, heck even thirty minutes before separate and do it all over again for your ceremony. Sounds fun, but still not convinced? Ok, well, then I have a few questions for you? This is what I would ask any of my clients when preparing their photography day for them.

When you ceremony is over will there be any natural light left?
 When your ceremony starts will you still have more than half the day to spend with each other? 
Do you have a good amount of time after the ceremony ends and before the reception activities begin to allow for photos?
 Does the thought of keeping your guests waiting stress you out a little?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then I would lightly encourage you to consider seeing each other before hand. Here’s why…

When you ceremony is over will there be any natural light left?
 Most folks when they envision what their photos will look like envision the sun. I can pretty much guess that 85% of you are envisioning that. As a photographer, I am all about creative lighting and evening shots, but they have a very different look and feel then photos that were lit by our beautiful sun. So, if your ceremony will end when the sun has said it’s “good day”, and you are hoping for any sunfilled photos, maybe consider it.

When your ceremony starts will you still have more than half the day? 
Most of my client’s ceremonies usually start at 4, 6, or even 6pm during the summer months. If your ceremony starts at 6pm for example, by the time your ceremony is done, and then photos, you will have only spent about 4 hours of your actual wedding day together. Where if you saw each other before the ceremony, say at 3pm, that bumps your wedding day time together to a whopping 9 hours! I mean your soon to be spouse is the person you really want to spend your wedding day with, right?! If that is the case, maybe consider it.

Do you have a good amount of time after the ceremony ends and before the reception activities begin to allow for photos?
 Some of my clients have a limited time in their reception venue, therefore, pretty much immediately after their ceremony they want to head over and start their reception activities! Totally understandable! However, those photos of your families, and then some of just the two of you are equally important. Those photos need time. At the very least, 20 minutes for your formals, and 20 minutes for just the two of you. Time and photos you don’t want to cut short. If you aren’t able to give that, then maybe consider it.

Does the thought of keeping your guests waiting stress you out a little? 
I hear this all the time and I completely understand! The party can’t officially start until the guests of honor arrive! So if after your ceremony, you want enough time to relax through those photos, and not feel the burden of waiting guest. If you want to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests, then maybe consider it.

So hopefully I’ve painted a good picture of what a moment could be like when you choose to see each other beforehand, it still can be that magical anticipating moment! Only this way, you get to enjoy the moment without going right into your ceremony. Also, I hope I gave you some other thought provoking reasons, photography related and not, to hopefully not completely shun the idea. I promise it’s not as forbidden as it seems. I don’t want to convince you one way or the other, but rather give you the opportunity to say, “yes, I’ve considered it, and feel the best thing for us is….” Bottom line is, it is your day to spend it exactly how you want to, and if tradition is important to you, who said you couldn’t be the one creating the traditions….make the moment yours.

Posted by: Alea Moore Photography | March 17th, 2010 | Posted in: Featured, Modern Photographers

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