When meeting with our clients to plan the photography for their wedding, a key part of the planning includes the question: Should the couple see each other before the ceremony?
Modern weddings sometimes conform to tradition, yet more couples are finding their own paths that work best for them and their guests. The bottom line is there is no one right or wrong answer to this–only the way which you feel most comfortable. That said, let’s lay out some advantages and disadvantages to seeing each other prior to your ceremony.
There are two primary advantages to what we call First Sight. The first is that you get to, often in the presence of your photographer, enjoy a few private moments alone with your soon-to-be-spouse. As the bulk of your wedding day is often dictated by a pre-ordained schedule, this period may be the only opportunity the two of you have alone to reflect on the commitment you’re each about to make. Many clients have reported the alleviating of undue nervousness because they saw their partner first.
The second primary advantage to a First Sight is you now have the opportunity to do some portraits with the two of you, your wedding party, and perhaps even your family members prior to the ceremony. The upside to all this? You can now attend most, if not all, of your cocktail hour, mingling with your guests. This may also negate or minimize the need to visit each table during dinner, which has the added benefit of giving you and your new spouse the opportunity to actually eat your delicious meal without rushing through it.
Your parents, or even your partner, may have strong feelings against doing this. Just like in any relationship, the planning of your wedding will involve some compromise, and it is up to the two of you to communicate how strongly you each feel about your position. A little give and take is a good thing here.
Some partners may feel that seeing each other prior to the ceremony can lose some of the emotional charge of proceeding down the aisle and seeing each other then. Again, if feelings are strong on this point, it may be best to leave well enough alone. But in our personal experience as well as the experience of the vast majority of our clients, this feeling remains strong throughout.
Why? With First Sight it’s a completely different feeling – it’s just the two of you – and you have the freedom to act and speak freely with each other. Whereas with the start of your ceremony, your partner is waiting for you with everyone watching, the music is playing, and there is the feeling of imminent marriage. Speaking from Bill’s personal experience, it is a completely different feeling. I never once felt a sense of loss in seeing Anne before our own celebration, and our clients have reported similar feelings.
While most of our clients who see each other do so privately, some couples will opt to have their families and/or their wedding party present to celebrate with them. This is, of course, your individual choice. In the end, your schedule as well as religious customs may also play a role in deciding to see each other. The key is to speak with your partner about his or her feelings, as well as your wedding planner and photographer to discuss logistics and what you can expect. But in the end, regardless of your choice, you’ll be married. Congratulations!
Check out the ISPWP Wedding Photographer Directory for photographers serving your area.