Wedding Advice: To See or Not to See


In a new weekly installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to your most difficult wedding questions based on the issues and questions I am asked about in real life. If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!

You’ve lived together for two years, you’ve seen each other through everything, but you can’t quite decide if you should see each other before walking down the aisle.

Question 1: My fiance and I can’t decide whether to see each other before we get married.  My photographer suggests that we do, but I am just not sure…  I’m not really superstitious about it being bad luck, but I just wonder if it takes some of the specialness away from the moment when I walk down the aisle… – Mr. and Mrs. Surprise Love

Answer:  Today, I am fully supportive of the first look, and I admit I did not always feel that way.  When I first heard of this concept, I thought it might be a little too cheesy (even for me), or that it wasn’t quite so magical as it appeared in photos.  I was wrong. (8/10/2011 – 9:45am)

Early on, when we started planning our photography with the amazing photography wife-husband duo of  Ashley and Philip at 1313, we planned to have a first look session primarily for practicality:

  • I was pushing our ceremony until as late as possible, but before sunset – that’s about 5:58pm – leaving little time for well-lit photos after the “I-do’s”
  • We wanted to have a consistent flow from ceremony, to cocktail hour, to reception
  • The majority of our guests had traveled from out of town and we didn’t want to miss out on spending any time with while they were partying, and we were take pictures

Like most practical wedding decisions, eventually emotion crept in.

I spent the day with my mother, sister, friends and family getting ready at one hotel.  A block away, Mark was with his friends also getting ready.  Ashley and Philip arrived to take my “getting ready” photos, and then they left to take Mark’s.

Then Ashley and Philip coordinated my arrival to Mark’s hotel, via limousine, to find Mark for our first look.

He was standing at the middle of a courtyard, by himself, with his back towards me.  It seemed as if time stood still.  I didn’t hear anyone, or see anyone.

First Look: 1313 Photography

I was walking, and walking and walking…

First Look: 1313 Photography

And then, I arrived.

First Look: 1313 Photography

I touched his shoulder, he turned around, and then it was all shock and awe(some)…

First Look: 1313 Photography

What was the most special about the first look moment for me, was that as soon as it happened it became “our wedding day”.  The planning was over.  The license was signed.  We were going to be moving forward from that moment, through the rest of the day, and our lives as partners, as a team and as husband and wife.

That may seem like a lot to capture in a photograph, but that’s how I feel.  That look in our faces is as much of “I can’t believe today is the day” as it is “I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

In the planning of a wedding there are lots of opportunities to lose sight of each other, the intimacy of moments, and the magnitude of the marriage versus the wedding.  By securing those first few moments, just for us, without our friends and family I feel like we were able to connect, release any lingering stomach butterflies, and smile like husband and wife.

Also, to calm any fears that this moment, the first look, lessens the significance of the second “first look” your partner has when they see you walk down the aisle, I will say that’s simply not the case.   When you walk down the aisle it is music, theatrics, flowers, families, flash bulbs, and ironically, you won’t hear a beat, see a face you recognize, again you will only see the face at the end of the aisle.

Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Let me know. And, if there a wedding related issue you want advice on or just some tips – leave a note in the comments.

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