Grace and I did not see each other from our welcome drinks party the night before our wedding to when I walked down the aisle at 5:30pm on our wedding day. I knew from the beginning of wedding planning that I wanted to keep our wedding day very traditional in many ways, this being one of them. But I was surprised at how some of our vendors assumed we were doing a “first look” and how we even got push back from some prospective vendors on this (we didn’t hire any of them!).
For those who haven’t heard of it, a first look is when the couple sees each other in their wedding attire prior to the ceremony to take some photos and potentially avoid being as emotional walking down the aisle. I have nothing against first looks and think it’s a great choice for some couples. But I’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle in my beautiful gown to my future spouse and seeing them for the first time that day. My mom had never even heard of a first look and many people in her generation seem to be surprised at the concept. But for people getting married these days it’s incredibly common. There are so many photographers and wedding blogs promoting the idea of doing a first look that I want to add a dissenting opinion: seeing each other for the first time when walking down the aisle is incredibly meaningful, and while we were both nervous prior to the ceremony, I’m so, so glad we kept with tradition on this one.
Yes, it’s old fashioned, but hanging with my best friends all day, hearing tid bits of what Grace was up to from girls running between the two bridal suites, and not seeing her until our ceremony gave me butterflies like nothing else and was so much fun. Because we knew our nerves would be running high, Grace and I decided to exchange a few texts the morning of our wedding, telling each other how excited we were.
Having a huge wedding party also helped, and we both got lots of pep talks and shared excited jitters with our best friends.
After keeping my dress a secret for almost 9 months and not seeing Grace for about 16 hours before our ceremony, it was the most special thing in the world to walk down the aisle to her. I didn’t even notice our beautiful floral arch or “floating” white and green florals at the entrance to our aisle (you can see in the first photo in this post) until later, because I was so transfixed on Grace as soon as we locked eyes. Being able to finally hold hands and face each other was more joyful than I can ever describe. I know some wedding traditions are rooted in outdated ideas, but no matter the history, this one was beautiful.
Also just a reminder (this might be obvious) that just because you’re not a “traditional” bride-and-groom couple doesn’t mean you can’t claim traditions like this one as your own! I think part of the reason some prospective vendors were surprised at us waiting to see each other until our ceremony was precisely because we’re a gay couple. But I for one think there is nothing wrong with being old fashioned. You can look like a less traditional couple but still have an old fashioned love story, and I think that’s beautiful.
The one tricky thing about not doing a first look is that all of your wedding portraits as a couple have to be taken after the ceremony. But for us, as I’ll share in another post soon, having our wedding photographers whisk us away for some fun and beautiful sunset portraits together was one of my favorite parts of the night. I didn’t feel that not doing a first look hindered us at all in terms of getting amazing photos, but you do have to be sure to plan your whole day around the light. The sun didn’t set until almost 8pm on our wedding day, so we had a lot of time to take great pictures. If you’re having a fall or winter wedding, it’s a little more difficult, but I believe it’s still doable.
We had some prospective photographers doubt the ability to make our timeline happen without doing a first look, and our photographer’s willingness to go along with our vision was a big reason why we hired her. I encourage you to make it happen if waiting to see each other until walking down the aisle is something meaningful to you!