From the exchanging of vows to the cutting of the cake, every wedding has its share of unforgettable moments. There’s the first kiss, first dance, and, of course, the very first time the bride and groom see one another on their wedding day.
Traditionally, it’s a moment that has been largely reserved for the church aisle when standing in front of friends and family, the groom catches the first glimpse of his breathtaking bride and on the arm of her father or parents, she sees her tuxedoed suitor waiting at the altar.
[Lead Photo: Simply K Studios]
And while plenty of first looks still happen that way, an increasing number of couples are choosing to forsake the custom in favor of sharing that special moment before the wedding and in a much more intimate fashion.
“It’s a private moment between the bride and the groom,” said photographer Kelly Myers of Simply K Studios in Wethersfield. “It’s special for the two of them and we don’t orchestrate them, we just document their emotions.”
As part of a growing trend, couples are opting to take their photographs before the wedding instead of waiting until after. That way, according to Myers, they have more time to participate in the celebration and be with their guests. “A lot of our couples want to go to cocktail hour and this actually frees up time to do that,” she said.
Taking photographs in advance also allows the couple to see each other for the first time without their guests there to observe. And with the exception of a photographer on hand to capture it, they are provided with a few quiet minutes together before the day’s events get underway.
“They have a moment to talk to each other, to get the giddiness out, hug, maybe kiss, and get out the we-are-about-to-get-married excitement,” said Myers.
It’s a moment that is joyful and sometimes reduces couples to tears, she said. And though Myers photographs 40 to 50 weddings a year, she said that first looks often give her goose bumps.
“It’s probably the most sincere moment of the day,” she explained. “It’s just the two of them and we are in the background. Of course the ceremony is beautiful and emotional, but [the first look] is a wonderful time to really capture the love.”
Manchester resident and wedding planner Lisa DiBenedetto and her husband were married in October and chose to have their photographs taken before the ceremony, along with their first look.
“I really feel like it was the most special, intimate moment someone can have,” she said. “We really weren’t alone for the rest of the day, so it was great to have that moment to look into each other’s eyes and say, ‘This is it. This is our time.’ ”
DiBenedetto said she gets choked up looking at the pictures because they bring her back to the instant they saw each other that first time. “To see the emotions without everyone else around was amazing.” And she said that it also gave them the chance to express their true feelings to one another before saying their vows in front of everyone else. “At the end of the day, we have that moment together.”
Getting the first look out of the way before the wedding can also help reduce the jitters and allow couples to feel more relaxed during the ceremony, said photographer Catherine Kiernan of Kiernan Photography in Guilford.
“They are less nervous and can take in the situation because they’ve already seen each other for the first time,” she said. “It helps make the day a lot less stressful.”
And, she said, it helps the bride and the groom feel more grounded. “They lock hands, take the pictures and the day has started.”
Like Myers, Kiernan also said that taking the photographs first allows couples and their families to enjoy the wedding celebration immediately following the ceremony and gives them more time to mingle with their guests instead of having to rush off to take the pictures.
But despite the rising popularity of first looks and taking photos before the wedding, there are still many couples who prefer to stick with the traditional custom of not seeing each other until the ceremony.
“A lot of grooms don’t want to see the bride before she walks down the aisle and feel like it’s a shortcut,” Kiernan said.
Although every couple is different and should do what feels right for them, she believes that doing the photos first can be beneficial. “If anything I think it adds something. You have that private moment together and it makes it more special and makes your wedding day a little longer because it goes by so quickly.”
It was the right choice for her wedding, DiBenedetto said. “To have that moment that was about us and not everybody else was such a good thing to do for some many reasons. And it’s captured forever.”