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The before-the-ceremony wedding trend that has turned tradition upside down

The before-the-ceremony wedding trend that has turned tradition upside down

Weddings are about tradition. But they are also about trends - an evolving ritual that changes with the values, customs and habits of each new generation. Having your photos taken before the ceremony is one such trend gaining a cult following in weddings across the globe. Here we explore how this wedding phenomenon is turning tradition upside down and may just be a wedding evolution that is here to stay.

wedding photos

A time-honoured tradition in the new age

The tradition of a groom not seeing his bride until the ceremony originates from the custom of arranged marriages - where virgins were sold to the highest bidder in exchange for cows and other productive livestock. Not letting a groom see his bride until after the marriage vows were made (with veils used as a further delaying tactic), was a way to keep him from deciding she wasn't worth the price and backing out of the deal! As such, many couples are arguing this antiquated ritual is no longer necessary in modern-day wedding etiquette, and are choosing to get the formality of wedding photos out of the way before the wedding ceremony, so they can relax and enjoy the celebrations with their loved ones.

First-look photos

Already popular across Europe, first-look photos are a popular component of the before-the-ceremony trend. While tradition dictates that the first time a groom will see his bride is when she's walking down the aisle, many couples are choosing to see each other for the first time in a more intimate setting - a way to expel nerves and fully focus on one another. This element involves meeting in private once both bride and groom are wedding-ready, with only the photographer on hand to capture this special moment between the couple.

wedding photos

Advantages of before-the-ceremony photos

Like every decision a couple will make about their wedding day, it's important to consider the pros and cons to determine whether it is right for you. Advantages include:

  • Individually orchestrated
    You can plan your first-look photos in any way that suits you. There is still the option to have your Dad 'give you away' to your groom, if that's important to you, or plan a creative way to 'reveal' yourself to one another that will make for great images.
  • Raw emotion
    While some grooms may try to keep a brave face in front of the crowds, seeing his bride in a more intimate setting allows him to clearly express how he really feels.
  • Linger in the moment
    Seeing one another before the ceremony allows you to share this special time together, without being rushed to return as quickly as possible to the wedding festivities.
  • Improved images
    Many photographers prefer before-the-ceremony photos, as they can capture first-looks without the restrictions or protocols a traditional ceremony dictates.
  • Increased confidence walking down the aisle
    Revealing yourself to your groom before walking down the aisle helps many brides ease the tension of this part of their wedding ceremony , allowing them to actually relax and enjoy the moment.
  • Fresh wedding photos
    Forget mascara-stained cheeks and limp locks, having your photos taken before your ceremony means that you will be at your most fresh , with your hair and makeup in its prime.
  • Your guests will thank you
    Rather than leaving your guests to make their way through your entire bar tab before you return, you'll be able to kick-start the celebrations straight after the ceremony - setting a mood of fun and festivity for your entire reception. 

wedding day

Disadvantages of before-the-ceremony photos
Let's play Devil's Advocate and look at the downside of before-the-ceremony photos so every couple can make an informed decision. Disadvantages include:
  • Down the aisle dream
    Some brides have dreamt about the moment their soon-to-be husband first sees them walking down the aisle. If this is you and you can't imagine doing it any other way, stick to your guns and savour your moment.
  • Touchups required
    Depending on how and where you have your photos taken, there is a risk you may get your dress dirty or disheveled prior to your ceremony. Also, be prepared to undergo hair and makeup adjustments following your photos to keep you looking your best.
  • Not legally married
    Some couples don't like the idea that they won't be legally married when they have their wedding photos taken. You will also need to consider whether you want to wear your wedding bands in your portraits or save them until the ceremony.
  • Bad luck to break tradition
    Usually the response of well-meaning relatives and friends, some of those closest to you may also want to share in the moment of a couple seeing one another for the first time. How much this matters is completely up to you.

Before-the-wedding photos - an individual decision

Like all decisions about your wedding day, only you as couple can decide what's right. Whether you embrace this trend or stick with tradition will be based on your individual personalities, preferences and unique wedding details. In the meantime, every other detail to make your wedding day exclusively yours can be found at