By Erica Hendrix
Tradition states that the bride and groom can’t see each other before the ceremony because it is considered bad luck, but many couples are straying away from this tradition for several reasons.
Blake and Cassie Usry were recently married at a wedding venue near Athens, Georgia, The Barn at Crooked Pine Farm, and they chose to have a first look before their wedding ceremony. Although a first look has several advantages and disadvantages, they both strongly enjoyed the idea of seeing each other before the ceremony, and believe that it was very fitting for them.
I asked Cassie and Blake their thoughts and feelings about their first look, and why they chose the non-traditional idea of seeing each other before the wedding. In her own words, Cassie says, “The decision to do a first look didn’t come easy at first. I’d been dreaming of my wedding day for as long as I can remember and I struggled with, “do I let him see me beforehand and possibly not have that “moment” when I walk down the aisle, or do we wait and let walking down the aisle be the first time we see each other, have a “moment,” yet we won’t have any time for just us two…?”
“Ultimately the decision was made to do a first look. I didn’t want the first time we saw each other to be at the altar. I wanted us to truly be able to look at each other, take it all in, laugh, cry, talk, and just have those moments of us before we said ‘I do’. From seeing the pictures of our first look, I absolutely know the right decision was made. If Blake saw me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle, I don’t think he would have had the same reaction because he would have tried to be tough and hold it all in, but even if he would have had the same reaction, I would have gotten to the end of the aisle and that would’ve been it.”
The bride felt that the first look gave them personal time together and they were able to express their emotions privately. Many people are concerned that if they see their significant other before they walk down the aisle during the ceremony, it won’t be as special. Cassie clarified, “A first look truly doesn’t take away from anything.” For Blake, he liked the idea of seeing his soon-to-be bride before the wedding because, “being by ourselves allowed me to get all of my emotions out of the way so that I could devote all of my attention on her.”
After reading what the bride and groom had to say about their first look, I began to think and list out the advantages and disadvantages of the idea.
A few advantages:
1. The pictures! Cassie wrote, “If pictures are really important to you, and all you really want is to savor every second of that day and have those moments with your hubby, then a first look is the way to go!” The bride and groom both confirm that most of the pictures can be done before the wedding so that guests aren’t waiting after the ceremony, and they aren’t being rushed during the photo-taking process.
Blane Marable, a wedding photographer in Athens, photographed Blake and Cassie on their special day. He added, “The choice for Cassie and Blake to see each other before the wedding was very special to witness and capture with my camera. It allowed them to have private alone time before the ceremony to take several photos that I would not have been able to get during the wedding. It also allowed more time for the wedding party to get photos with the bride and groom instead of squeezing them into a few minutes before the reception began.”
2. A first look allows the bride and groom to release all the nerves and emotions before the wedding begins. Blake says, “I couldn’t imagine crying in front of everyone. It gave me a minute to catch my breath and take it all in.”
3. The bride’s hair and make-up are still fresh! This is a very important advantage to all brides, because they will be more confidently prepared for pictures since tears haven’t smeared the make-up yet, and the curls haven’t fallen.
I asked Athens, Georgia photographer, Amanda Seawright, her thoughts on a first look and why she enjoys doing them as a photographer. She feels that your wedding day is one of the most special and significant days of your life, and that there are so many memories to capture on this day! “First Looks are a wonderful way to not only get great pictures of the bride and groom during their wedding day, but it is also a moment full of emotion and love between the bride and groom. I love when bride’s choose to do a First Look before the ceremony! I always encourage them to make this moment special and only between the two of them, and well, I will be there as the photographer.”
The largest disadvantage is that it simply breaks tradition. Although there only seems to be one con going against all of the pros, it is very difficult to make this decision for many couples. Additionally, part of the big day includes the anticipation of everyone seeing you for the first time as you walk down the aisle. It is best to discuss this before your big day to decide what you and your groom would like, and what makes sense to you both.
Amanda adds, “The brides that choose this are always so glad they did, even if it “breaks tradition” because you don’t really have time to talk and enjoy each other during the ceremony or until the reception is over. I also suggest doing a first look with the bride and her father and even the groom and his mother, because it just adds more special memories for everyone.”
Ultimately, first looks are very special, whether it is before the wedding, or right when you’re about to walk down the aisle. If pictures are important to you, then choosing the idea of a first look can be very ideal. Blake and Cassie’s story is beautiful, just like the pictures from their special moment. They both agree that they made the right decision because they were able to capture great emotions, take in the precious time with each other, and release the tension and nerves before they said “I do.”
Erica Hendrix is a sophomore at the University of Georgia majoring in Public Relations and pursuing a minor in Sociology. Her interests include writing, music, friends, shopping, and Georgia football.
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