While tradition dictates that a bride and groom should not see each other before the ceremony, there are many benefits to challenging this convention. By posing for photographs beforehand, you and your new spouse are free to join your reception directly after saying, “I Do.” You won’t miss out on the precious time you can spend with your guests, and you may feel much more relaxed before making your grand entrance. Brides who are typically nervous feel a sense of calm after seeing their grooms, and grooms usually find the overwhelming feeling of seeing their bride walk down the aisle remains unchanged.
You and your fiancé should discuss whether it makes sense to see each other before the ceremony; it is not uncommon for couples who wait until after they are married to take photographs to be slightly impatient once the ceremony is over. It’s easy to get frustrated and distracted when you and your family members want to move onto the party.
About Four Hours Before: When the bride and groom agree to see each other, it is best to begin pictures around four hours prior to the ceremony or cocktail hour, whichever comes first. If the ceremony is scheduled for six in the evening, your photographer should plan to arrive around quarter-past two, so that he can document your preparations. During this time, candid images are taken of the bride and groom without interfering with hair and makeup artists.
Three Hours Before: The only two people that need to be ready are the bride and groom. Most couples prefer to see each other for the first time privately—without family, friends and bridal party. It is one of the most significant moments of your wedding day and should be captured as such. Your photographer will assist you in finding a private spot on the grounds to stage your “first look” at one another. Then, he will send for your groom and let emotion take its course. The photographer’s job is to capture your candid, natural reaction—his face as he sees you and your face as you see him. It’s a moment that is difficult to duplicate when you are at opposite ends of a long aisle.
A leisurely opportunity then exists to walk around the property and to use locations that might not be available after the ceremony. Since the light changes throughout the day, some locations may offer unflattering lighting (or no light at all) later in the day.
Two Hours: Before Request that your immediate family and the wedding party be ready at this time. Your photographer will use this time to shoot each side of the family and the bridal party. These shots will include the bride with her mother, father, siblings, other immediate family members, her bridesmaids individually and all together. The same is also done for the groom’s side.
One Hour Before: Request that all extended family you want included in the group shots arrive at this time. Most couples want to include grand- parents, spouses of brothers and sisters and their children, and often aunts, uncles and cousins. If you want shots with sorority sisters or special friends, they should also be included at this time. Once your photographer has completed these pictures, it allows him the time to shoot the event details and décor that you’ve worked so hard to create.
Use your photographer’s time and creativity to the fullest. Your photographs will most certainly benefit.