Et Cetera: Here Comes the Bride

The modern “first look”

Greg Finck

The tradition of grooms not seeing brides before the ceremony originated in cultures where arranged marriages were customary. The same is true of the veil, which shields the bride’s face until vows are spoken. The general thinking was that the groom could not see the bride, change his mind, and shame the families. Once at the altar, it was too late. This practice evolved into a superstition in American culture that it is bad luck for bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony; however, times are changing.

On their wedding day this past May, Charlotte Collins and Marc McDonnell enjoyed a new tradition, the “first look.” Before they made their way to L’Hotel de Caumont to say their “I do’s,” they visited briefly on the grounds of the picturesque Villa Gallici (where most of their guests stayed), an experience that the bride said helped her relax for her big day.

The “first look” provides a chance not only for couples to allay each other’s anxieties, but also to stage photography pre-ceremony — before tears risk smudging the mascara and while the hair is still perfectly in place. Plus, the expression on a bride and groom’s faces when first seeing each other in wedding attire is priceless yet difficult to catch during a ceremony. In a relaxed, “first look” setting, photographers have the opportunity to capture shots of this intimate moment for the couple.