Do photos before ceremony?

Addresses the Pro/Con of the Bride and Groom seeing each other before the wedding?

 

To See, or Not To See…

Make It a Private Party.
By Peter Paul Rubens
(as published in Professional Photographer magazine)

Nearly every bridal couple faces the decision of scheduling their formal/organized wedding photography before or after the ceremony. Implicit in the question is whether or not the couple should see each other before the ceremony. While both approaches have pros and cons, most brides are voting for practicality.

More than 15 years ago, most weddings had the group compositions photographed after the wedding or in a fashion called “split formals.” This method allowed photographers to take as many images as possible without the bride and groom seeing each other before the vows, then completing the session after the ceremony. While split-formals reduced the time guests had to wait, they hardly eliminated it.

Today, very few bridal couples have all of their formals photographed after the wedding, and more than 80 percent of West Coast couples elect to have all their group photography completed prior to the ceremony. Newlyweds are electing not to miss any part of the festivities for photographic sessions. After all, this is usually the biggest party of their lives!

Savoring the Anticipation
But what about savoring the anticipation that is part of not seeing your betrothed before the wedding? Consider an idea that many photographers call “private time” or “special moments.” Set the stage in the sanctuary or any place of your choosing, for the bride to meet the groom prior to the ceremony and the photo session. Post groomsmen at all the entrances, allowing no one to enter.

Everything is just right before the wedding: the flowers are at their peak; hair and makeup is fine-tuned; the kids are still clean; and there’s an air of anticipation.

After the wedding, things are different: people hug and flowers become the in-between casualty; if there are tears makeup can run; hair goes awry; and lipstick has a certain way of migrating to faces, shirts, and dresses. In short, everything has a more disheveled look. Fine for those candids everybody loves to look at, but not for the mantelpiece of a couple’s living room.

After the ceremony, the couple comes down the aisle for hugs and kisses from friends and relatives. It’s a missed opportunity to interrupt this intense, joyous moment for group portraits.

There is so much going on after the vows! Women head out to reapply makeup and adjust dresses. Family and wedding party members are scattered, conversing, getting a drink, and attending to their own agendas. Group pictures take longer to assemble. Guests become anxious, because they’re eager to meet and greet the couple & family – and it becomes evident in their expressions.

Logistically, split formals take more time, because you have to call up the same group twice – once before and once after the ceremony. Also, before the ceremony time is wasted in transition – to keep the men and women separate as the bride’s entourage disappears and the groom and crew come out of hiding.

There is less stress on everybody. The bride knows two hours ahead of time that everyone is here, and all is done. No matter what may go wrong, she has bought two hours of insurance. She is relaxed and this sets the stage creating the mood for the entire wedding. The Photo Time before the ceremony becomes a private, “invitation only” warm-up to the big event, and it’s with all the people most important to the couple.

But what about the grand entrance to the ceremony? Won’t this nouveau notion kill the thrill, relegating it to an anti-climatic afterthought? Hardly. Nothing can steal the thunder of the moment . . as the music sounds its call . . when the stunning bride dramatically appears at the chapel doorway. All rise in her honor as she elegantly glides down the aisle to join her handsome groom. Amidst the power of the moment, the beautiful vision many brides dream about remains intact.

In contrast, many brides who wait until the ceremony to see their groom for the first time are on sensory overload. Stage fright is rampant, and in the reign of formality when she arrives at the altar, he can’t kiss her, tell her how beautiful she is, or give her a reassuring hug.

In the dozen years that I have conducted formal wedding sessions before the ceremony, I have never heard of anyone regretting it. How many wedding tips are that solid? Scheduling the photographs before the wedding isn’t just a good suggestion, it’s a valuable investment tip to maximize time and optimize your couples’ experience on “their day.” It makes a difference not only in the photographs, but in the whole wedding experience. It’s been said that hindsight is 20/20; here’s a chance to include a bit of high-quality hindsight into your foresight.

 

Note from PPR:  While the above article talks about the advantages I see to doing  the organized photography before the wedding, first and foremost I am at the service of the Bride and Groom and their preferences.  If the clear preference is to not see each other before the wedding – no problem!  I am pleased to support your vision.  It is your Day.

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