The look on the groom’s face the moment the bride begins to walk down the aisle is our favorite part of a wedding. This singular moment is known to bring huge, grown men to mush in an instant.
In a traditional wedding, it’s customary for the bride and groom to not see each other the day of the event. Some think it’s bad luck, others like the element of surprise. In recent posts, we’ve explored the history of white wedding dresses and the origin of bridesmaids. Like those aspects of the wedding, there is also a history behind the first look tradition. However, it’s not at all romantic.
Centuries ago, fathers would build a dowry with money, household items, livestock and whatever else of value that would sweeten the deal for their daughter’s hands in marriage. Arranged marriages were the norm and families wanted to make sure their daughters were married to wealthy men from good families, with no snags in the plan. In order to ensure this, the bride and groom were not permitted to see each other until they met at the altar.
Essentially, it was to guarantee that they had to go through with the marriage and the groom couldn’t back out if he, for example, wasn’t happy with certain appearances. What could be more romantic, right?
This is also where the tradition of the bride wearing a veil came into play. The veil was meant to cover the bride’s face until the very last moment.
Despite, or perhaps in spite of, its practical origins, the first look tradition has transformed into something romantic. Brides and grooms wait for that moment when they see their intended for the first time in their wedding day best, waiting for them at the end of the aisle.
This has morphed into a special moment for the couple, without the glaring eyes of everyone invited. They arrange for a first look before the ceremony — complete with photographer — which has the same appeal and emotion as waiting to see one another for the walk down the aisle, but with added privacy, stellar photographs and the chance for the couple to be alone for a moment before seeing all of their guests.
A version of this post was originally published in January 2018.