Today, we treat weddings like weird science. The moment that sparkly diamond comes in for a landing on the ring finger, we pull the wedding guides off the shelf, dust off our Pinterest inspiration-boards, and create a series of Excel spreadsheets and to-do lists. While some of those checklist items are practical and necessary (like answering the question: “Will there be food, and if so, what?”), other elements of wedding planning are not based on the weird scientific method, but rather deeply rooted in superstitious, mythical, and sometimes offensive historical customs.
One tradition that we take for granted today is the superstition that it is bad luck to see the bride on her wedding day. Now, we must ask ourselves: but why would it be bad luck to see the bride?
Imagine this: You’re an Elizabethan-era father who scraped together enough goats and cows to make a compelling dowry for your teenage daughter, and you’re this close to getting her married to the fella down the street. You’ve been negotiating with his family for months, and you’ve nearly got it in the bag. The last thing you would want is for the groom-to-be to catch a glimpse of your daughter the morning of the wedding and realize that—bless her heart—she’s an unattractive thing. Why, if he saw her before the very second she arrived at the altar, he might run, and now wouldn’t that be bad luck? Better to be safe than sorry—you have your daughter don a veil, too. Now there’s no way he can make a quick getaway as she walks down the aisle.
Western weddings used to be business transactions between two families; now, most of us would be hard-pressed not to marry for that one, most sacred, inscrutable, inexplicable reason: love. We trust that our beloved won’t balk on the wedding day, so deciding whether or not to see each other before the wedding is truly a matter of personal choice based on the mood-scape you hope to orchestrate.
For many modern couples who perhaps already live together and argue on the regular about picking up dirty socks off the bedroom floor, choosing not to see each other before the wedding can make the day feel more special. Lauren agrees: “My husband and I did not see each other until the ceremony,” she says. “It was probably the only ‘traditional’ aspect of our wedding. We already lived together, so we spent our last unmarried night away from each other to make our first married night together a little more special. We got ready in two different areas, and he didn’t even know what my dress looked like, so that was a pleasant surprise.”
Kayla found a deeper symbolism in waiting to see each other until that moment when she walks down the aisle: “Since our first four years of dating were long distance, the whole walking to meet him during the ceremony is a symbolic coming together in front of all our loved ones who always supported our relationship and often helped make the visits to see one another possible.”
Other couples take the exact opposite approach, spending the morning together. Some could say, “There is almost a ritual to the bathing, preening, and primping, and then dressing to eventually make a promise that will last a lifetime. It makes sense for some to spend the morning getting ready together because they are a calming influence for each other.” One could even say their Fiancé is their best friend! With the nerves and hugeness of a wedding day, there’s no one else they would want to spend that morning with.”
In fact, spending the morning preparing together can be just as, if not more, romantic than meeting one another at the altar. Maybe you’re a total romantic and love the idea of the first look for other people, but it just doesn’t fit with how you envisioned your day. How romantic would it be to get ready together? To wake up together, to have breakfast together, and to walk into let’s say city hall together?’ We wanted the day to be about us—for the full day.”
But not everyone is invested in setting a calming, or even romantic, tone for the morning. Some of us are party people. The math works out such that more hours together in the morning means more time for fun.
Another reason you both chose to get ready together could be because many of your bridal party are close mutual friends and since they live out of town and you rarely get to see them in person, much less altogether. You could turn the first part of the day into more of an intimate hang-out session than anything else. After a group outing you could have both bridal parties (including the male members) come together in the hotel suite for hair, makeup, adult coloring books, and mimosas!”
Some folks just aren’t interested in all the wedding hullabaloo, so keeping things low-key means low-stress. What if as an option you spent the day together with family just doing normal vacation stuff and running last-minute errands? The meaningful part of the day is actually the ceremony. You already know what each other looks like, so this idea isn’t really a big deal for some.”
Other couples choose to have breakfast together in the morning before going their separate ways to get ready for the wedding, and some coordinate a “first look,” or a private moment briefly before the ceremony when a couple can have the surprise of seeing each other all dolled up without the pressure of an audience. Personally, “I’m a huge supporter of first looks before the ceremony. It’s a bit more personal, and you don’t have 100+ sets of eyes staring you down during what can be a really emotional moment. I find that the reactions are much more sincere and tender when done in private beforehand. Plus, it helps to get all the nerves out of the way and gives the couple a bit of alone time before being mobbed the rest of the night.”
No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong. Because when your partner sees you on your wedding day, the only direction they’ll be running is to the altar!
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