Wedding Season is in full swing and I won’t get another weekend off until I take vacation in July, so I thought I’d do a post about what I consider the biggest change I’ve seen in weddings over the last couple years, The Reveal. It’s quickly becoming the most popular new tradition for modern day couples who have realized they can bring home so much more from their wedding day experience, as well as their wedding day photography, by ignoring old superstitions and and taking advantage of all the benefits that come with seeing each other before the ceremony. Now I know this is quite the controversial subject for our southern area that’s normally so deeply routed in tradition. But that’s the thing about traditions, they change and update over the years. Old traditions give way to new traditions and the cycle continues. I started getting requests to do reveals over 2 years ago. It started with just a small few brides but now more than half of brides are requesting it. In many other areas outside the traditional deep south, it’s almost unheard of for brides to spend the day of their wedding hiding from the groom.
So why do bride’s hide from the groom in the first place? Let’s start with some background on how this whole tradition got started. If you’ve never heard this before, you might be a little shocked. Back in the days of arranged marriages, weddings were usually business transactions between the couple’s families. It was always in the father’s best interest to marry off his daughters, but what if his daughters weren’t blessed with naturally good looks? Or let’s just say, what if you couldn’t tell the difference between the bride to be, and a sasquatch? (Ok, that’s harsh… but then so is the way this whole tradition started in the first place.) If the bride’s father needed to marry off his daughter for financial reasons and he knew she was a bit challenged in the “beauty” department, then how would he find a wealthy man willing to marry her? Easy, the bride and groom were not allowed to meet each other until the wedding day. On top of that, throw a veil over her face and the groom can’t even see his bride while they make their vows to each other. Only after they were married would the groom be allowed the lift the veil to see his new wife’s face for the first time. So women were hidden not only during the engagement, but also behind a veil at the wedding, for fear that they might not be beautiful enough to marry off. Not the most positive background for such a long lasting tradition, wouldn’t you say? Even after arranged marriages became the way of yesterday, the bride continued to hide from the groom.
Today, the tradition isn’t about meeting the bride for the first time, it’s about seeing the bride in her dress for the first time. So the groom waits at the end of the aisle, waiting to see the woman he loves, dressed as a bride. It is a beautiful moment, but it doesn’t have to be captured in the aisle to be a beautiful moment. In fact, remove it from the aisle and suddenly this moment takes on a new life of it’s own. Couples are now doing what’s called a Reveal. The groom waits, with ever so much anticipation, as his bride begins to approach him and he finally see’s her all dressed up as his bride. It’s almost exactly the same as the aisle moment, only it takes place before the ceremony, and usually in private, which makes it much more likely to be an emotional moment for the couple. Since they are not at the ceremony yet, they have time to react and communicate with each other during this incredibly special moment. After spending a few minutes together, kissing, crying, and sometimes exchanging gifts, they then get to take advantage of some of the benefits that come along with seeing each other before the ceremony.
Elizabeth and Ryan, during their emotional Reveal in Dec ’11. Upon seeing each other for the first time, Ryan was floored and they both erupted in tears.
After a few minutes of crying, kissing and laughing, he suddenly turns to the camera to show that he was “double” prepared for the moment! It’s hard for me to keep a dry eye looking back at these images.
Besides the Reveal, which itself is an amazing thing to experience, here are some other advantages that come along with it:
1.) You have time for Creative Portraits. Most ceremonies are at night, but if we do a reveal before the ceremony while the sun is still out, we get to take advantage of all that beautiful natural light and shoot some amazing portraits the couple will cherish forever. Couples who don’t see each other until the ceremony, miss the chance to take incredible portraits together, because it’s usually very dark outside and because they need to rush off to their reception so they don’t keep their guests waiting.
2.) Getting the formals out of the way is a HUGE bonus! Think about it, everyone is all freshly made up, and no smeary makeup on mom from crying during the ceremony. The sun is out so we can take them outdoors in the sunlight with beautiful backgrounds and soft flattering natural light. Anticipation and excitement is still very very high at this point, so the expressions and smiles are usually much more authentic.
3.) You’ll get to your reception faster! Since the formals are all out of the way, after the ceremony you’ll be able to head strait to your reception and get that party started! No waiting around, chasing down wedding party members who disappeared after the ceremony because they had to use the restroom, or make a phone call. You and the wedding party are free from having to pose for the camera and your guests don’t have to sit around wondering when you’ll arive. Everyone is happy!
4.) You’ll probably enjoy your ceremony more. Nerves are extremely high the morning of the wedding, for both the bride and the groom. If you stay in that state all the way into the ceremony, it will stay with you during the entire thing. You finally see each other for the first time on your wedding day, and you can’t hug, you can’t kiss, you can’t talk or say I love you. You only have a chance to glance at each other for a brief second before spending the next hour participating in your wedding ceremony while thinking of all the things you want to say, but can’t. Then the next thing you know, your posing for formals, running off to your reception, doing your first dance, cutting your cake, and it’s only after your halfway through your reception that you might (MIGHT) find a moment to yourselves to finally say what’s on your mind and take it all in. I’ve had many couples tell me how it’s all such a whirlwind, and that they barely saw each other or spent time together during their own wedding. Now compare that to those who decide to do a reveal. They see each other and hour or two before the ceremony, and those nerves just melt away into euphoria. They are now calm, content, and just the happiest people on earth. They spend the next hour or two together alone, away from all the madness, taking beautiful portraits and telling each other how happy they are. They hug, they cry, they laugh, they kiss, they tell each other how beautiful they look. They are relaxed. They are calm. There is no where else they would rather be, than right there, in that moment. It’s a moment they will always remember. For many, it’s their favorite moment during their entire wedding. Then they go to their ceremony in this calm, but incredibly happy state, and they are able to sit there together for that hour, and just take it all in.
The number one thing I’m told by couples who choose to do the reveal, is that they are positive they wouldn’t have been able to enjoy themselves as much during the ceremony if they had not done the reveal, and brought all that nervousness in the church with them. That alone is a gigantic plus for doing a reveal. Add to that all the incredible portraits you gain, and the convinience of getting the formals out of the way early, and you can see why for most couples these days it’s a no brainer!
So now you know just why more and more couples are choosing to make The Reveal their new wedding tradition, and why they love it so much! There are still many couples who choose not to see each other before, and that’s ok! Which one should you do? The one that is true to your heart. If the only reason you plan to hide from each other is because you’ve heard it’s bad luck, then you may want to reconsider. But if the reason is deeper than that, if you WANT to wait to let your reaction be witnessed by your guests, then go for it! Remember, it’s YOUR wedding, so do what YOU want!