The First Look – Must it be at the Alter ?

Weddings are all about tradition. The white dress, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. And never may the bride and groom see each other before the wedding.

In some cultures it is traditional for the bride and groom to not even meet .. at all before they meet at the alter.

Like this case;  I recently photographed a man from India (here at my studio near Boston MA) who was looking for a wife. The process as he explained it was much like the dating sites we have here in the states. He puts his pictures (and family background, work and financial information) on a site and the Parents (of his potential bride) look through this site for the perfect man for their Daughter to marry.   I’m guessing that the girls are also looking through the site and bookmarking their favorites. Easing the tradition a bit!

I agree that  waiting until that magical moment when the doors to the church open, a beautiful angelic glow washes over the bride as she walks down the aisle .. seeing the eyes of her groom fill with tears of love and joy as he first sees his bride in that wedding dress does produce some pretty darned epic images.

But to be candid,  it is at that moment when for the couple their love and commitment becomes real. And what they’d like to say to each other , at that moment, a milestone in their lives together which will never – ever be experienced again can’t be said because  they are standing in front of family, friends, co-workers, the clergy and some guy they hired to sing an aria.

It’s still epic, don’t get me wrong.

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I always propose an alternative. When the couple meet some where secluded,  15 minutes before the ceremony begins for a “first look” . The bride walks up behind the groom, taps him on the shoulder, he turns and sees his bride for the first time in her dress, her perfect makeup and hair and she sees her groom. They share a moment, a dance, a laugh, a kiss, quiet conversation. All the things that most won’t do standing at the alter in front of the masses. It is epic and it is magical every time.

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Does a first look ruin everything? The beautiful scene as the doors to the church open and that angel walks down the aisle?  The tears of joy in the eyes of the bride, her Dad, their family and friends  and in the groom ? The beautiful moment when the Dad presents his Daughter to the groom ? The moment when the bride and groom hold hands at the alter ? Not as far I’ve seen – I believe that it makes the ceremony better, But that’s just me.

It is key that the first look be known to very few people … it’s just the bride, the groom and their photographer … with a zoom lens. You see, my job is to capture the moments which can never be recreated, never repeated so that my clients can have them to enjoy for generations to come.

Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

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