History Of Wedding Traditions: Not Seeing The Bride Before Ceremony

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Dubsdread Catering Event Specialist Peighton Ballant shares the history behind the wedding tradition of not seeing the bride before until the wedding ceremony.Peighton Ballant headshot

Wedding traditions that are popular today almost always originate from some long ago custom, and this includes the tradition of not seeing the bride until the wedding ceremony. While some couples today opt to do a first look instead of waiting until the ceremony, there are many couples who consider it bad luck and are keeping the tradition strong even today, but with a few modern touches.


You may be thinking of it as a romantic gesture, but as with many wedding traditions, it is anything but. The tradition began back when arranged marriages were more common than not, as they were considered a business deal between two families for property, financial, and protective reasons. During this time, the couple was not allowed to see each other before the wedding at all, not just the day of or the night before. Back then, the fathers-of-the bride worried that if the soon-to-be husband saw her before the wedding and didn’t find her attractive, he might call off the wedding. This also happens to be where the history of a veil for brides originates from. Unlike today’s decorative styles, the veils of olden days were made so the groom could not see the bride’s face until after the ceremony. Once the groom was instructed to kiss his bride, he was then allowed to lift the veil to reveal her, making it too late to back out from the family’s agreements.


Nowadays, we have new ideas that are quickly becoming new traditions. First look photos are a perfect example of a newer idea that has quickly become a popular addition to the pre-ceremony part of the wedding celebration. First look photos are when the bride and groom are given a private moment together before the ceremony, and before they present themselves to their friends and family, to see each other first in those moments before. Photographers often have unique and beautiful ways to set-up and capture these intimate moments. One technique is to the groom facing away from the bride as she walks in, then waits for him to turn around so they can see each other in their full wedding attire. Often the first look photo is the one that perfectly encapsulates the bond, the love, and the gleam in your partners eye when they see you up close and without an audience, making for the perfect, unforgettable photo. Plus, doing your first look photos before the ceremony is also an efficient way to get as many photos taken before the ceremony as you can, so you have more time to celebrate with your friends and family.


Though it has become more popular, first look photos aren’t a full-on tradition yet, and there are still plenty of couples who chose not to do this. One thing I recommend to my clients during the planning process is that if they don’t want to do a first look photo, they can still create that intimate “us only” feel before the ceremony. Writing a personal note to each other to be given before you take your places at the ends of the aisle, is a lovely way to express yourselves to just each other. You can also choose to stand on opposite sides of the same wall or have a door in-between while you read the letters to each other. Or simply exchange them prior to que-ing up for the ceremony. Your photographer will work with you to capture these personal moments no matter how you decide to proceed.

No matter how you choose to see, or not see, your spouse-to-be before your wedding, it is a personal choice how to add a special, more intimate moment to feel closer with the one you’re about to spend the rest of your life with during a very busy day.

Thankfully this is another old tradition that has turned into something much more romantic than when it originated. And of course, with any tradition that you choose to add to your wedding event, determine what works best for you and your partner, and how to tailor it to make it special for just the two of you … nothing else is needed!

When it’s time to plan your wedding and reception, our experienced team at Dubsdread Catering works with you every step of the process and will share our tips for making every part of your event special to you and your partner.

Peighton Ballant is an Event Specialist with the Dubsdread Catering Team and is currently working on her Event Management degree at UCF. Peighton enjoys working with prospective couples to discover what they are most interested in bringing to their special day, and how to make those ideas come to life. Contact her today at events@historicdubsdread.comWedding History Dubsdread 3Wedding History Dubsdread 5

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