Expert Excerpt: Brian McGarry


If you’re debating seeing each other before the ceremony for pictures, let me give you a few reasons why it’s the right thing to do.


Where did the tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other come from?  Long ago, it was customary for the bride and groom to walk together to the church.  After that, a superstition began that stated that it was bad luck if the bride were to see the groom (or anyone else for that matter) the day of the ceremony.  Some thought that the bride was in a transitional stage in life, and therefore vulnerable and fraught with potential danger as she was consumed in uncertainty! It’s gotten to the point that the groom isn’t even supposed to see the bride’s gown before the wedding day.So we stick to a custom that preserves the special moment of seeing each other for the first time. 


But wouldn’t it be better to embrace and express yourselves in a quiet, secluded location before the wedding?mcgarry-photo-2


Brides want photographers to capture the groom’s reaction as she walks down the aisle and he gets his first glimpse of her.  Invariably, we get a picture of a groom, with hands crossed, in what I refer to as the “fig leaf” pose.  Sometimes he’s staring blankly with a “deer-in-the-headlight” look.  Other times, he’s staring into the camera!  Most of the time, it isn’t such a “Wow!”-type reaction.


I get better reactions when the bride and groom see each other BEFORE the wedding. 

The timing works better.  The pictures are better.  The emotion is closer and more expressive.  The tension gets released before the commotion begins.  That’s when great pictures are taken.mcgarry-photo-4



The moment should be between the bride and groom.  The reaction to each other should be personal.  But it’s more difficult to do so in public.  When we take pictures before the wedding, we set up a “reveal” in which the groom is hidden from view as the bride exits the limo.  The videographer and I are there, at a distance, to capture the first embrace and kiss of the day. 


After that, we are able to take pictures in a relaxed manner, without the pressure of having to get to the reception for the cocktail hour.  It’s more leisurely and comfortable for everyone involved.  If there are a few pictures that we don’t get to, we can take a few minutes just after the ceremony.mcgarry-photo-3





















It has been my experience that I take more pictures if I can photograph the bride and groom before the ceremony.  Everyone’s demeanor is more relaxed.  There is more flexibility in the timing because you do not have to worry about taking 30-45 minutes of pictures after the ceremony in the church.  You are able to enjoy more of your cocktail hour while visiting with your guests.


So throw away your superstitions and embrace your fiancé the first time you see him on your wedding.  Go ahead.  Get the most out of your special wedding day!



Brian McGarry, Photographer

All images in this post are the property of Brian McGarry

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