Yes, you and your partner can get ready together on wedding day.
Here are 5 reasons why you should.
A young man stands at the altar, butterflies in his stomach, heart in his throat. As the organist plays the first stirring notes of “Here Comes the Bride,” the congregants rise and stare expectantly towards the back of the church. Suddenly, the heavy oak doors open and the groom catches the first glimpse of his bride: radiant, beautiful, virginal. Her long white satin train trails behind her, and she is cloaked in so many veiled layers of ivory tulle that he can barely make out the features of her face. The groom sheds a single tear, a male tear, the rarest and most precious tear of all.
We’ve internalized these outdated, sexist definitions of “wedding” and “bride,” and chief among them is the archaic idea that under no circumstances may the bride and groom (because all weddings are straight weddings, right?) see one another before the ceremony.
I’ve always found this “hide the bride” convention to be absurd; the groom must not see her, but even guests (and sometimes her own family) are not permitted to see her either. What about people seeing the groom? Hell, he shits, showers, and shaves, pulls on a rented suit, and wanders around greeting early guests and laughing with his boys, free from the pressure of remaining cloistered away like an oil painting of My Last Duchess concealed from the world’s prying eyes behind heavy velvet drapes.
Where does this "hide the bride" practice come from?
There are many speculations about the origin of this superstition. Some cultures believed it was bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony (one particularly strange superstition from English folklore even considers it bad luck for the bride to look at herself in a mirror after putting on her dress!). Others argue that the tradition originated in cultures and time periods when arranged marriages were the norm, and the bride’s family had a vested interest in preventing the groom from calling off the marriage based on a bride’s appearance. Whatever the reason, we can all agree that the tradition of hiding the bride stems from a time of unscientific superstition and gender inequality.
Now that we've covered the history, let's get back to planning your wedding in the here and now:
Here are 5 reasons to get ready together on wedding day:
1) Getting ready together makes for great candid photos.
Picture this: You zip up your partner’s dress, careful not to pinch their skin, before planting a sweet kiss on the back of their shoulder; You try (in vain) to tie your partner’s tie, while they hold up their phone playing a YouTube tutorial to guide you, both of you laughing the whole way through; Your partner pins on your boutonniere…sure, they accidentally stab you once or twice with the pins, but you’re quick to quip “It’s only a flesh-wound!”, and before you know it, you’re quoting each other’s favorite lines from Monty Python.
Candid documentary wedding photography is about capturing real moments, and few moments are as real as the bundle of nerves / excitement / emotion that you’ll feel while getting ready for your wedding day. Don’t you want to share those moments with your favorite human? And don’t you want photographs of you both navigating those moments together?
2) Getting ready together saves money.
Most couples getting ready separately have to spend money to make it work: one or both partners rent(s) a hotel room, usually starting from the night before. Renting hotel rooms, rather than getting ready at home together in your apartment, is an unnecessary cost on an already-costly day. This is doubly true if you splurge for a higher-end hotel with nicer looking rooms.
Alternatively, you and your partner could get ready separately at your venue, but this assumes that your venue has at least two private suites. If your venue is more of a blank slate, budget-friendly option (like a community center, hall, historic building, or farmhouse, etc.), the location may not have two or even one such suite. Only higher-end venues (and generic “wedding factories” ) have private suites for both partners, and sadly these amenities are usually highly-gendered in both nomenclature and decor. Straight and LGBTQIA+ partners alike will find themselves relegated either to the venue’s generic “bridal suite” with its crystal chandeliers, white furnishings, and Live Laugh Love signage, or the “groom’s room”, usually a dark bar filled with reclaimed wood and brown leather couches, prop kegs of whiskey, and mirrored wall paneling.
So whether you pay to rent hotel rooms, or to book a venue with suites, not only will you be separated from your partner, you’ll be trapped in a room with generic gendered decor wholly unrelated to you, your personal style, or the vibe of your day…all while paying a premium for the privilege.
3) Getting ready together saves time.
When partners choose to get ready separately, this decision necessitates extra time and creates complexity in the wedding day schedule. Let’s say you book two rooms at the same hotel. In doing so, you now need to allot extra time (and again, time = money) for the limo / party bus / transportation to take Partner A from the hotel to the ceremony location, drop them off, turn around and drive back to the hotel, pick up Partner B, and drive back to the ceremony location again. Suddenly, you’ve introduced chaos and unpredictability: What about traffic? What if one of the partners is not ready yet and throws off the timeline for transporting the other? What if the limo breaks down, stranding one partner at the ceremony location, while the other is stuck at the hotel? Talk about getting “left at the altar”!
And this scenario assumes you’re both getting ready at the same location; what if instead of separate hotel rooms at one address, you’re at two different hotels, or even at your families’ houses in two different towns? Separate transportation then becomes even more time-consuming and costly. What if you realize that your shoes accidentally got packed in your partner’s bag, not yours? Who’s gonna travel across town to your partner’s location for the missing item, and how much wasted time might that add?
4) Getting ready together reduces anxiety.
Weddings can be nerve-wracking; getting ready together eliminates the extra stressor of waiting to see one another, and the expectations surrounding that first look. I’ve heard couples express feelings of nervousness and pressure due to the combination of separation and anticipation:
“Should I cry? I feel like I should cry when I see them…or should I try not to cry? I feel like I won’t be able to hold it together.” Or, conversely, “Do I look good? Will they cry when they see me? I hope they think I look amazing; they’re probably gonna cry, right?”
Now, for some couples, this build up of anticipation can be exciting and even enjoyable. The release of emotion (and yes, often, happy tears) when seeing each other can be powerful and meaningful. If that suits your personalities, and your wishes for your day, wonderful. However, if you know that you and your partner wouldn’t enjoy this sort of building pressure, if you sense that it would only make you more anxious on an already intense day, choosing to get ready together instead may be the better option.
5) Getting ready together reflects your authentic relationship and your real life.
I mean, you’ve already lived together for years, right? You get ready together at home all the time, eating brekky, feeding the cats, singing made up songs, and rushing into the bathroom to poop fast before your partner starts doing their makeup or drying their hair. Most other mornings of your life, you get ready together. You navigate life together. Hell, the whole reason you’re getting married is to affirm to the world that everything you do, you do together. So why should you feel pressured to pretend that, on this one liminal day called “wedding”, one or both of you suddenly becomes a rare and precious jewel that must be kept under museum glass, lest your partner’s and your guests’ faces start melting like that scene from Indiana Jones?
Maybe just a youtube video OF the scene
Remember: this is your wedding day,
and you both get to decide which traditions (if any) to embrace, and which to chuck in the garbage.
So, if the expense, stress, and gendered shitty-ness of hiding from each other all morning feels arbitrary and unhelpful, skip it.