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Degas-Bayou St. John House

Degas-Duvigneaud House

First Look

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There are many events that lead up to the actual wedding ceremony, one being the “First Look”. It involves a small snippet of time which is always a romantic and intimate moment between a bride and groom. It can be arranged many ways, depending on the wishes of the couple. The photographs that result from this event can stir up a great deal of emotion when the couple sees them after the wedding.

But how did this tradition come about? Originally, when arranged marriages were the custom, the betrothed couple wasn’t allowed to see each other at all before the wedding. The wedding was a business deal between two families and the father searched for someone suitable to marry his daughter, such as a land-owning, rich suitor. There was a chance that the couple might not “take” to each other and one or both may not want to go through with the “deal”. Therefore, they were only allowed to meet at the wedding ceremony so that neither would have the opportunity to call off the wedding and bring shame to the families. That was also the purpose of the veil – to keep the groom from knowing what the bride looked like until the last possible moment, when it would be too late.

Although arranged marriages are not so common anymore, most brides still don’t want the groom to see them on the day of their wedding to allow for the “wow” factor when he sees her walk down the aisle. Even the bridal gown is kept out of his view. The groom, of course, already knows what the bride looks like, but on her wedding day, she is “done up” the best she can be and wants the groom to be happily surprised when he sees her in the gown she has chosen for the wedding.

Some couples choose to have this take place at the First Look, which is usually done in private, only shared by the two of them and their photographer, away from family and the bridal party. The things that the groom says to the bride at this time are words she will never forget. Those minutes together may be the favorite part of the day for both of them.

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That tradition today serves many purposes. It provides a special romantic moment often accompanied by tears and a pleasant surprise for the groom, usually captured in photography. Some feel it helps the couple to relax before the ceremony, having had that moment of privacy and intimacy before being seen by the wedding guests. A First Look also gives the couple and their families time to take pre-wedding photos.

As with any wedding activity, there are pros and cons. One of the cons is that this break in tradition means that the wedding guests will miss seeing the groom see the bride for the first time in her wedding dress. The groom’s look at that moment is always priceless. One of the pros is that they won’t have to take time during their reception for family photos.

If this is something you are considering for your wedding, talk to your photographer and explain what you have in mind. Choose your location wisely. He or she may be give you some suggestions in order for you photos to be dramatic and capture those split-second emotions by each of you which will surely be some of your favorite photos.

[Photography by Maile Lani Photography]

Degas House
2306 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA, 70119, United States
Call: (504) 821-5009
(504) 821-0870 fax

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Degas House

A New Orleans Bed and Breakfast, Degas House is home to the French Impressionist Master, Edgar Degas, and is a masterpiece of history and hospitality.