Image: One Love Photo


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Monday, October 18, 2010

#110: Pre-Ceremony Awesomeness (Plus a receiving line alternative!)

All of you who tune in to watch red carpet interviews just before the Academy Awards begin, and all you sports fans who love pre-game coverage will agree:

The hour before a big event can be a pretty darn cool experience- maybe even equally as hands-down amazing as the big event itself.

How did Brian and I spend the hour just before our wedding ceremony? We accidentally spent it with our guests. And it. Was. Awesome.

You see, it was 9 am and we were screwed. We were supposed to be at our reception venue (a farm) to take the professional candid family photos I had long been fantasizing about. But after the last bit of hair spray was applied, and all of our family members' cars were packed with supermarket flowers, 250 cans of soda, our honeymoon bags, and all of the STUFF that must be hauled to a DIY wedding reception venue, we were running super late. (Runnin' on Filipino time, as we say.)

...And it was off we raced to the ceremony venue (the historic Quaker meeting house pictured below), figuring that we could just take our photos there instead of at the farm.

Now this was not an ideal situation. It would mean: (1) that we would be photographed in front of guests as they arrived for the ceremony; (2) I'd be losing the incredible farm backdrop for our photos; and (3) I would not have the traditional "grand entrance" in my dress during my procession down the aisle.

But screw all of that. Those minor issues paled in comparison to what our plan B offered us. Here's I loved doing a photo shoot at the entrance of our venue (as guests arrived!) just moments before the ceremony:
  • In between portrait shots I was able to greet guests as they trickled in. What's cool is that it wasn't one long receiving line of hand shakes, hugs, and kisses, since there were several minutes in between the arrival of each group. Instead it was more like little pockets of time for small talk, hugs, jump-up-and-down-with-your-college-buddies kinda joy, with posed portrait shots in between. It was a receiving line, photo shoot, and party, baby, all rolled into one-- it multitasking at it's finest.
  • We got some sweet candid photos that captured all of the pre-game excitement, the greeting of those who traveled across states to celebrate with us, and the look of delight on people's faces as they first stepped foot onto the beautiful historic grounds. These were all special moments that we otherwise would not have captured on camera.
  • It made me feel relaaaaaaxed before the ceremony. I was focused on simply being with the people I love -- not nerves, or coordinating, or hiding out in a bridal suite making sure everything looked perfect every time I'd pass a mirror. It kind of felt like your family's annual holiday party when you excitedly await for guests to arrive, and how every 5 minutes the door bell rings and you find another awesome group of people at the doorstep to hug and kiss and high-five and chat up a storm with.

Engaged people: What pre-ceremony activity could you do to help you feel joyful, relaxed, and "yourself"?

Newlyweds: How did you spend your pre-ceremony moments? 



  1. Hooray for this! Our wedding is in February, but our ceremony isn't until 5pm. (It's summer then where we are, so sunset isn't until about 8.30pm.) I told my getting-ready team (my mum and sister) that absolutely NO wedding things are to be begun until after lunch, so that my fiance and I can spend the morning hanging out at home, and doing one of our favourite things - visiting the local monthly farmers' market, which happens to be on that day! It's one of our favourite things to do together, and I'm stoked that we will get to go there together on our wedding day. I know I will find it both relaxing and usefully distracting :D

    (Also, thankyou so much for all your wording up of Dolly Couture!! Thanks to your experience I've been confident enough to take the plunge in buying a dress from California and having it shipped to Australia, sight unseen! And you're right, their customer service is truly amazing :D even though I haven't ordered my dream dress yet, I'm already so happy with it!)

    (I should also say I am too tall to buy yours :( but it is stunning! I'm sure you'll find a buyer soon!)

  2. That sounds delightful! I think we're definitely going to do a first-look/spend time with each other before the wedding. Isaiah soothes my nerves like no one else can...I think I might be a little bit of a nervous wreck otherwise!

  3. We rushed around trying to do photos (our venue was a good backdrop) before our ceremony as well, but as they were on-site we too saw our guests coming in. We mingled a bit, but mostly the guests understood that photos were in progress and to leave us to get them done - the fewer we did pre-ceremony, the more wed've had to do post-ceremony, meaning time missed from cocktail hour.

    We had no interest in a receiving line from the get-go (so stuffy! so formal! And you know I am not interested in traditional stuff) so our cocktail hour acted as a chance to say hello to everyone, but it was far more natural and free-flowing and all in all worked better than a receiving line ever could have.

  4. It was important to Ben that we not see eachother before the wedding. The downside of this was that we had to spend our cocktail hour taking photos, but I did also enjoy the excitement of the big reveal as I walked down the isle etc.
    Most of the morning of the wedding was fun, but also a blur and a whirlwind of activity once I got to the ceremony site.
    The one spontaneous and relaxing moment happened on the way to the site. My dad had arranged for us to go from my parents house in the city up to the venue in the suburbs in a limo. It was originally going to just be me, my mom and my maid of honor. But it wound up being me, my mom, my MOH, one of my bridesmaids who lives in the same part of the city as my parents, my brother, his fiance and my hairdresser (she's a close family friend and was attending the wedding after doing my hair at the house that morning and she needed a ride to the venue!) As we were on the expressway the song Hotel California came on the radio and our whole limo started singing along at the top of our lungs. It wasn't the limo that made this special -- we could have done it in a 12 person van just as easily -- it was the fact that we were all together and singing.
    My advice would be find a way to do that thing that you love on the morning of your wedding. For me that thing is singing, for you it may be a cup of tea or coffee or dancing around the room naked before everyone else gets there. But whatever that thing is, it totally gets you in a happy place and in the right frame of mind.

  5. Like a few others here, we decided to do majority of our photos pre-ceremony as we really wanted to be able to get straight into the reception following the ceremony (both were at the same venue). I am so glad that we did see each other beforehand as it really did calm me down a little and meant that when I was walking down the aisle, I was just excited, not nervous. It was also nice that we had that 'first look' moment as a private one, it was pretty special.

    I will admit that I had a bit of a bridezilla moment when guests started showing up half an hour early while we were still around doing our photos. Although we had tried to close up the venue so people would wait out the front til we were ready, they were just excited to see us and so opened the doors & came straight in... I had to send my brother on bouncer duties!!

    The morning of the wedding, I hopped up early (too excited to sleep!) and went for a walk around the streets nearby the venue with my Dad. It was a great way to start the day and since its something that we normally do together, it helped me to feel a little more grounded & normal for the rest of the day.


Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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