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We are wedding photographers based in Indianapolis, Indiana with a focus on storytelling.  Our husband and wife team excels at capturing candids and romantic portraits to help tell the story of two people in love.

Jennifer Van Elk Blog

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A husband & wife lifestyle wedding photography blog, highlighting the sessions captured by the team. Located in Indianapolis and South Bend.

Revealing: Why I Love Them

Jennifer Van Elk

Revealing Having a revealing is a new tradition that is emerging for brides and grooms on their wedding day.  A revealing is the moment a bride and groom see each other for the first time on their special day... but this isn't during the ceremony.  Does it make you nervous? Well, the majority of clients that aren't familiar with the concept become nervous when I ask, "Are you going to see each other before the ceremony?"  After I explain what a revealing is, most couples make the decision to include it on their wedding day. In talking to my clients and friends who have done a revealing, I've found that no one mentions that they regret doing it.

What happens during the revealing

Typically scheduling 15-20 minutes, after everyone is ready for the ceremony, to have a revealing is the best time frame with which to work. You can meet your soon-to-be spouse just about anywhere.  It's very popular to have it at a beautiful outdoor location or in the sanctuary where you will be married.  The groom arrives first and orients himself so as not to face the direction from which the bride will be arriving.  When the time is right, the groom turns around to see his soon-to-be wife (usually with an expression of amazement) and watches her walk toward him, much like what would happen during the ceremony. The pictures that come from this moment are usually amazing.  The photographer doesn't have to worry about the heads of the guest blocking facial expressions and they have the freedom to move around. There isn't much limiting the photography as they capture beautiful images of this moment.  Upon reaching one another the bride and groom have an unusual moment to themselves to hug, kiss, talk, and cry before they are ready to start their pre-ceremony pictures.

Why some people pass on the revealing because it's tradition

It might be pressure from your family, or it might be something on which you've always had your heart set. Some brides and grooms decide to go with it because it's all they've known.  The tradition has been that the groom doesn't see the bride on the day of the wedding until the ceremony for a long time and it's hard to go against that for some people.  Some people even believe that if it doesn't happen that way it will bring bad luck on the marriage.

10 reasons why it might be for you

1. It's becoming the new tradition

If you understand where the tradition actually comes from, it might not be that romantic. In the time of prearranged marriages, Grooms weren't allowed to see their bride until after they were married in fear that the groom would run if he didn't find her attractive (hence: veil).

There are reasons why we don't have duels or take a horse and carriage to work anymore, other things have replaced those (like trials with judges and automobiles).  Weddings are changing. They are bigger, better, and more beautiful.  40 years ago you didn't have 300 guests and a bridal party of 12.  It was almost unheard of to take pictures at a different location other than the sanctuary.

In the past 20 years wedding photography has became a must for couples. Traditions change with time.  Now more couples are choosing to see each other before the wedding.  It has been this way in the majority of weddings which I've attended (as a photographer or guest).  The antiquated tradition of waiting till the ceremony for the groom to see the bride is already fading.

2. Special moment

You probably won't have any other moment to spend alone with your soon-to-be spouse on your wedding day.  The day flies by and soon you will find yourself in your car heading away from your reception saying "hi" for the first time.  A revealing gives you a moment to spend one-on-one to talk, pray, or show off how gorgeous you are (yeah, I'm talking to you, Grooms).  A revealing is special.  You have the opportunity to tell each other how much they mean to you, how excited you are, how amazing they look, or just give them a kiss!  If you are worried that you will be emotionless at your wedding ceremony, I wouldn't worry.  I cried all the way up the aisle during my wedding ceremony and whilst walking toward my husband during my revealing.  The thoughts that went through my head during the ceremony were "This is actually happening! We are getting married!"  During our revealing, I had the opportunity to focus on him. There wasn't any one else around. It was all about us.  It doesn't take any of the specialness away.  A revealing will never replace your ceremony, but I believe it adds to it.

3. It helps calm nerves

A revealing takes away a lot of your nerves.  If you or your significant other gets nervous with just the thought of having to get up in front of hundreds of people, a revealing might be perfect for you.  I don't know about you, but my husband is always like Zoloft to me.  My nerves usually melt away.  I needed that revealing.  I was nervous walking towards him during the revealing but after that I was great.  Since we saw each other before the wedding, the pressure of him seeing me for the first time in front of our 200+ guests had time to dissipate.  It didn't take away the specialness of the moment. As I said I still cried, but it did help me to enjoy the moment more when I was walking down the aisle in the ceremony.

4. Different location for great shots

Are you someone who dreamed of a outdoor ceremony but were too nervous about the weather to actually have one? Well, a revealing might be perfect for you.  You aren't limited to having your revealing in the dark sanctuary or ceremony location.  Have it in a beautiful garden or some other sentimental location. That way you have those beautiful candid shots outdoors.  This might not replace your ceremony location preference but it sure comes close to it.

5. Worried about time

A revealing not only lessens the time of pictures but it assures that you'll be at your reception on time.  The reason why picture time decreases is because you aren't splitting up the wedding party and family during the picture time.  Taking the groom's pictures with the groomsmen and family  and then taking the bride's pictures with her bridesmaids and family actually adds about 45 minutes to the photo time.  Tearing down lights and setting them back up can be very time consuming, not to mention the time to get the groom back into his room and bringing the bride out.  It adds up.  For your revealing you can take all your pictures before the ceremony, and then you won't have to worry about the ceremony or receiving line running longer than expected.  The schedule is much more predictable.

6. More time at the reception

Like #5, you don't have to worry about being late to your reception because you'll have all of your pictures finished.  You put thousands of dollars into your reception.  The last thing you want to do is not enjoy every second of it.  You are looking at possibly showing up to your reception an hour or two earlier than you would if you waited till after the wedding to take all of the family and group pictures. Also, the sooner you get to the reception, the sooner you can start the dancing (which is my favorite part).

7. More time for the pictures you want

You aren't limited to just taking pictures before the ceremony.  If you want to make sure all your guest are there before you arrive, have a 20-30 minute shoot of just you and your spouse to be at a different location.  That way you can have a variety of shots to choose from.  The hardest part will be trying to fit all those wonderful pictures of the both of you on the wall.

8. Family members don't have to stay after the ceremony

Weddings are stressful on family members, especially grandma and grandpa. They are required to come early for pictures, then required to stay after for more.  Since most family members will be there early, why not eliminate the shoot after the ceremony.  If anything, they want to celebrate the families uniting at the reception with everyone else.

9. Guests don't have to wait

If you have been to a wedding, you know the party really never starts until the bride and groom get there, no matter what's being served.  When the bride and groom arrive at the reception 2 to 3 hours after the ceremony, this wears out a lot of guests and causes them to leave earlier in the reception proceedings.  Though the wedding isn't about the guests, it's safe to say we put more emphasis on the guests now than we did in the past.  Couples spend tens of thousands of dollars on their reception to pay for meals, drinks, and dancing for their guests.  You want those guests to be able to enjoy it as much as possible, because an atmosphere of fun is intoxicating.  Arriving as soon as you can will help assure that the reception starts off well.

10.  Ceremony and Reception are in the same location

This goes along with #9.  If your ceremony and reception are at the same location there is no travel time for your guests.  They aren't going to stop at a department store or grab a snack. They are going to walk right over to the reception.  So, not only will your guests have to wait but they'll have a longer time of waiting than normal.

Making the Decision for Yourself

It might seem as though I only want my clients to do a revealing. This isn't true.  I only want to inform them.  For most of my clients, this is their first wedding, and I would prefer they don't go into it blindly.  I really enjoy shooting the revealings because I see the beautiful images that come out of them, but I have lots of fun taking pictures of the brides and grooms that decide to wait.

The decision of whether or not you do a revealing is your decision to make. Don't let your family members or photographer pressure you into doing something you don't want to do.  This is your day, so make it just that.  Before you make your final decision, inform yourself.  Ask non-biased sources and read bridal forums to help discover what is best for your situation, if you are having trouble making a decision.  Either way, what is best for you is going to be best for the wedding.

Best wishes on your planning!