We absolutely love many of the pre-wedding customs that couples choose to do before their ceremonies. Gift or letter exchanges, for example, are very sweet and meaningful. Both express feelings the couple have for each other and the reasons they’re there getting married. They are personal, often reflecting things that only they know about their intended. They are also private and say things that the couple might not feel comfortable saying publicly in their wedding vows. And the best part? The photos of the exchange never fail to amaze! They are emotional, impactful and special. Like this image of a pre-wedding letter exchange before this couple’s marriage celebrations outside of Baltimore.
Whether or not a couple decides to exchange something before their wedding ceremony, the choice is not terribly controversial. Most people don’t have strong opinions about the practice. A tradition that does tend to divide people more, though, is the first look or first touch. (Well, it gets the documentary wedding photography community worked up, anyway.) On the off chance that you’re not familiar with those customs, they are a way for the couple to interact before the ceremony. Either to see each other in their wedding clothes for the first time or (if they want to save that for the ceremony) to hold hands briefly.
We won’t delve into the pros and cons of having a first look or first touch here. But we will say that if you decide to make either of these customs part of your wedding day, we don’t think you’ll regret it. The moment when you see one another for the first time is certain to be emotional. And the anticipation and that you’ll feel when you touch hands but can’t see each other is something you’ll remember forever. And again, the pictures we take will be ones you’ll treasure forever.
This particular couple combined three of these four wedding-day traditions into one beautiful pre-ceremony moment. (Though combining all of them would be technically possible, we have yet to see a couple do that.) They shared a lovely first touch through a window in a wall at their venue. After savoring that moment, the bride and groom then passed a gift and a letter through the space. That only heightened the emotions they were obviously feeling. They teared up a little while reading the letters and examining the gifts. The latter – a decorative knife for her and an engraved watch for him – were the kind of personal expressions that make this tradition so beautiful.
The couple’s choice of venue was instrumental in making their plan of combining the three customs a reality. The Cloisters Castle, located not far from Baltimore, has a spot that is absolutely perfect for a first touch and gift/letter exchange. On one side of the castle’s main tower is a staircase that leads down to the ground floor. At the foot of the stairs is the aforementioned window in the wall. Its purpose there is unclear (to us anyway). But the fact that there is no glass pane in it makes it ideal for being in one another’s presence without catching sight of each other. The stairs on just one side of it help with that as well. As you can see in this emotional Baltimore pre-wedding letter exchange photo, that difference in elevation makes it properly difficult for the couple to see each other.
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