Some brides spent the night before the wedding with their fiancé; others stayed apart a full week…
"My fiancé and I spent the night together at the venue where the wedding was taking place. We got the bridal suite a night early and ordered room service the morning of the wedding. It was so nice to have a quiet moment before all the chaos began. We ate, chatted, and then kissed goodbye and he went off with his groomsmen for a shave. I stayed in the suite where all the bridesmaids convened for hair and makeup. The next time I saw him was in front of our wedding photographer taking the first shot of him seeing me in my wedding gown and he in his custom tux. It was the perfect morning to the perfect day." —Stephanie
"I was so nervous—shaking and crying—that to calm down I needed to see my about-to-be husband 10 minutes before the wedding. It was the best decision I could have made. Otherwise I would have looked like a hot mess as I walked down the aisle." —Karina
"My husband and I married September 3, 2016. We are Christians, and did not sleep together until our wedding night. We wanted to keep ourselves pure and save sex for within the covenant of marriage. We got married at my grandmother's house under the family tree. My parents and most of my family had been married under this olive tree. I heard my fiancé getting ready with his groomsman in the adjacent room, but the first time I saw him since the rehearsal dinner was the first look. Still, seeing him face to face at the altar was when it all became real! My stress and anxiety melted away and we were both ecstatic! It was a surreal moment, one I'd been waiting my whole life for!" —Molly
"Before we got married, my husband (then fiancé) and I had already been living together for nine months. The last time I saw him before our wedding day was at the rehearsal dinner. That night, I had a sleepover with my bridesmaids at my parents' house and then got ready the next morning. My fiancé and I did do a first look before our actual ceremony where we exchanged and read letters. Doing a first look was amazing because it helped calm our nerves and reaffirm our bond before we became husband and wife." —Christina
I am a Jewish matchmaker and dating coach and I did not see my husband for an entire week before my wedding, as is the custom in traditional Orthodox Jewish marriages. Orthodox couples also refrain from sexual relations before marriage. For one week, we did not talk on the phone, see each other, or communicate at all. My sister served as the go-between for any necessary messages. At the hotel on the day of our wedding, everything was carefully choreographed to get me to where I needed to be for pictures, etc., and him to be where he needed to be without us seeing each other. In my work as a matchmaker, nearly all of the couples I have set up and married off have done the same thing. I will never forget the feeling when I saw him again for the first time at our wedding after such a long separation. My mother says I jumped out of my chair, and I really did. I think it is a very healthy thing, especially with pre-wedding jitters. It also creates an incredibly special anticipation and excitement for both the wedding and the first night you'll have together intimately as a married couple." —Lori
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.