Wedding Traditions Explained: Looking Up The Aisle

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We were asked recently whether it was traditionally bad luck for a groom to look up the aisle as the bride enters the ceremony room. All we could say was what we knew: some officiants tell the groom when to turn around, and others don’t. So we decided to do some research on looking up the aisle, and whether it is actually bad luck at all.

Meeting Before The Wedding

It is common knowledge that a couple shouldn’t see each other the day before the wedding; it’s bad luck. But this tradition stems from the time of arranged marriages.

A marriage used to be a joining of two families, arranged by the fathers of those families. The decision was based on politics, finances, or to gain more power and respect within society. It was therefore irrelevant if the bride and groom to be liked each other at all.

By preventing the couple to be from objecting to the marriage, or worse – calling it off, it was decided that they should be kept apart as much as possible. If they’d never met, that was even better. The bride would wear her veil over her face until the ceremony was complete, so neither party could back out.

The bride and her father walking down the aisle at Cutlers' Hall Sheffield

Looking Up The Aisle

The tradition that the groom should not look back up the aisle is an extension of not seeing each other before the day. By not seeing the bride at all until she reached the altar, he had no time to leave the building.

As couples nowadays tend to have met before the wedding day and have both consented to marrying each other, this isn’t a consideration anymore.

Some wedding officiants like to continue this tradition by advising the groom not to look back up the aisle. Others need to remind the groom to turn around (it’s easy to forget if you’re nervous!).

Most couples we meet love to watch each other as they come together at the altar. It focuses them on each other, rather than on the guests and calms their nerves.

Whether you decide to see each other the day before the wedding or not is entirely up to you as a couple. Just make sure you let your officiant know whether you’d like to look up the aisle or not!

Groom looking up the aisle as bride walks into the ceremony room

Want to know more about walking down the aisle? Take a look at our guide on The Wedding Procession.

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