As with anything, there are pros and cons to deciding to see each other on your wedding day before you actually get married. First and foremost, it's a personal choice, and should be one that both of you support - no matter what you decide to do. As your photographer, I will make suggestions for the timeline to support your decision so that we can make sure we're still able to capture everything you've envisioned for your big day.
♥ Nerves. If the anticipation of seeing your future spouse gets your tummy in knots and you're worried that you won't be able to relax and enjoy yourself before walking down the aisle, having a first look may help ease the nerves a bit.
♥ Stage Fright. Sometimes the idea of walking into a church (or ceremony location) full of people staring at you - waiting for your reaction - can give you stage fright. It's confusing, and you're not sure what emotion you should grab onto. Having seen each other before this moment may help you re-focus and center yourself to what's really happening. You're walking toward your forever partner!
♥ Timelines. Weddings are becoming less and less traditional, as are the timelines. People are having later ceremonies, or choosing a venue where both the ceremony & reception are taking place together. Couples are concerned about keeping their guests entertained during the lengthy block of downtime while photos are being taken. Having a first look earlier in the day - especially on Friday weddings - gives you more flexibility with a shorter transition between ceremony & dinner.
♥ Winter Weddings. If you're having a wedding in the winter, you'll run into issues with daylight. It sort of only exists for a few hours here in the midwest. If you want to have beautiful airy outdoor photos, you'll want to either have an early ceremony, or have a first look to get those photos done prior to an afternoon ceremony.
♦ Nerves & Stage fright. Yup! They play a part here too. While the first look is intended to be a quiet, intimate moment between the two of you, nerves may get the better of you and any reactions or emotions you were expecting, just might not be there. Sometimes it's even more awkward to share this moment together in the presence of nobody else except me and my camera.
♦ Privacy. This isn't always the private moment you expect. I typically shoot this with a longer lens to be as far away as possible, however sometimes we don't have that option, and I might be a little closer than you'd imagine. Also, sometimes family members or bridal party members try to be a part of this moment - usually because they're super excited to see it unfold, especially since they're missing out on the more public option of waiting until the ceremony.
♦ Tradition. Parents may be disappointed in your choice to see each other before the ceremony. I don't think that you should let that be your only deciding factor, because you cannot please everyone. But I've had parents voice their opinions to me in the past, and it can put a damper on the mood during the big reveal.
♦ Timeline. If hair and make up goes long....if getting dressed takes too long....if we have to travel from a hotel to a venue in order to facilitate a first look....all these things can steal precious minutes of time from your portrait session. If the first look is happening so that there isn't any downtime between the ceremony and reception - we won't have much wiggle room to make up for lost time due to any other unforeseen mishaps.
♥ First touch. A staged moment where the two of you can have a moment to hold hands, say a prayer together, or just say hi. This is usually done with a wall or door way between the two of you so that you can't see each other...but you definitely build up the anticipation of your ceremony.
♥♥ Love letters. Exchanging love letters, poems, gifts or cards is a nice way of connecting with your soon to be spouse moments before the ceremony. You can have someone make the exchange for you, while your photographer / videographer captures it, or you can do as above - and make the hand off yourselves from opposite sides of a door/wall.
♥♥♥ First look with parent. I've had brides do a staged first look with their dads prior to walking down the aisle. This is a pretty big moment for some men, and if having emotional, moment driven images is something you want - this is a great way to get them. I'd LOVE to do a first look with a mom and her son as he's about to get married. (hint, hint)