A tradition passed down from generation to generation, and wrapped in superstition, there has been a rise in the question of whether or not couples feel the necessity in waiting to see each other until the doors open and the bride is walking down the aisle. Something that has surprised me lately however, is getting the question "Do I have to have a first look?" It's almost as though my brides have been told by others that they must break the tradition of not seeing their groom beforehand, creating an all new "tradition" on their own. The answer to that question is absolutely not. In this day and age, it is 100% acceptable to go with or without a first look, and I'm here to offer some pros and cons for my current brides, future brides, and anyone else who might be considering a first look on their wedding day. I can happily say that I've never heard a bride say they wished it happened another way, so it really is a matter of making the decision that is best for you as a couple.
Pro-First Look: Getting rid of the wedding day "jitters"
You have time before your ceremony, the reception, the "oh-my-god-your-married-here-lets-take-a-selfie" to get rid of your nerves, and take a moment to really soak in the fact that you're getting married to this wonderful person standing next to you. The step you are getting ready to take is huge, and your friends and family who are there to support you are going to want a piece of you when the ceremony is over, so it may be worth taking that little bit of time before the ceremony to just give your to-be spouse a big hug and tell them you love them one last time before making the big jump!
Pro-Waiting For The Ceremony: You don't want to be rushed while trying to get ready.
Unless your ceremony is in the evening and have the whole day to prepare, which it may be, from the moment you start curling your hair to the moment you are walking down the aisle is probably going to feel like a big blur, and you may want to relish in the last single moments with your parents, and bridal party. At times we get so caught up in making sure that every "must-do" box has been checked off that we forget to relish in the memories that you have made with your bridesmaids leading up to the wedding, and sip on mimosas. This is the time to hug your sister, your mom, your 'maids, and thank them for all that they have done for you, and prepare yourself for the biggest party of your life. Have a mimosa for me, and laugh about the years that have passed.
Pro-First Look: You're worried about not having enough portrait time.
While all of these reasons are legitimate, this is probably the one that has most photographers concerned. Depending on the date that your wedding falls on, the sun may set a fair bit earlier than it would at other times of the year. You may also not have tons of time scheduled between your ceremony and your reception, and we also need to take portraits with the bridal party and your families. For as much as I would love to crank that stuff all out quickly, it's not a five minute process and if you don't have enough time allotted for portraits of just the two of you, you may be disappointed in the weeks and years after your wedding. On average I would suggest at least 45 minutes for portraits of just you and your significant other. The other important thing to consider here is the natural light. If you are seeing tons of beautifully sun-lit photos and that's the look you love, but are getting married in November-Early March and your ceremony is at 5 P.M., that beautiful golden-hour light will have already disappeared after your ceremony. This isn't to scare you, but it is probably important to ask your photographer what the light will look like during the time of the year that you are getting married in.
Pro-Waiting For The Ceremony: Seeing the reaction of your significant other seeing you for the first time at the end of the aisle is important to you.
Call me a little cheese-y, but some of my favorite wedding-day moments include waiting for the grooms reaction when those big, beautiful wedding doors open up. That moment can turn some of the strongest, toughest guys into a big bucket of tears, overcome with emotion and excitement. I have seen just about everything from the ugly-cry to cheering and dancing. That half of a second, packed full of emotion makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it, and it's completely understandable why some brides wouldn't want to give that up. That's not to say that you won't get that with a first look, but knowing that your to-be spouse would be seeing you for the very first time as you're walking down the aisle might mean a lot to you.
Pro-First Look: You want to make it to cocktail hour.
Unless you've got at least 2 hours worked into your schedule between your ceremony and cocktail hour, the time needed to take your couples portraits, bridal party portraits, and family portraits will very likely cut into your cocktail hour if you haven't taken any of these photos beforehand. For some couples, they are okay with missing some, or all of their cocktail hour, but for others, it is something they are dead set against. Again, I'd love to shoot everything in 15 minutes and have you to your party, but being realistic about your schedule will save you, your groom, your family and bridal party, and your photographers a lot of stress, and allow you the time to get the photos you are hoping for.
Pro-Waiting For The Ceremony: You're superstitious that it'll cause bad luck.
There is NO judgement, literally none, if you feel that a first look may cause bad luck. Just because I don't know someone who has had bad luck after seeing their significant other before the ceremony, doesn't mean that you don't. Different cultures, religions, or experiences may give you a different world view than someone else's. My superstitions - and they do exist - may be different than your superstitions, and I will never tell you that yours is wrong.
So what do I do?
You make an educated decision on what is best for you and your spouse. Whether it be to have a little bit more time for you and your significant other, it's your decision, and you shouldn't let anyone tell you otherwise. The new idea that you need to have a first look is anything but the truth, and there are as many rules for having a first look as there are for not having one.