From the very first time I begin corresponding with brides, I always ask if they have a preliminary timeline and if they have thought about how their day will flow. Some say yes and some look at me like I have a third eyeball. It's typically at that time when I discuss planning your ceremony time around when the sun will set at that time of the year, and whether or not the bride and groom want to see each other before the ceremony. I personally believe that doing a first look is the best option for 90% of the weddings I shoot. The main exception to that is if the ceremony time is early, like before 4:00 or so. If the ceremony is at 2 pm then it makes sense to wait until after to do couples portraits as the light is more flattering later in the evening.
I do understand that people are set in their traditions and a lot of brides believe that a groom should never see his bride before the wedding ceremony. That's totally fine if brides want to be traditional, just understand that it will significantly delay the start of the reception. I always mention to my couples that the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony began because of arranged marriages. The story was that if the groom saw the bride before the ceremony and she was ugly, that he would run away.
I typically request 25 minutes for family formals, 20 minutes for bridal party photos, and 30 minutes for bride and groom portraits. This means that if you do not see each other before the ceremony, then your guests will wait for an hour and 15 minutes after the ceremony ends for you to make your grand entrance. Some people don't mind, but others feel guilty for keeping their guests waiting.
Most couples who have done a first look say that it significantly lowers their stress level and makes the rest of the day much easier. It's nice to have a few minutes alone with your honey to sneak a few kisses, exchange gifts, etc. I have not had a couple yet who have regretted doing a first look but I have had a few regret not doing one when we became extremely pressed for time when doing portraits after the ceremony.
The look on your groom's face is just as priceless and you'll get to see it up close rather than from the back of the aisle.
Whatever you decide, I will work with you and be sure to capture some amazing moments that you will cherish forever and ever. I have sample timelines for couples who are planning on going the traditional route, and for those planning to do a first look. Contact me today so we can get started planning your day!