I got my start shooting weddings in the South. By and large we of a Southern United States heritage tend to have "The Big Southern Wedding". And I do have to say Southern Brides know how to do weddings right. Along with these Southern Weddings, you have the tradition of the bride and groom staying out of each other's sight the day of the wedding until their ceremony actually begins. But now you are seeing all of these brides in magazines and on blogs doing this thing called the "First Look" ... and you're thinking should I do this? Will my photographer make me do this? How do I explain this to my groom or heaven help me my mother!?
We probably photograph 50/50. About half of our bride and grooms choose to have a first look and the other half choose to go the traditional route. I have to say I do love photographing the "First Look", but I am also a huge believer in doing what you as a bride want to do on your wedding day.
From the perspective of a photographer:
When a Bride + Groom choose to have that special moment before the ceremony when they can see each other for the first time I have noticed several things happen.... The grooms often have a more genuine reaction because they feel more comfortable being themselves in front of their bride vs. all of their wedding guests when the bride walks down the aisle. Also the stress level of both the bride and groom go down, it's like seeing each other puts everything in place. And whether they choose to go back to their separate spaces before the ceremony or hang out together for the rest of the day they both seem to have so much more fun! (I happen to love this reaction!)
From the Groom's perspective:
I had a bride meet with us before her wedding and fall in love with the idea of having this "First Look" moment with her Groom. However her groom was definitely at odds with this idea. He wanted to have that grand moment when she was walking down the aisle.... however he was open to the idea of seeing what it was all about. So the groom went home and looked up as many articles as he could find on "The First Look" and in the end he agreed. After these two were married and returned to our studio to view their wedding pictures the groom was ecstatic. He claimed that the first look was one of his favorite parts of the day and that he would highly recommend it to any other groom and would even write a review about how awesome it was if we wanted one!
Alternative to "The First Look" :
Usually if my Bride + Groom choose to keep it traditional instead, I will offer my favorite alternative to still achieve those beautiful shots you see of the Bride and Groom together. Now most would take the time between the ceremony and reception to take these stunning shots, taking longer to get to the reception. However I usually take a few shots right after the ceremony of the bride and groom as well as the family, then later after you've danced, eaten, mingled with your guests, we will go back out around sunset or even after dark and create some incredible romantic portraits of the two of you together! It is also a great moment for the two of you to just relax, hang out, and get to go "Wow we're married!"
In the End... I think every couple should choose what they would be happy with... It is your day after all! - Kristin