I always recommend my brides and grooms see each other before the wedding though it is not required. The first reason is for the experience. Just like your marriage, the first sight is just about the 2 of you alone for an intimate moment instead of having 200 sets of eyes on you. It breaks the ice and tension of the day so the bride and groom can focus on each other instead of the stresses of the day. We set it up to be special and alone where I will get first reaction pictures while he tells you everything he thinks of your dress as opposed to getting to the altar and not being able to say a word since the ceremony has begun. The second reason is to get all those beautifully artistic and emotional pictures that you would not otherwise have the time or daylight for after the ceremony. As you can see on my website, I am a natural light photographer. If you would like those natural light pictures you would need to schedule your ceremony to end at least 1 hour before sunset or do the first sight prior to the ceremony. Another benefit to the first sight is that we don't waste any time after the ceremony and you can get to the reception the same time as your guests to enjoy where most of the wedding budget is spent.
Here is some history on this tradition...
Back in the olden days of arranged marriages the couple would not see each others faces for the first time until the bride was at the end of the aisle to remove the veil covering her face. This was done to prevent the bride or groom from being a no show due to the way the other looked. If you are not betrothed and this is not an arranged marriage then there is no need to play hide and seek on the big day.
I have nothing against a couple who does not want to see each other before the ceremony. I understand and firmly believe that you get what you want on your wedding day, I just want to make sure I educate my clients on their options.
Quote from Bride Casey: "First Sight was the very best idea for Andy and I! I was so extremely nervous to see my husband for the first time all made up in my wedding gown. Although I was still nervous when first approaching him, my tension was quickly eased because we could instantly be excited, laugh and talk together before the ceremony which calmed my nerves! I can’t imagine being that nervous to see him and then having to stand without saying a word to each other for a thirty minute ceremony. The “first sight” was also great for our situation because we were able to take all of our pictures before the ceremony, not prolonging our guests wait time at the reception."
Quote from Groom Andy: "I was not as nervous because I was able to see Casey before the ceremony. We were able to talk and calm each others nerves before standing to take our vows in front of 200 people."
Quote from Bride Karen: "I'm totally glad I listened to Dorothy and did the first sight! I was on the edge of losing it all day long after almost a year of planning your so worried about the end results - you have no idea that you're also worried about seeing your groom - all day I felt like I couldn't take a breath until the few minutes I spent with my groom! It was just us being us and it was exactly what I needed to ease my stress! And it made for some amazing pictures I can look back on them now and I know exactly what we were thinking and laughing about!"
Quote from Bride Sarah in picture below her grooms quote: "I was totally against the idea at first but I am so glad we did! We would not have had the light after the ceremony for the beautiful pictures and I think we would have been anxious to get to the reception. It also gave me a moment to calm down, breathe and kiss my groom once more as a single lady! I am SO glad we saw each other before."
Quote from Groom Zack in picture below: "I thought it was good because I was able to take in the moment just between the two of us. I feel at the ceremony there are so many people watching and you are expected to act a certain way and it is not as genuine. This way I was really able to feel and experience my true emotions."
Quote from Bride Ashleigh in picture below: "I opted to see my husband before the wedding. Dorothy was amazing in this decision!! I have always been one to be traditional about not seeing my husband before my wedding. Well, when Dorothy first presented me with the idea of seeing him before, I was still on the rocks about whether or not I wanted to. Dorothy expressed to me how special she would make it where its just the two of us, how wonderful the pictures turn out and how much time it really does save. When my wedding day came, I was so anxious and nervous just like any other bride. Our wedding coordinator along with Dorothy helped get our special meeting place ready. My husband was the first to go down there and Dorothy had him turn around to face her while I walked up behind him. When he turned around, that was the one of the best moments of the whole entire day. All my anxiety went away when I saw the smile on his face and the tears in his eyes. We were able to share some special time together before the wedding and actually talk to one another!! I loved all the creative photos Dorothy was able to get of us and our wedding party before the wedding. Since all my nervousness was gone, I was able to just have fun with everything and enjoy my day!! I promise it didn't change the reaction my husband had to seeing me for the first time walk down the isle! That moment was still so special! I would not change my decision to this day about seeing him before the wedding."