Got a great question this morning from a bride:
"We are more traditional, do we have to to a first look?"
I get this question a lot. I also talk to a lot of couples who are unsure if they want to do a first look and see each other before the ceremony. There are pro's and con's to each, but I believe planned well either way can work out just fine for pictures. Ultimately it's a personal choice that each couple can make based on what fits them better.
If you opt not to see each other before the ceremony typically most pictures that include the bride and groom together are all done during the cocktail hour. This would be the couple photographs as well as all wedding party and family. Benefits of this are that it moves along quickly, all of the must have combinations of family groups and organized pictures are checked off the list one after another. It's also nice that it's typically later in the day at this point and the lighting is usually better than before the ceremony. Because the time is a little more limited, going to multiple locations for pictures usually isn't an option, however most venues can offer a vast variety of backdrops all in one general area.
Some photographers do require that you see each other before. The main reason is that it is a much more relaxed schedule. It does allow for taking breaks, have a seat, grab a snack. Depending on how early you opt to see each other you do have the option to go to multiple locations for pictures too. The other benefit is that you have the option to join your own cocktail hour. I've found some couples, especially those with guests traveling from different places, don't want to miss any time with their friends and family.
I have photographed just as many weddings with first looks as without and have found either way can work well. As long as a good plan is in place before the wedding day and a realistic photo list is made either option can work well.
Don't hesitate to reach out if you want to talk in more detail about your wedding day plan. I'm always happy to help couples make a plan for their day that works well and includes plenty of time for all of the best pictures.