Every bride has an image in her mind about the moment her groom sees her for the first time on their wedding day. It's a beautiful moment where he sees her and immediately tears up, overcome with emotion. I've seen it happen!
I've also seen it not happen.
I've seen many a groom stand in front of a congregation of his closest friends and family and all the people who love him, completely stoic.
Another thing I've seen is the manliest of men, standing in a secluded area, burst into tears before he even turned around to see his bride...because in the quiet of that moment, she was all he was thinking about.
I know there are photographers out there who pressure couples to do a first look simply because they think it makes doing the photos easier. I won't say that it doesn't in certain situations, but I also have a system down that allows me to get them done easily either way. That isn't my concern. My concern is to make sure that my couples have considered each part of the decision on whether or not to see each other before the ceremony.
Does he feel comfortable standing in front of a crowd?
This is a big one, in my opinion, and not one a lot of people really think about. If the groom is not comfortable just standing in front of a crowd, he isn't going to be comfortable being emotional in front of them either. Not every guy is okay with crying while half of the 200 people in attendance stare at him, waiting to see if that's what he'll do. Focus may be a problem too. If he is super nervous, his focus will be on that instead of his amazingly beautiful bride coming down the aisle. However, I've seen this go the opposite way many times too! Sometimes the crowd will feed the groom's excitement and anticipation. There are a lot of guys who react this way! I think when it gets down to it, this is a good question for the guys as wedding plans are being made. Sometimes they need to think about it and place themselves in the situation, and sometimes they just know if they need privacy for that moment, or they don't!
Do you want some time to yourselves on that day?
This is something else that I don't think a lot of people really think about. The bride and groom don't get any alone time to just bask in the reality of what is happening. On the day of the wedding, everyone is usually a little rushed and a little overwhelmed. Naturally so! Doing a first look will give you that alone time if it's set up well. There are a few things I do to make sure that my first look couples get their alone time: I find a secluded area to do it, and literally clear it of other family members and wedding party. My assistant helps with this. I set up the bride and groom, get my photos, and then step away. I always try to schedule in enough time while making the timeline to give the couple at least five minutes to themselves. Even just that small amount of time goes a long way! Sometimes you can even do this blind folded or from around a corner if you don't want to actually see each other! It's a good compromise to schedule into the timeline!
What time does your venue require everyone to be out?
I have shot some weddings at churches who have a Saturday night service, and require us to be out by a certain time. When that happens, we don't always have time to do any photos after the ceremony, which is when we would finish up if the bride and groom haven't seen one another. Just another thing to think about.
What time does the sun set?
This is important, especially in the colder months, because of outdoor photos that we would typically do after the ceremony. If you have a 4pm ceremony, and the sunset is at 5pm, you won't have much time to get any outdoor photos on the way to the reception. Also another thing just to think about while making plans and doing the timeline for the day.
When I sit down with a couple--whether it be right when we're meeting for the first time, or right before the wedding--I will always ask if they've discussed the first look and throw out these questions. Most people base the decision solely on what will be easiest as far as getting photos done. I think that's important, but I honestly feel like it's equally important to consider these other questions while you're at it.
Hopefully this helps, and gives you some more things to think about!