Many couples are being faced with the question of whether to see each other or not before the wedding ceremony. It's a tough decision to make, as most brides want that moment when their husband to be sees them in their dress for the first time to be during the ceremony. With the timing and situation most are faced with though, that sometimes just isn't feasible. Some ceremonies are starting later, and after the ceremony, there isn't enough light for photos, or even time before they would need to arrive at the reception.
The key to making this work for you is to look over the pros and cons of both, and if you do decide either, here are some keys to each:
If you choose to see each other before hand:
1) Make sure that you and the photographer work out a designated "first meeting" spot and time. This should be a special moment between just the bride and groom with the photographer in the background taking photos. It's an intimate moment, and should be reserved for just the two of you.
2) If you are going to meet up before hand, make it worth your while and have the time designated for some portrait photos of the both of you, and then photos with family and bridal party.
3) Don't over do it! This happens a lot. Couples think that they have hours and hours worth of photos to take, and after 45 minutes of it, they are worn out. Don't do that to yourselves. Take the time to map out who and how many photos you really need, and be realistic. Start with just two of you, pick out neat locations to go to, then meet up with the bridal party and family afterwards for photos with each group.
Here is one of my couples who chose to see each other before the ceremony, and had a very special moment of their first meeting in the wine caves before their formal photographs:
If you choose to not see each other before hand:
1) Take as many photos before the ceremony that you can. Bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen, and sometimes family can be done as well.
2) After the ceremony, have a list for your photographer that has everyone needed for each photo, and make sure that these people know to stay after the ceremony. Finding them in the cocktail reception is difficult.
3) Start the largest group photos first. Let the grandparents and older relatives be in the photos they are needed to quickly, so they can go and relax before the dinner. You will eventually widdle it down to the bride and groom to take a few portrait shots.
4) Allow a break from the reception to take 10-15 minutes of photos with just the two of you, and if you can plan it around the sunset, that usually will get you the best possible light. It's worth it to take a few moments away, and you will be thankful for the beautiful photos after. Make sure to work with your planner and photographer on implementing this into the timeline.
Here is a photo of one of my couples who chose to wait to see each other, and took all their portrait photographs after the wedding and got great shots in Union Square during the holidays:
Either way you choose, make sure YOU are comfortable with it. Many people will offer their opinions, but ultimately, if you're not comfortable with it, it won't feel right. That holds true with all of your wedding planning!