and why you might want to do one
A first-look; when you choose to see each other before the ceremony instead of taking the traditional approach of waiting until you get to the alter, is an option that has been getting more and more popular over the years. It's primarily used in order to give us more time (WAY more time!) for portraits, but there are other benefits too!
If you've taken a look at my page on Creating a Timeline, you'll understand just how much of an impact a first-look can have on your overall experience, and the number of bride+groom portraits that you'll end up with in your final gallery by doing a first-look. By being able to get all of the bridal party photos taken care of before the ceremony, you're allowing just the two of you to utilize more of the cocktail hour for yourselves, instead of just 25 minutes. But if you're on the fence about it because you've been dreaming about that traditional moment of seeing each other for the first time while walking down the aisle, here are some pros and cons to help you decide. Remember that I'll be okay with either that you choose:
2 to 3 times more bride + groom portraits
All of the best evening lighting is reserved for your most important portraits
Less stress worrying about running out of time if the family formals take longer than planned
More time together on the wedding day
Potentially shorter cocktail hour if we finish up early! Everyone loves getting to eat sooner
Privacy to take in the moment together, instead of in front of an audience (I have seen more groom's cry during a first-look than at the alter)
The option to get all family formals out of the way before the ceremony
Not having that traditional reveal that you've imagined (but I promise, from experience, first-looks are just as, if not more emotional!)
You might have family pressure to wait until you see each other at the alter
SAVE MORE TIME
On top of a first-look, you can save a whole 20-25 minutes by having your family arrive an hour before the ceremony to get family formals taken care of! Now when the ceremony is over, your family can happily drift away to cocktail hour and enjoy themselves while you're outside having photos taken...instead of trying to hear me chaotically organize them over the DJ and the crowd nearby.