First Look or Ceremony Romance?

We've been debating for a while now whether to stick to tradition and wait until the ceremony to see each other or to do what so many couples do now-a-days and have a 'first look.' Kyle has surprised me many times with his wishes to stay traditional for our wedding (I wanted him to go dress shopping with me, he wants the surprise; I didn't think it mattered if we stayed together the night before (because honestly, I don't know where else to stay besides our house!), but he wants the night apart), so it makes sense that he would also want to wait until our ceremony to see each other. And quite frankly, this has been the only wedding-related fantasy I have ever had before getting engaged. I have long dreamed of walking down the aisle to see him standing there, feeling that overwhelming joyousness that I know I will have never felt before (I get chills just thinking about it now!).

I dream of this moment. Photo by Joie Lala

We were pretty certain we wanted to wait to see each other until our wedding ceremony, until we met with a photographer, who explained the benefits of doing a 'first look.' You get more time to enjoy your wedding post-ceremony, instead of having to run off immediately and shoot all of your couple photos, plus your family photos, and wedding party photos. That's a lot of photos to fit into cocktail hour! If you take the time for couple photos before, then you also have as much time as you want to take photos and get the right shots, instead of cramming it all into an hour. And really, all you're going to want to do after the ceremony is celebrate!

The sweetest 'first look' I've ever seen! Photo by Andria Lindquist, moment junkie

Photo by Rebecca Hansen, OnceWed

Okay, full disclosure here, I'm a crier. I'm not one of those cute criers either, with a tear gracefully trickling down my rosy cheek. No. There's none of that happening. It's either full on sobbing and gasping for air or nothing. If there is ever a day to cry in my life, it will be my wedding day (not watching Once for the 12th time). I'm expecting that when I first see Kyle, I'll quite literally burst into tears. So, the question is, do I want this to happen while I'm walking down the aisle in order to preserve that moment, and take it for what it is, in all its unabashedly raw authenticity? Or should I have that moment with only me and Kyle (and our photographer and videographers), giving me time to cry and be comforted by Kyle before our ceremony?

Photo by Andrea Lindquist

I've also realized that the traditional 'first look' where the bride taps her soon-to-be husband on the shoulder and he turns around to see her face-to-face isn't for me. Part of what I loved about waiting until the ceremony was that we each had a minute to look at each other and take it all in before we were face-to-face at the end of the aisle. So, I think we can combine what we love about both, and have a first look where I walk towards Kyle. And I'll love it even more if it involves a staircase, for that (I wish I didn't want it, but I really, really do!) Cinderella moment. And our venue just so happens to have the most gorgeous staircase.

Photo by One Love Photo

Photo by Meg Perotti

There's also an ethereal outdoor staircase, so we have options if the weather is good!

Photos by Jasmine Star

So here's where I need your help! Did you do a 'first look' or wait until the ceremony to see each other? What did you think? Were you grateful to have done one over the other? Was it still just as incredible to see your partner at the end of the aisle if you had already seen them? Did you feel more composed because you had seen them?

I need your lessons learned and words of wisdom please and thank you!