To look or not to look, that is the question
What is a first look?
A first look is when the bride and groom agree to see each other before the actual wedding ceremony. Usually, the bride will sneak up behind the groom so that he is surprised (hopefully to tears) at the sight of her. First looks have their purposes, but they aren't for everyone. It's a personal decision on whether to have one or not and it will absolutely dictate how your day goes.
Share the Moment in Private
One of the biggest reasons to have a first look is so that you can relish in the moment of seeing each other for the first time in private without everyone staring at you. You get to see your person's reaction and live in that moment instead of being rushed through it to start the ceremony.
It's also a minute for the two of you to spend together before the ceremony. Wedding days are hectic and chaotic and stressful, and you are supposed to do all of this without seeing or speaking to your best friend in the whole world. Sharing a first look gives the two of you a moment together, before the chaos of the ceremony begins but after the hectic getting ready time, to breathe and to celebrate.
It Gives You Time After the Ceremony
Usually the hour immediately following the ceremony is dedicated to photos. And this time induces FOMO (fear of missing out) for a lot of people. You hear cocktail hour start up, everyone is having fun without you, and you're stuck taking photos. Instead, when you have a first look, you can schedule all of your photos before the ceremony so that once the ceremony ends, you're free to go right into celebrations!
Photos immediately following the ceremony are also difficult because everyone wants to come up to you, congratulate you, hug you, and chat! But you have to politely push them aside to get the photos done.
Winter weddings especially benefit from a first look. The sun sets so much earlier, so getting the photos done before the ceremony ensures that you have enough light to get those gorgeous photos without having to do them inside with artificial light which cast unflattering shadows.
Release the Pressure
With the first look out of the way, the photos done and over, the pressure of the day just melts away. You don't have to worry about anything but the beautiful union between you and your person. It makes the ceremony that much more meaningful that you're not worried about wrangling your family after the ceremony, and you're not worried that he's going to ugly cry in front of your whole family (because he already did, hopefully!). You get to just be in the moment during your ceremony and reception, and that's just a beautiful thing.