I recently e-mailed several of my brides and grooms from recent months to gauge their opinion of having seen each other before their ceremony. Did they like it? Would they do it that way again? Would they advise others to do the same? I am very pleased to say that I've guided them in the right direction:

Tiffany from Tiffany + Dave
"For me, having our "first look" before the ceremony was more of a practicality issue than anything else.  David wanted it to be during the ceremony but I pointed out the time crunch and that having it before would be the best choice.  He agreed though I'm sure under protest.  I had seen him in the lobby of the hotel in his uniform and was he hot!  When we were finally ready to have our first look, I was excited.  My heart was pounding not from nervousness but from excitement.  I was feeling excited and shy, as you can tell from the pictures. I was shy since I was so dolled up which is not the norm for me.  When he turned around... I knew it was all worth it.  The feelings were of contentment and happiness.  It was like, now that we had finally seen each other, the rest of the day and our lives were going to be just fine.  I liked that our first look was just us and that we had time to enjoy being with each other before the ceremony.  Walking down the aisle, the world narrowed to just him--I didn't hear any music, no one else was there.  The first look down the aisle was just as special even though we had seen each other before hand.  I think it was better because we had already had time to just be with each other and enjoy each other and share that moment. I thought that we had plenty of time for pictures and if I had to do it all again, I would still have our "first look" before the ceremony."

Dave from Tiffany + Dave
"Part of me wished we could have waited till the wedding to see her for the first time. But taking the vast majority of pictures beforehand made the day less stressful and made it go smoother I feel. We decided to see each other before the wedding for that reason. In the end, seeing each other before the wedding or at the wedding really didn't make a huge difference, because it was still a private moment we had before the wedding, in some ways it was more private because it was just Tif and I and the photographer."

Kerry from Kayla + Kerry
"It was just nice to see Kayla before hundreds of other people did. It was nice to be together outside of public eye before making the big step. I would recommend it..."
(I will make a comment here that Kayla wasn't able to add her opinion because she just gave birth to beautiful twin boys last week!! Congratulations!)
Melissa from Melissa + Justin:
      I really enjoyed getting to see Justin before the ceremony. I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. I was really kind of an emotional wreck all morning before arriving at the church; I didn't know if I wanted to cry because I was happy, if I was going to laugh, be upset or just feel kind of sad- there was no calm that morning with everything to do and my constant mood-swings didn't help things much. Justin was on my mind all day- I just wanted to see him so badly ( I hadn't seen him or really gotten to talk to him for four days at that point!) I could hardly wait just to be with him even for only a moment. Just being able to see him for those few minutes doing pictures and for the few minutes we spent together right before the ceremony were defiantly the best few minutes of my day at that point. Seeing him relieved so much stress, as if all of a sudden a wave of serenity had washed over me. Seeing him allowed me to just become calm and be ready for what was about to happen- that's why I was so excited to see him- not only do I love him and missed him very much at that point, he puts me at an ease that no one else has ever been able to. I was so glad it was suggested we spend some time together directly before the ceremony. We just stared at one another in that little dressing room and without either one of us really having to say a word, it was as if we knew what one another was about to say because we both said at the same moment "I love you." That was all. It was then I knew we were ready to have the ceremony and it was a piece of cake from there, well, minus the few little mishaps :)
        I would suggest seeing your spouse beforehand to others. I know some people have the idea it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, but by the same token, I don't know that I could have made it through the day without it. I would have probably continued to be a wreck and then I wouldn't have enjoyed the day as much as I did. I'm not obviously going to have the same views as everyone else, but I would say that just seeing that familiar face, the one you can't wait to spend the rest of your life with, just takes the stress away and mentally and spiritually prepares you for what you are about to experience. It also let me know that he didn't forget when the wedding was and that he wasn't going to skip out on me like in the movies :) All in all, I don't think there is a thing that I would change about Saturday. It was beautiful outside, my loved ones were near me, I got to marry the love of my life, I had 2 wonderful photographers (which I can't thank you and Justin enough for taking our pictures!), the day couldn't have been much better!
And if these opinions aren't enough, take a peek at this blog entry for additional insight from the Great J*.