I've heard it said many times. Blog posts like... "Ten Reasons Why a Reveal is a 'Must Have'" & "5 REASONS TO SEE THE BRIDE BEFORE THE CEREMONY" & ECT!
Many brides are even convinced that they have to do a reveal if they want to have great photos. Many brides think this is just the only option to making their day relaxed and easy going for photos. How can you get great photos if the first time the groom sees you is walking down the aisle? Brides ask, "I've been to weddings with no reveal. Won't it be really difficult to try and squeeze in taking photos after the ceremony and before the reception?"
Your day is going to look differently than your best friend's big day.
When a groom sees his bride walking down the aisle, dressed up in a white dress & ready to commit her life to him, it's emotional. It's beautiful!
Brides, you don't need to have a first look. This is the day you are getting married, you don't have to follow the reveal rule. In this photo above, the groom was first seeing his lovely bride in front of all of his friends and family. She appeared in front of him, walking gracefully down the aisle. His face on the left was a face I've never seen him make. He was in awe of his lovely bride. On the right, he takes her hands and pulls her in to him. All of this to say, this day was one of the easiest I've ever photographed. No reveal.
Right after the ceremony we shot some family shots among the almond trees. The guests went to cocktail hour and we finished up some photos of the wedding party within 45 minutes. It was smooth sailing for this intimate gathering. Both ceremony and reception were held on the grounds of a private estate. In this situation it was great to skip the reveal.
Now to take the side of doing a reveal...
Reveals are absolutely perfect if you have a giant wedding. If you are having 400+ people at your wedding you along with every family member and 3rd cousin you've never met plus a wedding party of 16, you may want to consider having a reveal. A reveal will help move things along quickly after the ceremony. Another reason to have a reveal is if you have personal gifts you'd like to give each other. Having the quiet and intimate time alone before being in front of everyone is the better option for some couples.
This wedding above was perfect for a reveal. Their day was smooth sailing with a reveal. With a big wedding party and big reception following the ceremony, it was the best absolute best option. We finished all images prior to the ceremony. After the ceremony we traveled about 30 minutes away to the reception venue, and it was memorable because we were all at ease having photos behind us.
What I've found most difficult is the light when we need to do the reveal. The reveal, in my opinion, should be the most stunning part of the day. If it is high noon (aka 10am to 2pm) and we are shooting your reveal outside, it won't be the most magical light for the photos. We can make it appear lovely, but I don't recommend it. :) I should say... if it is winter the light is different. Those hours aren't the worst. But for most of the year, we try and avoid high noon. When shooting the reveal outdoors, I recommend morning or late afternoon lighting. If neither are an option, we look for shade.
Reveal or no reveal, always always always remember your day should be at ease. I love being flexible and going with whatever the day throws at us. I think that is the most important thing to remember. However things end up going, you should feel happy and excited about your day!