1. Can we take our pictures together before the ceremony instead of after?
2. What happens if I totally lose it when I see her for the first time?
The first question is definitely not my call. That is entirely up to the couple with guidance from their photographer. Couples ask because of the superstition the groom should not see the bride in her dress before the wedding. I hope not many people honestly believe this has any impact on their future happiness. It's all about emotional impact these days.
There are advantages to taking pictures before the ceremony, especially if you have a late wedding, want outdoor photos, and will lose natural light.
Additionally, this is a time guests dread. Even if you have a cocktail hour during photos, this period of the festivities can be pretty boring. Post-ceremony picture taking is often fairly chaotic. Guests who want to take their own pictures or congratulate you tend to get in the way, the wedding party and family members wander off, and slipping schedules may raise stress levels. From a purely selfish perspective as an officiant, couples who have their portraits taken prior to the ceremony are generally dressed well in advance, so the odds of the wedding starting late decrease. I readily confess to whole-heartedly supporting couples who decide to take their formal portraits prior to the wedding. I see far more advantages to disadvantages. Except...
If you take pictures before the wedding, than you will not get a "first look" moment at the ceremony and I love that moment! However, this is not to say the groom will not be overcome with emotion by the occasion and tear up anyway. I have certainly seen that happen. Alternatively, even if the groom has not seen the bride before the wedding, there is no guarantee a first look moment is going to happen or happen in a way the photographer can easily get the shot. Plenty of grooms steel themselves precisely because they do fear they are going to totally lose it in a very public setting.
Oh, my answer to that second question is "Don't worry about it!" Everyone adores a groom overcome with emotion so don't give "totally losing it" a second thought. A good officiant will be able to guide you through it so you are able to fully participate in your own wedding. I certainly have not lost a groom yet.
I do want to note that the majority of the photos in the Buzz Feed piece are pre-ceremony photo session "first look" shots. Your photographer can orchestrate the timing of the first look, thereby increasing the odds there will be a fabulous picture of the groom's face when he sees his bride for the first time. Men are more likely to give themselves the freedom to express their emotional reaction in a private moment, so I am not surprised the Buzz Feed piece features so many pre-ceremony photographs.
Provided you begin at a reasonable time, pre-ceremony photo sessions are generally more leisurely and give you and the photographer more latitude with poses. If you are looking for a good way to bring down the anxiety level on your wedding day, this is a pretty good way to go about it. If you prefer a more traditional approach that is fine too. It's your day! As I'm fond of saying, weddings have superstitions and traditions, not rules.
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings