Ben and I have talked about First Looks plenty of times before. But this time was a lot different.
This time, I woke up in the same room with the bride and was by her side all day long. I’d been with her for 3 days before her wedding day came, I’d seen her laugh, I’d seen her cry, I’d seen how she was with the man she was about to start calling her husband. And I’d been able to see how he cared for her, loved her, encouraged her, and help bring her peace.
So, even though I’d walked through over 50 weddings with other brides, this one was completely different. This bride was one of my best friends. I’d lived as her roommate in another country, I’d gone on countless trips with her, I’d cried on her shoulder plenty of times and we’d spent numerous hours on the phone and texting over the years. I was attached to this particular bride unlike any other bride I’ve walked through a wedding day with.
They had decided long before that they wanted to see each other before the ceremony. I’d like to think I had some influence on that decision *wink wink* but the bottom line was they knew that it would be so beneficial and completely worth it to have that time, just the two of them, before the day went into full swing.
Like I said, I was with Arica for several days before the wedding so I knew how ready she was to become Chris’s wife! And no matter how much preparation you accomplish before the week leading up to your wedding day, that week is just stressful… if for nothing other than feeling the need to be the hostess as friends and family start coming into town!
The morning of October 4, we woke up, showered, and went to the salon with her mom, Mandy, and Denalyn (the other two bridesmaids). It was a relaxing morning as we took turns in the chair getting our hour tousled and teased and curled and piled on our heads. But as the clock kept ticking and the day kept going, it was as if everything inside of Arica continued to wind tightly together in anticipation of seeing her groom.
And I will never forget the moment that she walked away from us, three of her best friends, to go and see the man she was about to start calling her husband. I could barely see them from where I stood, but after being in that moment myself and watching countless other brides and grooms in that moment, my eyes welled with tears because I knew what was coming!
There is no moment on your wedding day as treasured as getting to see your husband for the first time on that day… not only getting to see him, but also getting to fall into his arms, whisper in each others’ ears, and soak each other in before everyone else sees you.
I watched her walk away full of nervous energy and a few tears in her eyes and I watched her walk back to us with A-L-L of that gone and a huge smile on her face. It was as if those 30 minutes with Chris helped rid her of everything that had gotten to her and caused any kind of stress over the last several weeks and maybe even months.
And from that moment on, she was our Arica again! The rest of the day – all of it – was a breeze. And she must have told us a dozen times that seeing Chris before the ceremony was the best thing they ever could have done. Her nerves were gone, she was relaxed, she was able to fully be excited, and she was able to spend the majority of her wedding day with her husband!
There’s nothing in this world that makes you feel more helpless than NOT being able to help someone when things aren’t perfect. But all morning, I knew that things would get better the moment she saw him; the moment he was able to lay eyes on her – his beautiful bride! – soak her in, spend time with just her, and pray with her…
Yes, I love when my couples see each other before the ceremony for so many reasons. And at this point in my wedding photography career, I know what works and what doesn’t. And for those reasons, I encourage ALL of my couples to take the chance to have that half hour to themselves with no one else around (aside from our cameras!) so that they can soak in exactly what this day is.
But after watching all of that unfold without a camera in front of my eye, after watching my best friend transform from a beautiful bride into a radiantly beaming bride, I’m more convinced than ever that a First Look is worth more than any tradition or expectation for a wedding day.
Besides, you don’t get photos like this when you’ve just walked down the aisle…
Elle Danielle was so amazing and I can’t wait to see what else she captured that day!