A wedding ceremony and reception can be a stressful time for many couples. While they are filled with the excitement of their future life together, it’s often hard for them to share a few precious moments of solitude during the hectic pace of the big day. While many couples would enjoy a few moments of quiet reflection, instead, they find themselves being congratulated by countless well-wishers, shaking hands, receiving hugs, greeting out-of-town guests, posing for countless pictures and dancing until they nearly collapse with the exhaustion of it all.
To lessen the stress level, and provide the couple with a memorable event of their very own, I offer my couples the option of a “First Look” prior to the actual wedding ceremony.
For the “First Look,” I arrange a secluded location where the couple will see each other for the ‘first time,’ making certain the three of us are completely alone for this special event. Using a long lens enables me to shoot from a distance, so the couple doesn’t feel the presence of a hovering photographer.
While I can’t fully describe the emotion and intimacy involved when the couple chooses a “First Look” photo session, perhaps you can get an idea of how it worked with Allison and Garrett.
Allison & Garrett
Do you remember your first love? The way your heartbeat fluttered when that ‘special someone’ walked into the room? The way you covered your notebook with hearts and swirls pledging your undying love to the boy with the dark hair and dreamy eyes? That kind of love often remains in our hearts and memories, and for most, a special part of our past.
For Allison and Garrett, the special love they had in junior high has never ended.
As Allison describes it, “He was my very first boyfriend and we were the best of friends.”
Even at a young age, the couple couldn’t imagine a life without each other. They set goals for themselves, and managed to avoid the peer pressures typical of teenage years. Although they had their ups and downs, they managed to make it through high school together, and each went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degrees.
For a couple that has experienced nearly everything together, I couldn’t help but wonder how special a “First Look” could be. After all, nearly every ‘first’ in their life, they had experienced together – first date, first prom, first dance, first Valentine – you name it.
I couldn’t have been more stunned as I witnessed this couple’s “First Look.”
Despite a photography session held in the full noon sun, which every photographer secretly dreads, we found enough shade to make the session read like a fairy tale. Allison was positioned alone at the edge of a meadow on the Boone Hall Plantation and told that Garrett would walk toward her from a position behind me. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and waited. I could see the nervousness in her hand, as her fingers gently trembled.
Unbeknownst to Allison, Garrett was slowing walking toward her from his position in the woods behind her. His face was beaming as he approached her, and gently touched her shoulder. The look on Allison’s face as she turned to see him was priceless. Alone with their thoughts and feelings, each touched the other. He twirled her around and watched as her dress gently flowed around her. Then, he touched her face with tears in his eyes. She looked up at him, and I watched his fingertips brush away the tears from her eyes. The whole experience was magical, and truly a “First Look.”
Even with that special “First Look,” I again witnessed their next special moment as the couple married aboard the Carolina Girl yacht in Charleston, SC. Again, the lighting was a challenge, as the sun was going down, the rays casting a glare from the ocean, and the yacht gently dipped with the current.
I couldn’t help but think this couple’s life ahead would be filled with many more “First Looks,” as enduring as life itself.
“She was my dream. She made me who I am, and holding her in my arms was more natural to me than my own heartbeat. I think about her all the time. Even now, when I’m sitting here, I think about her. There could never have been another.” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook