Andy’s already seen me in a wedding dress. While he was in a tux. And we posed for happy-couple-getting-married pictures. Let me back up. I didn’t want him to see me in a wedding dress—mine or otherwise—until that whole walking-down-the-aisle moment. When planning our venues and basic wedding day set-up, we went to great pains to try to figure out a timeline that would allow us to do pictures between the ceremony and reception, while not making our guests have to entertain themselves, all dressed up and in the summer heat, for three hours. It wasn’t about superstition. I didn’t think that Andy seeing me in my dress before the ceremony would result in bad luck or a terrible marriage. It was more about the “wow” factor. I want to preserve the gravity and the emotion of that ceremonial moment. I want his breath to be taken away by the sight of me in that white dress. I want him to cry, dammit. And in my mind, if he sees me for the first time during some contrived “first look,” by the time we get to the vows, it’ll be old news. He’ll already be used to the sight; he’ll already have had that “Oh my God, this is it; I get to marry this amazing-beautiful-smart girl today” (modesty) realization. No breath will be taken away. No tears will come.
But, alas, my dream moment just wasn’t in the cards. As hard as we tried, we could not figure out a scenario that included a photo break between the ceremony and reception that wasn’t a logistical nightmare for ourselves or our guests. So, we caved. We’re doing our ceremony and reception in the same place, with no time in between, so we’re doing our photos before the ceremony. I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with this, and I really am fine with it. It’ll be way more pleasant for our guests, we’ll be able to attend the cocktail hour ourselves, and it allows us to follow Jewish tradition and sign our Ketubah before saying our vows. (I’m Jewish; he’s not, but we’re incorporating some religious elements, and that’s one of them.)
But just as I was starting to not only become comfortable, but get genuinely excited about this plan, a new unexpected hitch (ha, ha) came up: Andy and I were asked to act as models for a styled wedding photo shoot by a local photographer and event designer. We said yes right away—I mean, come on, don’t we all want to embrace our inner Cara Delevignes at some point? It wasn’t until later on, as details started to filter in, that I realized, “Wait a minute: I’m going to be wearing a wedding dress for this. In front of Andy.”
I’ll be honest, I panicked a little bit. I was so excited to do the photo shoot, but legitimately nervous about having a wedding dress moment with my fiancé before our actual wedding. The paranoid thoughts flooded my mind. The same fear I had about taking photos before our real ceremony returned. And then there were new ones. “What if he likes the photo shoot dress better than my real dress?” “What if this takes away from his emotion not just during our ceremony, but during our first look, too?” “What if he has zero emotional reaction during the photo shoot? Do I want him to have one?” I expressed most of these fears to Andy, and he assured me I was being ridiculous and this experience would make our actual wedding no less special. I was appeased … kind of.
I went into the shoot with a mixed feelings and nerves. I was thrilled to participate, get out of my comfort zone, and work with some new people. And then I saw the dress I’d be wearing. It was gorgeous, and the fear that Andy would like it more than my own dress popped right back up. “Whatever,” I told myself. “This isn’t our actual wedding, it’ll be fun, and I’m still obsessed with my own dress, so he will be too, by proxy.” I slipped the dress on by myself, in the bathroom of the venue, and returned “on set” to little fanfare. Andy was being poked and prodded by the stylist when he saw me—in the same moment everyone else there saw me—and all we could do when we met eyes was laugh. There we were, all dressed up to get married, him seeing me in a big white dress, with a fake, half-ceremony-half-reception set up and a handful of other people buzzing about working on their tasks for the shoot.
We proceeded to pose for plenty of lovey-dovey, romantic, wedding-like photos, and the more shots that were taken, the more normal the whole thing became. There were a few moments when I thought I may have spotted a twinkle of emotion in Andy’s eyes, but I can’t be totally sure. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. It may seem silly that I’ve been so concerned about keeping my “look” under wraps to build up to the biggest moment of our relationship; and to be so fixated on making sure that moment is romantic, emotional, and momentous. But that’s what I want, and what I hope for. What I’ve realized through all of my fretting, though, is that no photo shoot, or dress, or styled moment will take away from that. It’ll be an extraordinary moment because it is extraordinary. After five years together, we’re saying vows in front of our friends and family and tying the damn knot. And that’s what will cause the tears to come.
Plus, the hands-on photo practice can only help us look our best for the real deal. And the pictures did turn out pretty great. Maybe we’ll sneak a few into our wedding album.
Original by Emma Sarran