Today I'm introducing one of my 2016 brides, Kayla, whose wedding at Maymont in October was one of my favorites! We chatted about having a first look and she told me it wasn't something she wanted - but after considering who she was marrying, she changed her mind. This is such a sweet story and I'm so glad she is sharing it with us today!
Josh and I met in the spring of 2014 on Match.com. I think that’s an important place to start, not as an advertisement (though obviously I have no complaints about my results there) but because where and how we met has a lot to do with the kind of people we both are. Online dating is a great way for shy, nervous introverts to meet and get to know each other before having to face the pressures of interacting with a stranger in real life.
But where I warm up almost immediately after meeting someone I like, Josh stays pretty shy. He is funny, thoughtful, caring, interesting, and extremely knowledgeable about dozens of topics, and probably the smartest person I know, but he is much more introverted than I am. And where I would love to tell you a million things about myself, Josh is more hesitant with his personality, his thoughts, and his feelings. Learning to balance my talkative, overshare nature with his much more private one has been one of the great joys and challenges of our relationship. Nothing challenges those differences more than a wedding.
When we talked about getting engaged our original plan was to have a backyard wedding - him in jeans, me in a dress I bought online, only our immediate family. This plan collapsed immediately. By the time we got to our wedding day, we had 100 guests. Throughout it all, Josh was my rock. I may have picked every detail of the wedding, but it was because his answer was always “whatever makes you happy.” He put in hours of work to make those details happen. He listened, comforted, reasoned with me, and was always there to help even as the wedding became The Wedding: An Actual Big Wedding.
The one thing I never had to think about was whether or not we were doing a first look. It was the one part of my wedding vision that never changed: I hated the idea of a first look. I always told people if they wanted a first look, that I understood why, and I saw the benefits, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I had imagined that moment he saw me for the first time a thousand times in my mind, before I even knew who “he” was, and it was always, always, as I walked down the aisle. This was so important to me. I never, not once, questioned it as we were planning the wedding. I did once ask Josh what he thought, but of course his answer was “Whatever makes you happy.”
In the weeks before the wedding when Maria asked me to confirm those details with her, one of the things she asked about was the first look- were we doing one? I explained to her that no, that we would be seeing each other for the first time at our ceremony, that I had dreamed of that moment, that this was extremely important to me. But as I typed out my response, for the first time I really thought about what that would mean for who I was marrying, the person named Josh, and not the Groom in My Wedding. After months and months of consulting him on the details, it occurred to me I had not once thought about him on this issue. And suddenly I found myself asking- was seeing me on our wedding day for the first time in front of everyone what was best for my relationship, or just for my fantasy of a wedding? Josh had wanted a small wedding, but we were having 100 people. Josh was wearing a suit and tie when he wanted to wear jeans. Josh had driven me to every craft store and nearly every appointment. He hadn’t complained. I knew Josh would do this for me too. But I didn’t want him to anymore.
I found myself filled with emotion. For a second, I let myself grieve for that moment I had imagined in my head so many times as a little girl- turning the corner down the aisle and seeing my husband for the first time, a husband who had no face and no name and that I had made up in my head. And I changed that moment in my imagination. Because I knew, when I stopped to think about my upcoming marriage and not just my upcoming wedding, that it was my turn to do what would make Josh happy, instead of the other way around. And I knew that the shy, introverted person I loved, who prefers to keep his emotions behind closed doors, would want the first moment we saw each other on the day we were going to become husband and wife to be between just the two of us. There had been so many compelling arguments to having a first look that I had no interest in, but this was the one that counted- that the vision in my head was less important than what was right for the person I wanted standing beside me.
When we had the first look on the day of our wedding, in the middle of non stop rain, I knew I had made the right choice. Seeing him, standing there waiting for me, was everything those visions of my wedding could never be- real, and true. Here was the man I was lucky enough to soon call my husband. We had that moment together, just the two of us (well, and our photographers.) He held my hand, we hugged, we cried. And then we went back to our wedding party. It was the perfect grounding moment in a whirlwind day full of a hundred people we cared about- the moment that reminded me our marriage, first and foremost, was going to be about each other.