I am SO. PUMPED. for this post to be published! If you’ve been hanging out with me on social media, then you’ve probably seen me post some photos from the first wedding I’ve shot in a whole YEAR. The two newly weds are some sweet church friends of ours, Jason and Beverly. Their wedding was the most laid-back, authentic, and intimate wedding I have shot to date. It was so much fun to be part of their big day and such an honor to document it for them. Now I have the privilege to share it with you guys!
It truly couldn’t have been more perfect because the church was already decorated for Christmas (I was actually geeking over all the HUGE Christmas trees they had as decorations)! So with a few tiny added details, it looked beautiful! There were candles everywhere and fresh greenery (from Beverly’s backyard!), giving off super cozy and rustic vibes. This was a smaller event so the size combined with the cozy atmosphere made it feel more like a family reunion in a giant living rooms rather than an actual wedding.
The first big Kodak moment of the evening was when Jason and Bev did their first look. It was so, so sweet, you guys! I had been helping them dodge each other the past hour or so, with them yelling down the hall from other rooms, “WHERE ARE YOU?” Hahah! I’m smiling just thinking about it!
When everyone was ready, I had Jason face me while Bev tip-toped behind him. When she was close she said, “Okay, you can turn around” and Jason whirled around, flung his arms out at the sight of his beautiful bride and said, “Baby!” before giving her a big kiss.
Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of first looks before this moment. I wasn’t against them, but I always felt that they took away from the surprise of the groom seeing his bride as she walked down the aisle. As I move further away from traditional weddings, my mind is opened more and more to all you can actually do with a wedding how you can make it truly your own! It’s all a sweet surprise no matter how you go about it!
After the first look, we really just hung out for a bit with family until our pastor and his wife, along with another pastor at our church were ready to accompany Jason and Bev for their private vows. This was another new thing that I hadn’t even heard of before, but let me tell you that I am now 110% a fan! We all stepped into a tiny room towards the back of the church (with me hanging out in the car corners to give the couple as much space as possible) and they turn saying the special and oh so sweet vows they wrote for each other. Our pastors then took turns praying over then and it was so beautiful. If I had to choose a favorite part of that night, this moment would be it! I was smiling the entire time behind my camera, just soaking it all in.
Once the private vows were finished, we headed over to another room to begin the traditional ceremony for all the guests to be part of. Even with more people in a bigger room, the setting was still very intimate. The lights were dimmed and candles were lit with soft music playing as Bev’s father walked her down the aisle. Jason and Bev held hands almost the entire time, even before putting on their rings. The vows they exchanged this time were very simple and they lit a unity candle together, which turned into a funny moment when Jason’s candle wanted to act up. As it had been burning, it started to bend so putting it back in its holder turned to be a bit of a challenge.
This took me back to our wedding, where Chris bumped into the table holding our unity candle. We just stared at each other as the table rocked because we figured A) The table was going to tip over and we were going to set the place on fire or B) The wick of the unity candle was going to get wet (it was floating in a vase of water) and we wouldn’t be able to light it. Thankfully, neither happened and we were able to proceed with our ceremony, sans fire department.
Jason and Bev’s first kiss as husband and wife was perfect, just like everything else that evening. Alden, our pastor officiating the wedding, cracked on Jason for acting like he was going to jump the gun with the kiss. You know it’s a successful ceremony when the guests are smiling, laughing, and crying!
The Swinfords exited the ceremony and took a brief moment to themselves while Alden directed everyone to the atrium where the buffet was set up. I snuck a few sweet photos of Jason and Bev waiting to be introduced to the reception and they’re some of my favorites that I took out of the entire night! They entered the reception and people stood in there honor, clapping and smiling as the couple made their way to a table. Thus, the feast began!
The buffet was a bunch of southern comfort food like chicken tenders, macaroni, and BBQ sliders. I think Bev’s mom might have caught me staring at the arrangement because she told me to take a break and fix a plate – I didn’t argue.
I mentioned earlier that this felt more like a family reunion, but I truly don’t think there’s a better way to describe the atmosphere of that night! Even at the reception, people were all smiling and laughs as they sat around their tables. The people that weren’t sitting were up minding with others, sharing handshakes and hugs. I felt more part of the night than someone who was there to take photos (Side Note: That’s how it should feel, fellow photogs! Don’t make your job feel so transactional, be truly invested and part of your event!).
Last, but definitely not least, was the grand exit! It wasn’t anything flashy, but it was fun nonetheless! Everyone lined up on each side of the doors to make a narrow aisle and clapped as Jason and Bev walked quickly down the center. Jason had his truck pulled up to the front and he helped Bev hop in. They waved goodbye to everyone out of the window and jetted off. You could just see the happiness radiating from them! It was so sweet!
After the big duo left, everyone pitched in to rearrange furniture and tidy up for Sunday’s service. It was a big family working together and celebrating each other. That night was not only fun from as a photographer, but it was a reminder to me that family isn’t just blood. It’s very much Spirit, which is much thicker than blood if you ask me.
Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Swinford!!
P.S. If you want to see more heart throbbing photos, you can check out part of the Swinfords’ wedding gallery here!