Our First Look

Last October, I married the best guy in the entire world. Our wedding was a wild ride as we had to re-plan. It became clear that we would not be able to have the 200+ person wedding that we had been planning for over a year because of the pandemic. When we moved venues and cut our guest list from 200 to 20, I really started to worry that I wouldn’t love my own wedding. Everything had changed completely and I was devastated because I felt like we were giving up so much.  

Thankfully, we had a great support system and incredible wedding photographers who continued to try to make the very best of our wedding. Our photographers encouraged us to write each other letters that we would read on our wedding day, before we ever saw each other. They also encouraged us to do a “first look” which is a one-on-one photo session between the bride and groom where they see each other for the first time prior to the ceremony. My husband, Ryan, and I were not exactly sure we wanted to do a first look. After thinking about it, we decided to go for it. It was truly the best decision we made.  

On our wedding day, we spent the entire morning apart getting ready. I was surrounded by my bridesmaids as we did hair and makeup, and Ryan enjoyed the morning with his groomsmen. At 1p.m., my soon-to-be husband went out on the 9th floor balcony of the hotel we were staying in and waited for me to arrive. I went out to the balcony and sat in place with my wedding dress flowing as he turned around to see me for the first time. I can’t even begin to tell you how special that moment was for us. When he turned around, he immediately began to cry and I just lit up knowing that I was going to marry him in just a few hours.  

It was the first moment of my wedding day that I felt at ease. There was no one else around and nothing that needed to get done. It was just me and the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with. We kissed and he cried as I laughed. We then spent some peaceful moments overlooking the city from the balcony, just the two of us, stealing a moment of our busy day to be alone together.  

And just like that, the moment was gone and we were back to the hustle and bustle of pictures with our wedding party and traveling to the church (and then searching for our dog who ran away!) Two months later, in December, our photographer sent us our wedding pictures. My very favorite pictures are the ones from our first look because they perfectly capture the love that Ryan and I share.  

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.