Happy Independence Day!May your day be filled with chlorine and grill marks and explosives, and a patriotic spirit.
On Monday, we announced the winner of the First Sight canvas contest on the McG Facebook page. Choosing a winner took hours and hours of reading (and sniffling)… we are so amazed at the absolutely fantastic entries we received. I don’t know what I was expecting with this contest, but it wasn’t a deluge of amazing, heart-felt, detailed essays about the experience. It does our hearts good to know that we have even a small hand in helping create this beautiful moment for our clients!
So many of the entries were especially beautiful, and I wanted to take time to highlight a few of them here. We’re working on a new page for our website where there will be more pictures and excerpts from these essays, to help explain the process to new brides & grooms. I wish we had unlimited time and space so I could share them all, but that might break my already-considerable record for “Longest Blog Post Ever”. Please know that even if we don’t include your words in this blog, it meant the WORLD to us that you took the time to write and send them to us. There’s not a single entry that didn’t emotionally affect us, and we’re so grateful for all the participation we received.
Lots of people wrote about the practicality of it all… that it helped their day flow smoother, and was nice because guests weren’t waiting on them to complete pictures after the ceremony. People wrote about how it soothed their nerves, and just “made sense” for them.
Of course, due to contest rules, there had to be one winner. And while it came down to four entries that just melted our hearts, ultimately, that winner just had to be Mr. Rob Kuhns…
My wifey, Liesa, knew without a doubt the First Sight would be one of our most cherished memories of May 20, 2012. I, on the other hand, was skeptical – leading all the way up to the moment my best friend/love of my life tapped me on the shoulder in her wedding dress. As soon as I turned around, any minor reservations I may have had about breaking tradition, or ignoring superstitions (which a lifetime of baseball and baseball fandom would tell you to heed), were all at once smothered by just one emotion. Pure elation.
Leading up to that moment, I had been trying to ‘stay cool’ (and failing miserably). Yes, it was moderately warm outside. But no, that’s not what I mean. Mack snapped a few pictures at the chapel where the groomsmen and I were waiting, and left to retrieve Liesa and Chelsea, but not before telling me he’d be back in just a few minutes to get started. The First Sight. The first time I get to see Liesa, my bride, on our wedding day. I’m her groom. WHAT?? How the heck did I get so lucky? All of the questions I had that day flooded my mind. How has the day been for her so far? Did I forget to bring anything? Does my attire live up to her expectations? What do I need to make sure I do to make this the best day of her life? Did I cut my hair appropriately? Should I have gone with the mohawk instead? I still haven’t asked the wife, but I’m pretty sure I made the right choice: no mohawk. Mack came back after those few minutes (which literally felt like hours), and off we went to see my bride.
And then her hand on my shoulder. I mentioned pure elation earlier, but that may not even cut it. This was a feeling I thoroughly believe I would have had a tough time harnessing had I first seen Liesa that day while she was walking down the aisle. That’s not to say our First Sight took the emotion out of our ceremony. Not in the slightest. Trust me, guests in attendance & McG’s pictures will prove that much. But think about how you felt when you first kissed your future wife/groom. How you felt when you became a couple. How you felt when you first exchanged the words “I love you.” How you felt the moment you got engaged. When she said “Yes.” Now, picture all of those emotions colliding and meshing into one. An ultimate natural high, and that’s what I was feeling. It was all I could do to hug her immediately.
My favorite McG picture from our First Sight captures this moment. The moment I got to see my wife on my wedding day, when we unashamedly hugged the living daylights out of each other for as long as we wanted (hands down, best hug ever, by the way). Because we weren’t standing in front of 200 people. We didn’t need to hold anything back. Any emotion, thought, feeling could be expressed freely. And why have it any other way on our wedding day? Arguably one of the biggest moments during one of the biggest days of our lives was shared just as it should be: with each other.
Should I pass out tissues now?? So beautiful, right?? Liesa is a lucky lady to have joined her heart to one as beautiful as Rob’s, and we are honored to have been a part of that wedding day. Congrats, you guys. I know you’ll enjoy the art in your new home.
Here are some of our favorite excerpts from other beautiful entries in the contest.Beware… lots of kissing pictures ahead! Seems like those are popular favorites!
Chelsea & Donovan’s First Sight is one of my favorites of all time… blogstalkers may remember their beautiful moment from last October, with the flags making a pathway in the park… Here’s what Chelsea had to say about that:
The idea for our first sight was actually Donovan’s. Donovan has always been very purposeful in pursuing me the way Christ pursues the Church. He wanted our first sight to be symbolic of our relationship and his continued pursuit.
Our First Sight was magic. I created flags that were placed in a pathway for Donovan to follow, to symbolize how God leads us to the man (or woman) that he has created for us. On the flags, I had written a love letter to my Groom. In true Donovan fashion, he took his time and read every one. I would have made a bee line straight to him. I kept peering over the bush to catch a glimpse of him. As soon as I saw the top of his head I started crying, of course. I turn to Chelsea and mouthed “I SEE HIM.” The anticipation was beautiful. I absolutely understand the desire to see your groom for the first time as you are walking down that aisle, but for us, this was perfect.
All of this to say, “Why a first sight?” Calm your nerves, beautiful portraits, uninterrupted time with your (almost) husband, lots of kisses, a portion of your wedding that is reserved for just you and your love, smoother wedding timeline, I could go on, but this is already pretty long . My advice: hire McG and then have a first sight. You will not regret it.
I love this entry about Jordan & Hannah’s First Sight, because I knew for a fact that the groom was against the idea in the beginning…
When Chelsea first presented the idea of the First Sight I wasn’t sold on the idea. Like most girls, I wanted to see the reaction on my grooms face when he saw me walk down the aisle. He is a very traditional man, something I love about him, and he was not to fond of the idea of seeing me before the actual ceremony. After further discussion and consideration, we decided to give it a try. Let me tell you, it’s the best decision we made, aside from hiring McGowan Images. I would assume most brides feel the same about their future husbands as I do. He is my rock, he makes things better, he calms my nerves just by seeing his face. And that is exactly what he did during our First Sight. He held me and kissed my forehand and without words, calmed my anxiousness of being the center of attention. I loved seeing his reaction to me in my white dress and loved being able to talk to him about it. I was still nervous that he would not have the same reaction when I came down the aisle, but I soon saw that to be a wasteful worry. Once the music started and the guest stood, my Love’s reaction was just as wonderful and special as it had been when we saw each other earlier. Plus, we got some rockin’ photos out of the deal!
Nadia’s was the first entry we received in this contest… homegirl didn’t waste any time at all! Her entry was also the longest.This sweet couple was so fantastic to us, and I love that she included this as the last two paragraphs of her essay…
We exchanged gifts and laughed together. We spent time looking at each other in silence and wrapping our arms around one another. Chelsea and Mack stayed their distance, snapped pictures, and even kept away family that wanted to take a peek at us. They were our protectors; protecting our moment to soak up one another. I will never forget when we walked down to a small chapel about a block away to take a few pictures. Chelsea was telling us where to put our hands and how to look at the camera. My future husband stole a kiss and Chelsea stopped. She stopped helping us and gave us one more second to be with each other. Chelsea and Mack, they get it. They get there is planning and stress and family and a thousand things on your mind. They also know, that this day should be cherished for what it is supposed to be; the joining of two people in love.
Without the first site, I would have still been nervous as I walked down to meet my groom but I wasn’t. I was uncharacteristically care free and calm. I owe every bit of that to McGowan Images. They helped me realize that there are more things to think about then what the magazines, planners and websites tell you. Sure I could talk about how the first site made for some amazing pictures and allowed the evening to run much more smoothly than I had ever imagined. For me though, it was about truly allowing ourselves time to enjoy our love for each other without anyone else around. For that unforgettable time, I can do nothing but thank Chelsea and Mack.
For Kendall & Al, the choice to have a First Sight was heavily contested by their families. But with a very camera-shy (and really, just shy in general) groom, they thought it was the best decision for them. I love that Al was comfortable enough to let his emotions show when they had their private moment together!
When I got about 10 feet from Albert, it hit me. I knew exactly why people had recommended a first sight. I got to see the deep breath right before I tapped him on the shoulder. When he first turned around, I got to see that little tear in his eye from his anticipation getting a bit overwhelming. And when he first saw me, I got to see his face light up and his smile grow. I could have never seen those things from my vantage point on my walk down the aisle. I would never have heard his heartbeat racing had I not gotten that first hug. What they say about your wedding being a whirlwind and that you won’t remember everything about your day is 100% true, but I guarantee one of the things I will remember for the rest of my life is the first thing Albert said to me on our wedding day during our first sight, something that Chelsea and Mack captured without knowing it. I asked, “Do you like it?” in regards to my dress. “Mhm, it’s pretty. I love it but I love you more.” That moment, something that really couldn’t have happened with the microphone on him in front of more than 100 people, made my decision to do the first sight the best decision I made during the whole wedding process.
Eryn & Nathan are a wholly nontraditional couple, and we loved that about their wedding. Eryn & I are a lot alike, and her First Sight experience rang very true to the way I’m sure I would have felt if I’d had this opportunity…
I always love the look on Nathan’s face when he loves how I look. And he definitely loved the way I looked on that day. Seeing his face and knowing he was relaxed for just a minute, put me at ease. And really made me feel confident! A confident bride is a gorgeous bride and that’s exactly how I felt all night. And I’m lucky enough that Chelsea and Mack caught that confidence on camera.
I look at this picture from our first sight almost daily just to remind myself how lucky I am to be married to my best friend and that he thinks I’m the sexist gal in the world.
That sassy look over the shoulder is one we see quite often… in fact, just last week, that moment gave us the bride’s favorite picture from the First Sight. Tarah & Matt are our most recent McG couple, and their moment was so joyful…
My favorite picture is the one where I turned around to show Matt the back of my dress and he is staring at my butt with this look that says, “My soon to be wife is hot!” I love it because there is no hiding his thoughts in this picture. It’s raw and true and something that I know only we will share together for the rest of our lives. As funny as it may be, I really think that that photo will serve as a reminder to us of our devotion and love for each other.
Meagan… my dear friend and someone that I thank God every day for sending us as a client years ago… is such a gifted writer. Her essay about the first time she saw Eric on their wedding day was so personal and poignant, even Mack teared up. At this point, the blog links back to Meg & Eric comprise a list that’s taller than the bride, but I never get tired of looking back at their wedding.
I’ve heard many people say it. “Our wedding day was such a blur!” “It went by so fast, I hardly remember a thing!” And you know what? I am sad for those people. Because I don’t remember our wedding day like that at all. I have perfect clarity of that day – that weekend, those hours that changed our lives. I am an acutely aware person, the type that remembers the brand of wine we drank on our third date, in a restaurant that allowed us to serve ourselves a perfect pinot noir (and therefore beginning my love affair with red wine). I remember, in frame-by-frame detail, the moment in which we shared our first kiss, nearly a decade ago. I remember the music that was playing, the lighting in the dark room, the bowl on the coffee table that contained a large gold football ring (which I thought was both humorous, and odd). My memories are often defined by the smallest details.
All this to say, it was of the upmost importance to me that I remember every possible moment of our wedding day. Our timeline for the day was created to maximize two things: the amount of time we would spend together, and the amount of time our photographers would have to capture all the important details we’d worked so hard to create. There was never any question of whether or not we would have a “first sight” before the ceremony.
Seeing Eric for the first time, back turned to me, in the lobby of the Ashton Hotel – is a moment I will never, ever forget. The elation, overwhelming emotion, and the privacy of those first few seconds – they’re irreplaceable in my memory. I was literally shaking in my stilettos as I approached him, tapping him lightly on the shoulder. He turned to me, and broke out in the biggest smile – we were suddenly long-lost lovers, childhood sweethearts, teenagers at their first dance, and an elderly couple with decades of time together under their belt. Just – so much. We spent half an hour together alone, laughing and talking about our day, both relieved and overjoyed that our wedding had finally come. The photos from that first sight are some of my favorites from the day; when it’s all said and done – when the vows have been said, and the cake has been cut – it’s just the two of you, alone, and starting your life together. I like to think that Eric and I made the best of our wedding day by starting it out as we would end it – just the two of us, in the quiet confines of a hotel lobby.
Oh gosh… really, there are so many more entries that are so fantastic. I’m worried that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings if I don’t share them all, and if I had more time, I absolutely would. Sarah said, “It was like two kids sneaking out at night to see each other before a big day at school.”, Bethe said, “It made the actual ceremony fun and easy because I felt like we were already in this together, on the same team, and had already enjoyed our private moment that didn’t include the 300 people sitting in the audience.”, and Jenna said, “When walking down the aisle that raw emotion (the one I was afraid wouldn’t be there) was even stronger than I thought it could have been.” So many beautiful essays, so little blog space.
I have to close with one more…
Keri & Patrick’s morning wedding was planned to be just like them. They wanted the day to reflect who they are from start to finish. But with a house full of people, sometimes it’s hard to keep the focus where it belongs. Patrick said the First Sight helped him do that:
Ours was a morning wedding, and aside from the waking up early, it was a great decision. Breakfast was our favorite meal (food was the first topic to be hammered out). I woke up earlier than expected in my hotel room, as many do for such an event, nervous and moving meticulously, as though things were cloudy and tasks required more effort. The groomsmen soon piled into the room, waiting for the time to come to see Keri for the much-anticipated ‘First Look’.
In hindsight, I am thankful for not moving to move as fast as the bridesmaids, but I became more anxious as time went on. Aside from the slow-building nervousness of the weekend, our timetable was starting to fall behind, and I wasn’t getting many updates. The four of us were making bad jokes, refolding our pocket squares (I am now a master), and wondering when to jump in the car for the fast ride to the venue. Several bewildering texts from the maid-of-honor later, the order was given: ‘Get over here now!’. Well, now plus the commute time, I guess.
Luckily, the commute was 3 minutes, and I was soon walking in the courtyard. I waited patiently. Then, perhaps, somewhere between checking my watch and looking at the flowering foliage, a little impatiently. But that’s about when it happened- I found my center again. I was rebalanced, just seconds after She tapped me on my shoulder.
This is what it meant to me. The first look was more about having a time to refocus on us, and that we made it to the final act. After two days of family and (now) in-laws pulling us across town and out of our routines, I found her again. And along the way, she happened to pick up a beautiful wedding dress and a team of photographers that captured me finding something that I felt like I may have drifted away from.
Once again, THANK YOU. Thank you to every single one of you who entered this contest. Thank you for more than just the time it took to write your essays… thank you for for inviting us into this private moment. Thank you for your faith in us, and your continued support of us. We feel like each of you are members of our family. In fact, I’m beginning to think that a big McG reunion party would kind of be the most fun in the world. Any takers?