Why You Should Do A First Look With Your Dad on Your Wedding Day

Why You Should Do A First Look With Your Dad on Your Wedding Day

I’m sure you’ve heard about couples who do a “first look.” You know, when the bride and groom choose to go against tradition and see each other before their wedding ceremony. Typically, it’s a private moment carved out in the hustle and bustle of the day for the groom to see his bride for the first time and have the wedding photographer capture his reaction.

My husband and I decided not to do a first look because I wanted him to see me in my dress for the first time walking down the aisle. I also had a little surprise planned for him  — I walked down the aisle to his favorite song.

However, I did do a first look with my dad, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable and precious moments of my wedding day.

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As a Motherless Daughter, How I Honored My Mom on My Wedding Day

As a Motherless Daughter, How I Honored My Mom on My Wedding Day

Eight years.

That is how long my mom has been gone. I was 19 — still a child — when she died in the early morning hours of July 27, 2009.

And when I say that her death was the defining moment of my young life, I mean it. There is not a day that passes that I don’t ask myself, “Would she be proud of me?”

That is a heavy, heavy weight to live under.

I have devoted many words on this blog to talking about losing my mom at a young age. Losing your mother before your life really begins changes you in ways that you don’t fully understand until you’re older and your life is more established.

For me, I realized that even though at 19 I felt grownup, 19 was, in fact, too young.

19 years was not enough time with my mom, and I learned what all motherless daughters come to know — the memories of times past aren’t what is most painful. What breaks your heart over and over is living through all the moments your mom won’t be there for — birthdays, college graduations, your wedding, the birth of your first child, etc.

That is why planning my wedding as a motherless daughter was awful at times. Your wedding and all of its chaotic planning and madness is just something your mom should be there for.

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My Asheville Bridal Portrait Session and The Special Meaning Behind These Photos

My Asheville Bridal Portrait Session and The Special Meaning Behind These Photos

Now that our wedding has come and gone, I can finally share some of the images from my mountaintop bridal portrait session in my hometown of Asheville, NC.

As I mentioned in my 20-day wedding update, I wanted these images to capture exactly who I am — Disney nerd, motherless daughter, mountain girl.

I asked a friend from college who is an Asheville-based photographer to help me achieve my vision, and she did an incredible job — even though the request was kind of last minute.

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Struggles from a Motherless Bride

Struggles from a Motherless Bride

He said, “I wish your mom were here.”

Me, too, dad. Me, too.

As the days push forward and my September wedding draws closer, I acknowledge that I am really struggling with my mom’s absence during this should-be happy time.

Wedding planning hasn’t been my thing, and I probably make everything about it 10-times more complicated than it has to be because that is who I am.

But, I think my lack of motivation to finish planning this major life event stems from the fact that my mom is not here to share this time with, and I wish more than anything that she could be.

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Counting my blessings

Wedding dress shopping day

Saturday was surreal, beautiful, and memorable thanks to the women in my life.

As a motherless daughter who is planning her own wedding, I have been dreading going wedding dress shopping for the past 5 months.

I had so much anxiety about the anticipation of missing my mom on this special day that I strategically planned to put off shopping for my dress as long as I could.

I was avoiding it so much that I even pulled out my planner at some point along the way and calculated the last month I could comfortably start shopping before the wedding.

However, when one of the premiere bridal shops in the Charlotte area announced they were going out of business and their entire inventory was heavily discounted, I knew I had to put my emotions aside and make an appointment to try on dresses.

So, I invited my two aunts and cousin down from Asheville to join my maid of honor, matron of honor, mother-in-law, and me on this adventure.

Then, I panicked.

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Becoming a Motherless Bride

Becoming a Motherless Bride

I am walking on unknown territory right now and have debated whether or not I should write down my thoughts about becoming a motherless bride. Not sharing my experiences, especially as a motherless daughter, goes against my foundation for starting “dammit, Hali,” though. So, here I am, trying my best to describe the pain of being a woman who is planning a wedding without her mom and put into words the rollercoaster of emotions I have already experienced.

Yes, this means that after 6 years together, Justin and I are finally planning a wedding. While I am excited to exchange vows in front of our family and friends and officially become his wife, the planning process to this point has been bittersweet and plagued with many emotional highs and lows. In the 2 months since we announced our wedding date and made it “Facebook official,” I have said out loud “I wish my mom could be here” more times than I have altogether in the 7 years since her passing.

When my mom died in July 2009 I was 19 and could not imagine myself getting married or having a wedding without her. Moms and wedding planning typically go together, and the fact that my mom was taken from me before I got to experience the joy — and frustration — of planning a wedding with her is cruel.

Fast forward 7 months to a cold February night when Justin and I met at a college party. I thought he was funny and kind; I’m not sure what his first impression was of me, and I don’t think I will ever ask. We exchanged phone numbers and quickly became friends before we made it official and started dating.

I wish I could say that I immediately knew Justin was the person I would marry, but for the first several months of our relationship I was very much determined to not get married. Then, at some point along the way, I looked at him and it became clear, this man is the one and I will marry him … someday.

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