Our Wedding: First Look and the Venue

Hey guys! Here’s the latest post in my wedding week series, about our first look — the moment Ken and I first saw each other on the wedding day! Read on for that moment and a look at the venue, or take a look at other posts in the wedding series, below.

Wedding Posts in this Series

Other Wedding Posts

After the most surreal cab ride of my life (imagine being escorted through your own city in a dress so big it takes up the whole backseat), our cab pulled up to the venue.

Ken and I chose a historic estate just outside of Leiden to get married in. It’s a small castle that was once owned by a famous scientist in our city; and, more importantly, it’s close to Ken’s parent’s house, so Ken and I used to go on walks there when we first started dating. The venue is beautiful, and we loved that it had a special meaning to us. The choice was easy! (To read more about why picked this venue, you can check out this wedding planning post.)

While my bridesmaids and I had been getting ready at the inn, Ken got ready at his parents’ house. He got to the venue a bit before I did so that the coordinators could make sure we didn’t see each other too soon. They brought us each to separate rooms so we could prepare for the first look.

Ken straightening his tie before the first look

Ken straightening his tie, and doing his best impression of a model from GQ

Unexpectedly, these unplanned photos are some of my favorites, because they make me feel like Ken is a prince awaiting his coronation.

Ken sitting in one of the venue's rooms before the first look

Ken patiently waiting to be king.

Me opening the blinds in one room

Me gazing out over a sea of our adoring subjects.

We ended up being a little ahead of schedule before the first look (or, so I was told — later we seemed to be running late again!), so I took the chance to have a private moment with each bridesmaid, to hug her, thank her, and tell her how much I loved her and how happy I was to have her be a part of this day. Go ahead and take a shot, because I cried again.

Then, it was showtime.

The First Look

The castle sits on a small body of water with a bridge behind it, and we decided to do the first look there. The coordinators brought Ken out there to wait for me, and when he was in place (all this went down with the precision and focus of a CIA operation), I walked out to see him.

Ken standing on the bridge waiting for me

That tiny figure on the bridge is Ken waiting for me!

With his back to the castle, he couldn’t see me as I came out; but I could see him up in the distance.

Me clasping my hand to my mouth at seeing Ken in the distance.

When we got to the bridge, I touched Ken’s arm and we finally got to see each other in all our wedding finery!

Me touching Ken's arm

Ken turning to see me

Ken and me holding each other on the bridge

Although one of the coordinators was nearby, and Shannon was taking photos, it really felt like he and I were the only people in the world. I had wondered how it would feel for Ken and me to see each other like this for the first time. I thought we might be giddy or nervous, but instead, it felt like something had clicked into place. We were both so happy, and with him there I felt the jitters I’d had in the car ride over vanish. We were together, and the rest didn’t matter.

Us holding each other on the bridge, with the castle in the background

Ken and me kissing

We kissed, we laughed, we cried. (Okay, okay, I cried. Get ready to read that 100 times this week!) It could have been five minutes or a half-hour; I really have no idea. We were in our own little world for just a few minutes. When we were ready, Shannon brought us over to the lawn for couple’s portraits, and photos with the family before the ceremony.

Us standing across from each other, with the castle behind us

We actually got really lucky with the weather; this was right around noon, and if the sun had been out, it would have been way too harsh to take photos outside! It stayed cloudy until the ceremony started, and then the sun came out for the rest of the day — it couldn’t have worked out any better.

Family and bridesmaids photos a while, and by the time we were done, it was almost time for guests to arrive. To make sure we didn’t run into guests before the ceremony, Ken, the bridesmaids, our pastor, and I went into a room to rest and say a group prayer together before the ceremony began.

Ken and me with my six bridesmaids

Ken and me with my six bridesmaids. To see how I asked them to be my bridesmaids, read my bridesmaids proposal!

Shannon, who took more than 5,000 photos this day (!!) asked if I wanted her to take pictures during our group prayer. I’ve seen photos of bridesmaids praying over the bride before and thought them beautiful; but it didn’t feel right in that moment to photograph something that felt sacred. Instead, Shannon put down her camera and prayed with us.

Having Shannon as our photographer was wonderful, because she’s also one of my very close friends. She is an incredible friend and person; Ken and I jokingly referred to her as the “MVP of our wedding” that day. But one of the downsides of having a best friend as your wedding photographer is that they’re working through the wedding, which doesn’t give them the chance to be fully present as a guest. When I glanced over during the prayer and saw Shannon praying with tears streaming down her face, I was so grateful for her presence on this day, and so glad to have this one moment where she could be fully present with us.

Me with my fellow Wellesley alums, including Shannon

This photo features all the Wellesley graduates at the wedding, including Shannon on the far left. I’m so glad to have had her be such an integral part of this day.

After we were done praying, we took a few more minutes to rest, drink water, and (for me and my dad), practice our walk down the aisle. But within a few minutes, it was time to get up, walk into the ceremony room, and say our vows.

Want to keep following along? Check back tomorrow for my post on the wedding ceremony!

Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

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