Finding Small, Private Moments in the Big Day

Before her July wedding, Emily Babbitt had a lot on her plate.

Not only had she just graduated from college, but she and her soon-to-be-husband, Josiah, had just started new jobs and were beginning to settle into their new life in Lynchburg.

Through all those life changes, Babbitt had done most of the planning for their wedding herself. On the morning of her wedding, she couldn’t help but stress over the final details.

But that stress quickly faded away the moment that she felt Josiah tap on her shoulder during their first look before the ceremony. “It was just a reset,” she said. “It gave me a moment to breathe and just remember what this whole day was about.”

On a day that’s supposed to be about starting a new life together, many brides and grooms struggle to find time to connect with one another. And more vendors are noticing this fast-paced wedding day frenzy, causing them to prioritize intimate moments into the couple’s big day to help them slow down and take it all in.

With more than two decades of wedding and event planning between them, Schuyler Somers and Katie Lester, who run A Little Party Events in Lynchburg, said they work with their couples to come up with the perfect schedule to sneak in those moments.

“The wedding day is a whirlwind.

It really depends on what the priorities are for the couples and what they see as important,” Somers said.

Something like the first look is a popular go-to for most couples; they set aside a time to see one another before the ceremony and out of sight from their bridal party, family, or guests.

Local photographer RJ Goodwin said not only is this a great way to get portrait shots of the bride and groom, but it’s also a way for them to loosen up. “The first look is a very private moment,” Goodwin said. “Usually it’s just me, a second shooter, and the couple. I’ve just seen all the stress float away from couples who choose to do a first look. There’s a notable difference.”

“It’s those moments together that are going to matter in the end,” Goodwin added. “You’re not going to remember if a centerpiece was off or if a napkin wasn’t folded right.”

The first look doesn’t always have to be visual. Somers said couples who are more traditional do a “no peek” first look where they may not see each other, but have a chance to talk before walking down the aisle. “We’ve seen couples read notes that they’ve written for one another or take a chance to pray together,” she said.

One thing that Somers and Lester suggest to their brides is to pause before they walk down the aisle. “When the doors open and we quickly fluff the dress, we tell our brides to breathe and pause before taking a step,” Lester said. “We tell them to look at their groom, the room, their guests, and really soak it in.”

Babbitt said that was advice she received about her ceremony. “Our officiant had us stop and turn to face our guests during the ceremony and really take a look around,” she said. “That was a really special moment for Josiah and me. It gave us a chance to realize that these people won’t be in the same room like this again.”

Another great way to create more intimacy for couples is a holding space, which Somers said is a Jewish tradition.

“We usher them into a space or a room for 10 to 15 minutes where they can process what just happened,” she said. “Usually we have a plate of appetizers for them or bring in the wedding party to celebrate with them. It’s a good time to reset before family portraits.”

For former Lynchburg photographer Victoria Holbert, who recently got married in Alabama, she said they chose vendors who had the mindset to make private moments an important part of their day. “Right up front, I was very specific about what I wanted from my vendors and I was picky about who I chose,” she said.

Her wedding planner made sure that Holbert and her husband, Chase, stepped away from everything after their ceremony. “She said, ‘why don’t you take 10 minutes and just chat’,” Holbert said. “It was honestly a great way to catch up without worrying about photos.”

She added that she and Chase also had a first look where they read each other their own vows, rather than during the ceremony. “It was a really private moment for us,” Holbert said. “Traditionally during the ceremony, you’re just repeating words back to one another. But this was a chance where we could make it about one another. We both sobbed because it was so personal and special.”

Making time for more private moments is something that she incorporates into her photography business in New Bern, NC, where she now lives, noting that it does make the couples more relaxed. “Weddings are a big party, but when you look at it, many brides and grooms see it as a performance, too,” Holbert said. “You have to remember what’s really important at the end of the day.”

A new trend that has recently been a go-to for couples is a private last dance. While most ceremonies have a last dance with their guests before closing out the night, Somers said they now have couples requesting an intimate slow dance in their reception space. “While we’re setting up the guests for the send-off, they can enjoy a moment alone in their space where they can take a look around to end the night,” she said.

Goodwin also has noticed couples working this type of last dance into their schedules more and more. “It’s an incredible moment,” he said. “It also makes for great photographs that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

With the wedding behind her, Babbitt said she would encourage other brides to make it a priority to savor the day and those little moments in between—whether it’s with one another or mingling with their guests.

“Ultimately, it’s those small moments that are the most important,” she said.


By Tobi Walsh

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