10 Things I Learned from our Wedding Day

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

You get to marry your best friend!hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

To be truthful, I already knew that on our wedding day that I got to marry my best friend! But I wanted to start this blog post off by reminding us all that that is what our wedding day is truly about. I will talk about details and rain plans in this blog but I want us all to remember that when time for the ceremony rolls around, that man at the end of the aisle waiting for you is what it is all about. He’s up there for about ten minutes or so waiting for you to come to him and promise to each other.

For this short time, even though it will arguably be the longest ten minutes of his life, all of your friends and families eyes are on him! I think it is safe to say that he is not use to that, he’ll be breathing deeply, moving his feet, looking at the ground and at the sky. He’ll be glancing over at the entrance, way down the aisle, just trying to get his first glimpse of you because then he’ll be able to exhale. Just like the moment you realized that you were going to marry him, that he was your soulmate, and you exhaled, “There you are,” he will think the same at your ceremony when he finally sees you, “There she is.”

You won’t get to look at ALL of the details and decorations that you spent a year planning and making. hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

It’s true that I wanted a pretty wedding, what bride doesn’t? Being a wedding photographer I got countless questions about all of the bells and whistles of our wedding day! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved doing this but I was also concerned that I would do too much and thinking back to getting to marry your best friend I didn’t want my wedding profession and my love for pretty things to take away from that. I am happy to say that it never did!

I did do a lot of DIY, our tables numbers, the Mr & Mrs Sign above our sweetheart table and our enormous green ivy wall for our escort cards. In lieu of wedding favors we had Paperdolls Design, design a place setting for us where we told our family and friends that we made two donations in their honor. These two places were personal to both sides of our family and I loved implementing something heartfelt to them. We also named our signature drinks after our Mom’s because Mother’s day was the next day. My Mom’s was Kathy in Corolla and Cory’s Mom’s was Pat’s Day Off!

I will be honest with you though, besides our sweetheart table and the light installation above our bridal parties’ tables I did not see any of those details on our wedding day! I wanted to spend my time with all of our people and after our first look, I did walk by the tent and get a look at the two things previously mentioned,  but then it was time to hide inside while guests were arriving for our ceremony.

Even though I did not get to see all of our details come together in detail, our family and friends said a lot of nice things about them. My point to this is that – details are important to an extent. I choose to pick outdoorsy elements and a few things that were important to me, trying to say true to everything that we both liked. I believe that it matched our garden wedding and outdoor wedding, because we love to be outdoors! But I did not get to see everything because I kept thinking back to – You get to marry your best friend – and then the importance of checking all of the details faded away. This allowed me to spend so much quality time with our family and friends and of course my HUSBAND!

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography stage right lighting

For me, being THE BRIDE was interesting.hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

I LOVED being the bride on our wedding day because that is what it was, OUR wedding day! However, I am use to being behind the camera, photographing the brides in all of these moments. That is probably why I love the photographs that I am looking away or looking at Cory the most! I also couldn’t take my eyes off of him! 😉

I have told a lot of people that I thought I could relate to my brides very well before and that I knew what they were thinking or feeling. Now being a bride myself, I realized that there is so much more that was going on in their mind during this time in their lives that only now can I truly relate to them. This has 100% made me a better wedding photographer.

Rain plans and more rain plans.hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

Our wedding was the week of THE RAIN! Do you remember that week in May? It rained for four days, with the day before our wedding consisting of torrential downpours, and the pictures I got from our outdoor dance floor… Well lets just say it looked like our guests would be doing more swimming than dancing.

We knew this risk when we decided to have our entire wedding outside, because like I said before we love being outdoors. As a bride, I didn’t expect it to call for a complete washout three days before. I kept trying to think like a photographer, and between my Mom and I we must have bought thirty clear and white umbrellas. My wedding planner, Jamie Leigh Events, had me, Distinctive Event Rentals and Lil from the Hermitage on speed dial for the entire week trying to create plans.

We did not just have Plan B, I think by Friday we had plans A-D! This was mainly because of me! 😉 I like to think that I was calm and rational, the rain actually did not bother me. As a photographer, I know to be flexible, that there will be a break in the rain and we will get our portraits outside! However, I did let Jamie know that with all of our brainstorming that if twenty minutes before our ceremony it wasn’t raining than we would get married under THE TREE! We texted and talked about the ceremony site(s) and our ceremony location became known majestically as, THE TREE! (You could say I have a thing for trees! Cory and I loved this tree, we had our first kiss on the lawn of these gardens not to far from this tree. I have been know to carry on conversations about trees and bond with my grooms that I photograph over chats about the Magnolia Trees they planted in their yard. I love trees!)

With that said, we had plans for the ceremony to be under another tent we ordered. We had to order a tent for the bar, when it was suppose to be under a Magnolia Tree, and we got a tent for the dance floor, but with all of the backup plans in place I still did not want to give up on THE TREE! The morning of our wedding day I got a text from Jamie, “Rain is clearing at 10am… You’re getting married under THE TREE!” This makes me laugh now, but I just love that she took on the importance to us about our ceremony site and went above and beyond to make our original dream come true!

With that said I learned that rain plans and more rain plans are important, we wanted our guests to enjoy their time! We didn’t want the chance of them being soaked and cold, but we still didn’t give up hope that our original plan could work out. Which it did, so I hope that if you are planning an outdoor wedding, stay true to yourselves. Plan your back up plans if you have too, but don’t be afraid to plan them and then not use them!

When you proceed to smash cake on your 6’3″ Husband’s face, it will go up his nose because of your angle!hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

I am 5’4″ and Cory is 6’3″! I have photographed a lot of cake smashes in my day and I knew that I wanted to smash this cake in Cory’s face long before our wedding day! We have so much fun together, that I thought he would do the same to me! But of course, Cory politely fed me a piece of cake and I smashed cake all over him! I don’t believe he even tasted the cake! With my height though, I started to smash the cake at his mouth but I was at an upward angle and I ended up shoving it all into his nose! To this day, I am still apologizing!

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

If you’re like me, then you’ll cry more with your Dad than your Husband on your wedding day. hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

Don’t worry, my tears came later with my husband. The next day we sat on our back porch with a Vienna Lager in hand and we toasted to us. We reminisced about our wedding day the day before, talked about the funny stories we heard earlier that day from our friends and family that went to a cookout for us. We talked about us and then we talked about my brother and we both cried together.

As for my Dad and I – I cried when he saw me in my wedding dress, when we looked at each other right before he walked me down the aisle and of course during our Father/Daughter Dance. Our song is “Because You are Who You Are,” by K.S. Rhoads. I decided last second to hold my Dad’s hand, intertwining all of our fingers, as he walked me down the aisle instead of linking arms. I just felt called to hold his hand completely instead. I can’t really explain it, but it just felt right to do that. I looked at him when he was walking me down the aisle and I cried a little.

During our Father/Daughter dance he whispered in my ear, and those are things that I will never forget that he said to me. I have so much love for my Dad and, it came to a head all day long from his little girl!

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photographyThis is a celebration for you two as much as it is for your two families.hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

Thinking back to us donating to two organizations meaningful to both sides of our family, I also believe that your wedding day is a celebration for you two as much as it is for your two families. Cory’s family hadn’t all been together for several days like that for years before our wedding, and I met most of them that week!

There were a couple of family reunions within our wedding week going on and I loved it! When Cory and I talked on our back porch that Sunday evening, we also talked about our family and friends. During this celebration of our marriage we both agreed that we felt like the two most loved people on earth that day. Not only from our love for each other, but the love and happiness that all of our family and friends were exuding for us!

Wedding Planners do so MUCH WORK!hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

I wrote little bit above about Jamie from Jamie Leigh Events and all that she did for us with rain plans and more rain plans, but I realized from a bride’s point of view just how much work wedding planners do! I knew before that they are some of the most hard working women that I know but as a bride I realized it even more!

She kept me in the loop and asked me my opinion about all of the rain plans, but she was the one who contacted all of the vendors to get them in the loop. She brainstormed with me on all of the possible scenarios that we could do, and put up with me when I didn’t want to give up on the ceremony under the tree! I believe that she was at our wedding venue for probably over twelve hours that day, and she was newly pregnant. I got to know on our wedding day, and that was special because I found that she was pregnant with her first baby on her wedding day! I imagine that being on your feet working for twelve plus hours and being pregnant is not the easiest thing in the world to do!

Before, I always recommended couples to hire a wedding planner or day of coordinator but now going through all of our wedding planning and our wedding day, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Run don’t walk to find the perfect wedding planner for yourself! 

You will remember your wedding day in bits and pieces, clips, moments and phrases. That’s why photographers are so important.hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

A couple weeks before our wedding day, I cried to Cory as I told him in broken sentences and fragments that I wanted to remember every single moment. I wanted to talk to everyone and give each person quality time. I wanted quality time with him. I wanted to remember the way he looked at me, his laugh, his smile and his crystal blue eyes. I pictured his hands and my hands, holding each other’s at our ceremony and I wanted to remember that very moment, long before it actually took place. I did not want to forget anything and this was probably the only part about wedding planning and our wedding day that I would say that I was stressed out about.

Through my tears and irrational, and probably comical, explanation about this to him he hugged me and said, “That is because you are personable and a good person but that’s just not possible… to remember every single thing,” and he placed his hand on my head and pulled it into his chest. After I got the confirmation that it was impossible to remember every single second of our wedding and I got to say it out loud I was fine!

I wanted to tell you that you will remember your wedding day in clips and moments and that is okay! It will be the best day of your life and it will be memorable, but with a combination of adrenaline, excitement, all eyes on you, countless people to greet and talk to too, and moments to be present in, every second won’t be remembered. That is why reminiscing with your husband for years to come is so much fun. That is why investing in a talented and heartfelt wedding photographer is important. That is why recording your ceremony is important. Try not to worry or put pressure on yourself, like I did. As your wedding photographer I will be there to wholeheartedly capture the moments that you want to be able to reminisce on and perhaps the moments that you will need to be reminded of.

My Favorite: You will have tunnel vision to your soulmate.hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

I can’t take credit for this – my Matron of Honor Nicole told me this – but as you take that walk down the aisle to your soulmate you will lock eyes on their’s and it will be tunnel vision to them. Everything else will fade away. His smile will expand out to his ears as you get closer and closer to him. You won’t notice your decor or your family and friends but you will notice him wiping away a tear and his best man patting him on the back. I believe that that is perfect! That is what you are suppose to notice while you are in front of all of your loved ones. I believe that is just how it should be!

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

In just two weeks we will be married for two months already! I wanted to share this last photograph to tell you that I believe in holding hands. Not the hand holding were you are delicately holding each other’s palms but I am talking about the hand holding that after you become Husband and Wife every time that you reach for his hand you feel his wedding ring in-between two of your fingers, pressing against your’s.

hermitage museum and gardens wedding jessica ryan photography

He had gotten use to the way your engagement ring felt between his hands but you are just getting use to the feel of his wedding band between your’s. Every time that it presses against your fingers, between your hand, you smile up at him and you jiggle your fingers around just to let him know that you know that it’s there. You can’t help but smile because it’s your hand that gets to hold his. It is your hand that gets to feel the promises you made to each other each time your hands intertwine. It is you that gets the reminder every time why you choose to hold hands and build this life together in the first place.

That is why I believe in intertwining every finger, touching every part of his hand that you can because no one else will ever hold your hand the way he does. No one else will have the wedding band that you placed onto his finger under a tree on a cool day in May, to press against yours amongst your intertwined fingers. No one else will have the wedding band that represents his vows and his promises that he made on your wedding day to only you.

These are the ten things that I learned from our Wedding day and I hope that it helps you plan yours and put your’s into perspective. I want to see your eyes light up as you talk about your soulmate so let’s chat about your wedding day. Say hello, by contacting me here! 

All of our wedding day photographs were photographed by Erika Mills Photography