incredible. gorgeous. amazing.

there was just so much to love about jessica and john’s fabulous wedding weekend. from her killer friday morning bridal session to their beautiful, emotion-filled rehearsal dinner, nearly every stop along the way to mr. and mrs. was somehow better than the one before. i’m overwhelmed with where to even start, so in true allison form i’ve made a list! these are some of my favorite details and ideas for future brides from jessica and john’s magical wedding weekend…

1. location, location, location…
the venue that a couple chooses for their wedding festivities is such a perfect reflection of who they are and can tell others a lot about their history and life together. for jessica and john, the choice of where to hold their wedding reception came easily as john’s parents own dothan’s the grand on foster, and it provided the perfect, gorgeous backdrop in which to celebrate with their guests.

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2. hello, darling…
if you’ve ever read a thing i’ve written, you know the first look is going to be at the top of my favorites list. the excitement was nearly tangible as i snuck jessica and john away to a quiet area for their first look, and the expressions on their faces speak volumes more than i ever could about the emotion wrapped up in such a sweet, intimate time of the day.

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3. stand with me…
large wedding parties require a little extra planning on a photographer’s part. there are more people to gather, more smiles to encourage, more eyes to capture open. but in the case of jessica and john’s bridesmaids and groomsmen, the more simply meant the merrier. they were fun, relaxed, and so agreeable to all my photography whims.

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4. sunrise, sunset…
you hear photographers talk about the golden hour for shooting when the light is soft and gorgeous as it starts to melt into the horizon. i schedule all of my bridal and engagement sessions to coincide with the golden hour but i don’t typically have that luxury on a wedding day (brides, ask your photographer for advice on shooting times…(s)he would love to help you plan in this regard!). so as we were preparing to move from the grand to the church for the ceremony, i caught sight of that telltale warmth settling in over the courtyard and jessica and john eagerly obliged my pleas for just five minutes. what followed were some of my favorite shots of the whole weekend…

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5. the other first look…
it doesn’t happen often that i have a couple who opts not to do a first look, but when it does, the reason i most often hear is that the bride and groom want that moment, that emotion that comes when they lock eyes with one another as she’s walking toward him down the aisle. now hear me when i say that it’s my right only to encourage, not demand. if a couple feels strongly about not seeing one another until their ceremony, i’m 100% on board and will fully support their decision. BUT, if the fear is that a first look will somehow diminish the emotion of the other big moment, please see these photographs of the first moments of jessica and john’s marriage ceremony as evidence to the contrary…

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6. a little something sweet…
i see a lot of cakes in my line of work. a lot. but the designs that jessica and john chose and debra west’s execution of those designs were simply flawless. and while i don’t care much for college football (gasp!), i have to say that this, my friends, is incredible…

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7. quick change artist…
i love love love what jessica did to change up her look between the ceremony and the reception. she added a more formal, beaded belt to her exquisite carriage house gown for the first half of the day and then changed it to a gorgeous blue ribbon and lace belt for the last. perfection!

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8. may i have this dance?
the father/daughter dance is a long-standing tradition included in nearly all weddings that i shoot. the groom has the first dance with his bride followed immediately by the father’s last dance with his once little girl. but jessica and her dad wowed the crowd with their fabulous spin on an old tradition. it started out like any other with the two of them talking and laughing together as the music swirled around them…

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but then…
they threw their hands up in feigned exasperation and they hit the stage for a killer duet of my girl.

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9. and speaking of killer music…
can i be completely transparent and honest here for a second? when jessica told me that her dad’s band was providing the reception entertainment, i really wasn’t quite sure what to expect. was this really the best place to apply a touch of DIY? after all, i’ve heard some really incredible bands and this one was going to have to aim really high to even come close. but much to my delight, k-jams is not only a collection of insanely talented musicians, but they kept the party going for hour after hour late into the night.

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10. final farewell…
the night had hardly begun to slow down but the time had come for jessica and john to say their goodbyes and leave amidst the flurry of a rice crispy send off. the beautiful day had led perfectly into a wonderful night, and their family and friends were thrilled to encourage jessica and john as they embarked on their journey as husband and wife.

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jessica and john, every single stop throughout your wedding weekend was exceptional, and i’m honored to have joined you in your preparation for and celebration of marriage. THANK YOU for having me along for the amazing ride!!

much appreciation to the following vendors who helped make the weekend so beautiful…
wedding venue: first united methodist church, dothan | reception venue: the grand on foster | bride’s gown: carriage house weddings | grooms’s and groomsmens’ tuxes: jos. a. bank | bridesmaids’ dresses: BHLDN | invitations: kyle fine stationery | catering: faye jacobs of pans ‘n petals | floral design: petal pushers | cake artist: debra west | linen rentals: david parker | reception entertainment: duets by jesse and jack (dinner) and k-jams (dancing) | videography: steve frank films | photography: allison lewis photography (with the one and only justin poland)

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3 Responses to jessica and john | the wedding

  1. Hugh Deese says:

    Thanks for posting…..we were so pleased to be a part of the celebration….awesome pix

  2. […] them again sometime down the road.  jessica and john were married last summer in one of the most beautiful and emotion-filled weekends of which i’ve ever been a part; therefore, as john’s brother and best man, chase had […]

  3. […] twice, in the past two years. jessica became the first givens daughter when she married john in a marvelous, gorgeous wedding in the summer of 2013.  what i didn’t know then, though, is that john’s younger […]

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