Laura Begley (left) worked with Phillis Fortney of Rainbow's End Floral to decide on flowers and to create her brooch bouquet.
Editor’s note: Laura Begley and Matthew Bledsoe are the winners of the Dream Wedding package — valued at $25,000 — and will be married on Sept. 14, 2013 at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. The Times-News will follow their wedding story throughout the year.
Laura Begley and Matthew Bledsoe have decided to buck tradition. The first time the couple sees one another will not be when Laura walks down the aisle to Matthew, but rather at a private and intimate setting, prior to their ceremony and away from all of the hustle and bustle of their big day.
Laura and Matthew have opted to let their wedding photographer shoot their “first look” before their actual wedding ceremony.
A first look is a new trend in wedding photography that is quickly gaining popularity. It is a moment staged and set up by a wedding photographer for the bride and bridegroom to see each other before the ceremony. The photographer then captures the couple’s reaction to seeing each other for the first time with no one else around.
Laura and Matthew are the winners of the Dream Wedding presented by the Kingsport Times-News and sponsored by Sophisticated Smiles by Angela Cameron, D.D.S., P.C. Since learning they were the lucky couple in October, the two have been meeting with some of the vendors who will help make their special day a reality.
Anna Hedges of Anna Hedges Photography will shoot Laura and Matthew’s wedding photos.
Laura says, during a recent meeting with Anna, Anna explained to the couple the origination of the tradition of the bride and bridegroom not seeing each other before the ceremony.
“She shared with us at our photography meeting that first looks began centuries ago when couples had no say in who they could marry,” Laura said. “The bride was chosen for the groom and vice versa. The groom was made to wait for the bride to walk down the aisle to him so he could have his ‘first look’ at her. This way, if he decided she was unattractive, it was too late for him to get out of it. I find it hilarious that we have taken such a crazy myth and turned it into a superstitious tradition. People literally think you will get a divorce if you see each other before the wedding? Crazy!”
Matthew admits he was a little superstitious about the idea of seeing Laura before the actual ceremony, but says, the more he thought about it, the more the idea of a first look grew on him.
“I am looking forward to having time to ourselves before the wedding — just me and Laura. And I think it’s awesome that Anna will be able to capture both of our reactions to seeing each other for the first time,” Matthew said.
Laura says she, too, is excited about the private time with Matthew that the first look will provide.
“Before the wedding craziness starts, we’ll be able to let everything sink in and realize, ‘Wow! We’re really getting married!’ I think doing a first look just between the two of us will be much more personal and will mean a lot more when we look back on our wedding pictures. And not to mention it will allow Anna to get some great shots of just us that may have been rushed if we had waited till the end of the ceremony. I’m still old-fashioned at heart, but that doesn’t mean I think Matthew and I will end up divorcing because of this first look we’re doing,” Laura said, laughing.
Laura, along with her mom and sister-in-law, Jesse, also recently met with Phillis Fortney at Rainbow’s End Floral in downtown Kingsport. Rainbow’s End will provide all the flowers for Matthew and Laura’s big day.
“Matthew had to work late and couldn’t make it, I don’t think he really cared since he said the flowers were all up to me anyway,” Laura said.
Laura says she already knew she wanted lavender as her wedding’s main flower.
“Lavender is not only my favorite color, but it’s my favorite flower, too. I love how delicate and pretty it looks. Not to mention it smells amazing! Plus, I have said that our wedding theme is ‘Lavender and Lace.’ This makes using lavender very fitting. So, with that in mind, I wanted the rest of the flowers that we chose to complement the lavender. I was thinking a soft, rustic, but romantic color palette for the bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces,” Laura said.
Before winning the Dream Wedding package, Laura and Matthew had planned to get married on Laura’s family farm in Gate City, Va. Even though their venue changed after winning the contest, Laura still wanted to incorporate a little bit of that old-fashioned, country feel into her and Matthew’s ceremony.
Laura says Phillis understood exactly what she had in mind.
“She is, after all, a flower expert. She knew that I still wanted the ‘rustic’ look without going too far, since we are getting married at the Carnegie now, instead of a barn,” Laura said. “Phillis and her husband have been in business for 20 years now, so I know they are experienced. I couldn’t have picked anyone better to help me with this crucial part of the wedding planning process. Phillis knew exactly what I was looking for and helped me make decisions based on what I wanted. She also gave me different ideas and opinions about what other brides have done, and about what she thought looked best.”
For her own bouquet, Laura has decided to carry a brooch bouquet — a bouquet made entirely of brooches.
“Since the fad of the brooch bouquet started, I have wanted to have one for my own wedding,” Laura said. “The first brooch bouquet I saw was Miranda Lambert’s when she married Blake Shelton back in 2011. I couldn’t get over how unique and gorgeous it was. After being in my good friend Kayla’s wedding last September, I got to see her brooch bouquet in person. I knew right then that’s the type of bouquet I wanted for my wedding.”
Laura says she has spent the last nine months collecting brooches and jewelry pieces.
“I have over 70 total. Some of them are Matthew’s mom’s. Some are my mom’s. Some of them were given to me. And the rest I’ve collected at different antique and thrift stores,” she said. “When we first got engaged, I was going to take on the project of doing the brooch bouquet myself, but since Phillis is experienced in this department, I decided to let her have at it. I know she will do a much more professional job than I ever could. She is also going to add fabric from my mom’s wedding dress around the stems of my brooch bouquet, instead of using ribbon. I can’t wait to have that hand-me-down touch added. This is a bouquet I can keep forever, or give to my daughter to carry at her wedding one day.”
Because she wants a fairly large bouquet, Laura says, after her own bouquet is assembled, there may not be any of the more than 70 brooches she has collected remaining. But if there are leftovers, Laura said these brooches may be added into her bridesmaids’ bouquets.
Laura has chosen a purple butterfly brooch that belonged to Matthew’s mom to incorporate into her own bouquet. Phillis will also add another — less feminine — brooch that belonged to Matthew’s mom to his boutonniere. Matthew’s mom, Nancy, passed away a few years ago.
“It’s going to be really hard knowing that my mom isn’t going to be at our wedding,” Matthew said. “But with Laura and me both wearing and carrying something of hers with us, it will be like she is there with us spiritually. I know that she would be honored knowing we made a way to include her.”