my wedding

My Wedding: First Look

(All Photography by Raya Carlisle)

If you asked me a year ago about doing a "First Look" for my wedding, my response would have been "nooooo way." {Note: A "First Look" is when a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, usually to take pictures}. I was stuck on the idea that the first time Jose would see me in my wedding dress would be when I walked down the isle to marry him.

I had this misconception that if Jose saw me for the "First Look," he wouldn't feel as emotional seeing me again when I walked down the isle. Like somehow seeing me the second time would "tone down" the emotion. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But what made me decide to do it?

I realized that the only way I could actually give my photographer 30 minutes of just photos with Jose and I, was if we did the first look. Our ceremony and reception were in the same place -- which means that once the ceremony was over, our cocktail hour could only be for about 25-30 minutes until people are ready to sit and eat. So imagine trying to do photos of the two of us, PLUS family photos, AND bridal party photos?

It's not impossible -- but it could lead to some unhappy guests. I valued my guests, their time, and their appetite, but I also valued my photos and vendors' time. I had to decide what was important to me and then it hit me...

This formality that is called the "first look" doesn't have to feel like a pressured photography session, but the opportunity for your photographer to capture such an insanely intimate moment.

I could still walk down the isle to see him for the first time -- it would simply be without an audience.

Jose waited at the end of the isle, facing the windows, his back to the entrance I would come in from. Raya brought me out once the ceremony room was cleared of people, and placed me on the opposite end of the isle -- facing Jose's back. Eeep!! She then told Jose to turn around and face me. I walked towards him and watched his tears form.

Seriously you guys, I could not WAIT for Jose to see my dress! I'd been so secretive about everything -- the dress, veil, make up, and my hair.

I can't tell you how great it was to have those moments of just looking at each other and thinking "can you believe this?!" To breathe, forget about the stress of planning, and letting the rest of the day unfold however God planned it to unfold.

Plus, it was time for pictures!!

We could take our time, exploring different corners of the gorgeous venue (Paraiso Maravilla) with our amazing photog Raya.

Even a couple of bridal portraits! She mixed film and digital :)

And there is the brooch bouquet that I took on as a special project. Thanks to some generous friends and family that donated brooches, I was able to make it and even create a tutorial for any other brides interested in making one.

Now it sits in my home as a decor piece -- a reminder of the beautiful community that supported and embraced Jose and I.

Love how Raya captured pieces of our personality..

Did I mention our venue was gorgeous?!

Funny how I thought that a "First Look" would take away from walking down the isle during the ceremony.

The truth is, you can't even prepare for the moment before you walk down the isle. I was really silly thinking anything would take away from that. I hadn't cried up to that point, even on the first look. That changed when my brother appeared at my secret entrance spot, ready to walk me down the stairs. Amazing Grace began to fill the room and rows of people that I love stood up.

I tried so hard not to cry, but the moment was more overwhelming than I ever imagined. I'll share more of that next :')

In case you missed it.. My Wedding: Getting Ready

My Wedding: Getting Ready

Here it was... the wedding day. Not the rehearsal, not the night before, but the day OF.

The first thing I had to do was get my make-up done. Ren, a friend of mine and professional make up artist brought some gifts to me that morning....

*All photos by the amazing Raya Carlisle

How sweet is that?! My first "Vidal" item! :) :) Followed by my social security card, license, and bank accounts. But clearly this one is much cuter :)

Then it was time for the family to rally around my hair! Aunt Jane and Sacora came over around 7 so we could get my hair done.

Then Ren and Claudia dropped me off at the venue (which was only 5 minutes away), so I could get dressed there and prepare myself for the "First Look."


This is when the emotions started to surface. Jose left me a gift and card with his mom. It was so cute because her eyes were brimming with tears as she handed me the gifts.

We were all fanning our faces to make those tears stop!

I remembered the moment before Jose proposed to me that he had handed me a beautiful parchment paper with a poem he had written. I had already realized he was getting ready to propose at that point (sailboat, Billie Holiday, sunset, poem, HELLO!) and the words started to blur towards the end because so many emotions were running through me. The excitement and NERVOUSNESS (gosh, I was so nervous!) did the same thing when I read his beautiful card.

He gave me a pearl bracelet which I asked Jose's mom to help me put on.

Haha. Perhaps her glasses would help her see past the tears we both had :)

I was ready to put on my dress after that. Jose's mom and sister, Autumn, were there to help me put it on and that was SO special to me!

Unfortunately we forgot to bring some crochet needles! The lady at the wedding dress store had told me that would make it much easier to loop the string around the buttons. So Autumn and Mama Nels had to figure it out with their hands.

And they worked it out! Soon after, my bridesmaids started showing up and visiting me...

You can't see my face in that photo, but I could hardly say a word because the emotions were only getting stronger. Seeing my close friends from Atlanta made me feel so grateful that they were there for this amazing moment in my life.

"Okay! It's time to see Jose!" Oh-my-Lord. What?! But I'm not ready!!! I'm so nervous!!!

But the moment was here and it was time for the first look... :) Love that I can share these with y'all and hope you'll join me for the next (and MOST emotional) moment! Who am I kidding?! I was an emotional mess (with many others) -- just ask our guests!!

My Wedding Rehearsal

(All photos by Raya Carlisle)

I know. I know. It is ABOUT TIME, Ale! This is true. But hopefully you'll forgive me because going through hundreds of wedding photos, making photo books for parents, and life in general can make posting your wedding photos a bit daunting. So let's not dwell on that and start with the rehearsal! :) :)

How cute is my flower boy?!? That's my cousin David with his older sister Crystal.

I decided to have my brother walk me down the stairs while my dad would wait at the bottom to walk me down the isle. He couldn't make the rehearsal so my uncle (David & Crystal's dad) played that part. Apparently he had some jokes!

If only I could remember what Jose was saying :P

My lovely flower girl... waiting.

Our photographer is SO good! :)

Amazing support from my friends and family :) :)

Then it was time for lunch! We chose BBQ because a wedding coordinator told me some pretty great advice: do NOT have the same style of food you're serving at your wedding so people will not compare one from the other and feel like they're having it twice. Smart! We had a Latin-American fusion brunch at my wedding.. clearly BBQ is very different. Plus, I couldn't think of a better way to introduce Texas to my out of town friends than some BBQ grub!

Gifts were exchanged and great conversations were had :)

VERY amazing people that mean the world to Jose and I!!

And theeeen, Raya took a few quick photos before we left! :)

In case you're wondering -- I found this dress at one of those "formal dresses" stores at Grapevine Mills Mall. Couldn't believe I would find something this unique there!! That's actually where I also found my garter belt!

I remember feeling SO amazing that day despite some rough moments of stress. My advice for future brides is to DELEGATE a phone person for your rehearsal! We all plan for the "big" day and forget that the rehearsal can be stressful too. My cell phone was *blowing up*, eeeeveryone was getting lost and calling me. We only had an hour to do the rehearsal and I was worried the lack of rehearsal would mess up the real thing. And it didn't... at all :)

At the end of the day, Jose marched me to the hotel my mom was staying at and said "I don't want you to think about anything but sleep and getting ready for tomorrow." Considering how much we did the week before -- I listened to him! Minus the actual sleep part. I tried. Too many emotions! Around 10 that night he sent me a text that said: The next time I see you, you will be Mrs. Vidal. I love you :)

-Mrs. Vidal ;)

The Week Before

Along with the chaos of moving out of Atlanta, leaving my friends and job, and driving to Dallas, Texas in preparation for the wedding -- there was another hectic event: The Week Before.

Jose's family is unbelievable. Seriously. They reserved a hotel in Houston (where we were getting married) for the entire week before the day. Knowing that I was in Atlanta and going crazy with my crafty-self, they set a whole week aside to finish all of the last details before Sunday.

We started the week with Jasmine's birthday and the rest of the days became Crafting-Central. Michael's & Hobby Lobby had a baby in our living room. The step-children Dollar Store and Dollar General also came for a visit. Gotta do what you gotta do!

For all of their dedication, hot glue burns, late night crafting, and simply outpouring their support for Jose and I -- I made a little video. Loaded with Jose's point and shoot, I brought it out to remember that week :)

Make sure it has LOADED all the way first before watching!

Again, I'm so thankful to all of my friends who helped with the wedding and were so supportive during the entire process! However, I couldn't have gotten all of my centerpieces and even the most smallest details done without the help of Jose's family that last week. I love y'all so much :)

I'll be posting more of Raya Carlisle's photos from the wedding later! Jose and I went through to pick our favorites this past week and had to make them smaller to be able to post online. Can't wait!

The Hair Story - Part II

So where were we?

Oh yes. Extensions. Again, it can have a bad connotation, but why should it? It's all in HOW you use it. I heard something along the lines of : On your wedding you should look like a BETTER version of your everyday self, but not UNLIKE yourself. The idea is that you don't suddenly transform yourself that it's almost unrecognizable, but that you also don't treat it like any other day of the week.

My bestfriend, ironically, ALSO went for a Spanish look on her wedding (4 years ago!), and she wore a simple, low bun. Actually, my Godmother styled her hair :) Well, she DOES have thick hair, but it wasn't long enough to make the bun look FULL. You know, those luscious hair buns? So my Godmother added some extensions to increase the volume of the bun and viola! The perfect touch.

So! Back to me screwing up. I managed to make a hair appointment in Houston, and I wanted to have the extensions for the hair trial. She told me to wash my hair the day before our trial so it wouldn't be so silky clean the day of. I stayed up that night till almost 1 a.m. sewing those extensions! I had to wake up early and I just LOOKED so tired. I threw on a dress, and looking still half-asleep I left for the appointment that was 45 minutes away. By the way, I was staying at my cousin's house in Houston once I left Atlanta for Texas the month of my wedding.

My hair decides to feel extra greasy today, even though I had washed it the day before. I think because I kept running my hands through it when I was stressing over the extensions that the oils in my hand made it more.. matte-y. Meaning, it didn't feel flowy and just.. drabby. Am I making up words?! Blogger keeps underlining them in red! Anyway, I was NOT feeling my hair and KNEW this was going to affect the styling.

I show the stylist the photos, describe the looks, but also emphasize that I am VERY open to ideas. I want her to be inspired and use her skills to do what she does best. The first thing she does is start curling my hair. I notice that she doesn't even change my hair part. I start to shift in my chair when I see the curls slide out of the curler and they look so tight. Ugh. When she gets to the last layer, I speak up. She informs me that the curls will start to become loose as time passes because they lose shape, so it's better that they're slightly tighter. Slightly? Um.. okay. Also, the curls aren't that bouncy because my hair is heavier from the natural hair oils + product. So much for the romantic curls :(

Once the curling is done, she begins the styling. I interrupt and ask about the extensions. And guess what? Guess w-h-a-t. Dummy here picked extensions that were the actual LENGTH of my hair! Meaning, I wouldn't have layers .. I would just have a LOT of hair at the same length. I needed to get them a few inches longer so that some curls could be longer than others. Y'all, I REALLY thought I had picked some long extensions (12 inches!!). But I didn't realize how long my hair had gotten and how SHORT it becomes when you curl it. Clearly 12 inches isn't long enough. Who would have known. So make note of that ladies. Hold the hair to your ear and see how long it drops.

Blah. She tells me that on the wedding I can just buy longer ones from them ($20 per/track) or bring them myself and that it "should work out." I don't know about y'all, but I DON'T want to see my wedding hair on my wedding day. I want to see it BEFORE because that might not be my wedding hair if it doesn't turn out well!

Finally, she starts pinning things so my hair can cascade down my shoulder, except -- the curls are so tight, it's not really "cascading." It's just sitting there. POP. That's the sound I heard in my head when my bubble busted. Plus, my part is STILL on the same spot when I came in, and she didn't do anything special when she pulled it back.

Biggest mistake brides make: Do NOT go home and complain about your hair style if you have not said a WORD to your stylist. Your stylist needs to know if she can make any changes because she can't read your mind. She could probably read my body language...

And my body language was saying "Weeelll.. I was picturing something a little different." I explain to her what I was hoping for, and she re-does the side section. It came out pretty. Very pretty. I would be alright wearing this to a bridal shower. But NOT my wedding. I asked her to take a photo and I'm sorry it came out blurry!

The front

You see my arrow? I'm pointing to the curl that looks like it's been brushed. Notice how at the VERY top of my head, it's like my hair appears to be slicked down. (BTW - I made this one B/W so that the blur wouldn't look as strong).

The side

The curls were just... all wrong...

The other side

Now this is the part I asked her to make it more 'intricate.' I REALLY did like it, but because I didn't like the hair as a whole -- it didn't work for me.

At this point, I had already asked to make changes, and even after the changes I wasn't satisfied, so my answer was clear = Not my stylist. If that's how she curls hair, it's not like I can say "Can you change the way you curl hair...?"

What I learned from this session:
  • My hair needs to be washed relatively close to the trial because hair products weigh my hair DOWN. It gets oily easily. This is not the case for everyone, so this is why brides -- you MUST have a hair trial if that is important to you!!!
  • The tight curls REALLY shortened my hair length = buy longer extensions
  • It is better to walk away from a trial you didn't like then cross your fingers it will work on your wedding day
  • I MUST, must, MUST blow dry my hair with as much volume as possible before the trial.
Stick around for the FINAL part that includes photos of the SECOND trial with a friend and how we eventually got .... this

*photo by Raya Carlisle