“How Do You Do” To “I Do”
Gallery: Jennifer Beslin's Journey To The Altar [10 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Jennifer Beslin & Shanna Perkins Photos by Robby Bishop & Travis Gauthier
After a long engagement to her now husband Travis McMath and photographing countless weddings for others, Jennifer Beslin decided that it was finally time to tie the knot. Her experience was far from traditional and her viewpoint, being a wedding vendor herself, was unique, but the outcome was stunningly beautiful and filled with love. This is her bridal story, including inspirations, experiences, journal outtakes, failures and successes experienced on her long journey to the altar.
Here is my attempt to merge business and personal life. These are the ins and outs of my “glowing” wedding journey. Travis and I met on July 2, 2005 and got engaged in December of 2007. With the 10th anniversary of our “first look” quickly approaching, we have decided to finally tie the knot. The date is set for July 2, 2015. I am not one to plan as much as I am one to just go for it. So, we shall see how these personality traits of mine play out!
All New Years come with resolutions, and as with most, this year’s was for better health. With that being said, Days 1-5 were failures. These days were filled with scrambling to figure out where to start and how to put into perspective what the most important things are. First on my list of healthcare is “Skincare.” I use nothing on my face; I rarely even wear makeup. Rodan and Fields is on my list, but I need to find out if it is sulfate and paraben free. Second on my list is a locally owned skincare line, Jules and Esther. I’m hoping I don’t have to search much further than that! Lots of people have recommended their idea of the best skincare treatment, but I need to do more research to find the right regimen for my skin so that I can “glow” on my wedding day!
I decided to order Jules and Esther for my skin regimen. I can’t wait to receive these products and work them into my routine. My next obstacle will be loosing 10 pounds. The challenge is to find a workout routine that I can work into my life and continue “forever,” not just the next three months. Knowing that the first few pounds may just be water weight, I am going to try to stay hydrated. I struggle with drinking water. If I am not handed a drink, I usually do not drink for most of the day. I received a 25-ounce Swell water bottle for Christmas from my, hopefully, soon-to-be Maid of Honor. My goal is to drink three bottles a day.
I already received the first wedding items I ordered! I love most of the items from BHLDN Wedding. I ordered their “Mr.” and “Mrs.” hangers. They were completely worth the $28 price tag, because I plan on using them at other weddings. I also bought my Maid of Honor one, which is how I will ask my MOH to be my MOH. Maybe I will ask her to “hang on for the ride!”
Having A Long Engagement
The pressure of getting married and setting a date is overrated! Having a long engagement was not how we planned it. We joked year after year as people assumed we were married; they would be completely shocked when they found out we weren’t and that we had yet to set a date. We welcomed our son into the world in 2013. Travis always said that when our son could walk, we would get married. So when that time came, we started brainstorming for a date that was meaningful to us. Since we met on July 2, 2005, we decided that July 2 would be our date…no matter what day of the week it fell on! (It was a Thursday.)
The first dress that I tried on was in 2008; it was one of the only ones I had seen a picture of and loved. After seven years and a date finally being set, I randomly stopped in a bridal salon and tried on two dresses. The second being the same concept as the one I had tried on many years before, only with more detail and in a different color. Weeks went by and I knew I needed to decide. People thought that I was crazy for not having a dress so close to my wedding. My secret? I’m very close to “sample size.” I could walk out of almost any store with my dress in hand on the same day I tried it on.
I went to “visit” what I thought would be my dress and realized, there were alterations that would need to be done. What if I didn’t love it after the details were altered? So, I decided to go dress shopping with my mom, Holly and my Matron of Honor, Alix, on May 9. We headed for Baton Rouge and went to five bridal salons. Being a wedding photographer, I felt like I had seen every dress or some version of it. I spent less than 10 minutes in every store. That day was not a success.
A few weeks later, I decided to head to NOLA with my mom. We went to three salons and at Town and Country, our last stop, I tried on three dresses and….I found my dress!!! It was one that I would never think to try on. When I put it on I immediately thought, “Could this be it?” My cousin Tonia met us there as I was putting the dress on and she helped confirm that it was the one. She said, “I have only seen what is here today and have no idea what you have tried on before, but I am sure this is it!” So, I finally had my dress – less than two months before my wedding. I had it altered and picked it up in time to take my bridals before the wedding.
Old, antique and unique things always inspire me, but romantically glamorous is how I wanted to feel. After finding my dress, I Googled “art deco,” which is the style of my dress. This helped me pick out my colors – gold, gray, pewter, black, navy, bronze and silver.
I had my family and close friends wear these colors to the wedding, so that my photographs would look great. As a photographer, I’m always thinking about the end result. Years ago, I would have had a large wedding party, but at 33 years old, I just didn’t want to make a huge deal out of my wedding. I knew I wanted to include my close friends, so I did a special cake pull during my celebration. In honor of being untraditional, I thought the food should be untraditional, too! I chose Zea’s Rotisserie & Grill to cater the celebration. They were fantastic! The food was perfect and everyone raved about how great the food tasted.
Having A Small Wedding
I was never “that girl” who dreamed of their wedding day and never one to be the center of attention. When we first got engaged, Travis was the one who wanted a big wedding. Within the two weeks that I started to plan it, I just knew that it wasn’t for me. After eight years of engagement, Travis said to me, “Let’s just go to City Hall.” My response, “Ha! Not!” I hadn’t waited that long to do it that way. So we decided to have a small wedding. We invited 50 people to the ceremony at St. Joseph Chapel in the woods. Additional invites were sent out to the celebration afterwards, which was held at my studio, Fusion Photography, on Main Street in New Iberia. We draped the front of the studio with black curtains and laid down a red carpet. There ended up being about 150 people – it was perfect.
Since we were together for so long, we didn’t feel the need for a “normal” wedding registry. We have shared a home for the past five years and it is filled with towels, plates, silverware and other traditional wedding registry items. I decided to register at a small retail business in New Iberia, Chateau Rustique. I felt that the store was just as unique as my wedding.
When the doors opened to the chapel, I had a rush of emotions. I loved how my florist, Angelina Blaze at Jolie Fleur, made the space feel romantic with flowers and candles down the aisle. I loved seeing my family and close friends all gather to finally witness our special day. And then seeing Travis, we were really “doing this!”
The Other Side Of The Camera
My wedding ended up being a great learning experience! Now I have so much firsthand advice to offer my brides.
If your photographer offers you a “first look” shot, do it! The first thing you see when you walk down the aisle will not be your husband. You’re going to want to have that moment forever.
You have planned so many details! Make sure you have them documented perfectly, especially your dress. No detail should be lost. So make sure you choose a photographer who will do that for you.
Yes, there were things that I wanted to have for my wedding that just didn’t happen. I didn’t stress about one thing, and if I started to stress, even a little, I would remind myself – July 2, 2015 is about celebrating and marring my best friend. Not about something uncontrollable or materialistic.