When Idaho-based hairstylist Jordyn Cleverly got married to her high school sweetheart in September of 2017, she planned a bit of a unique “first-look” photo shoot.
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Typically, the first-look photos are taken with the bride and groom, staging the true first look at the wedding dress somewhere private to give the couple a chance to truly embrace the beauty of the moment. The groom is given a chance to soak in his first glimpse at the woman he’s about to marry, all dressed up for the occasion. The couple can control the setting without worrying about trying to capture it during the pomp and ceremony of the walk down the altar.
For Cleverly’s first-look photos, though, her husband-to-be was nowhere in sight. Instead, she gave her grandmother, 74-year-old Penny Jensen, a moment that she’ll never forget—and stole the internet’s heart in the process.
When Cleverly was planning her wedding, she knew that she wanted the chance to wear her grandmother’s wedding dress. It had been perfectly preserved since her grandmother, now widowed, first wore it in 1962—and it seemed like the best way to feel gorgeous both inside and out.
Leading up to the day of the ceremony, Cleverly kept her decision a secret. According to Little Things, she never let her grandmother know that the dress was in her possession. Instead, she simply planned a surprise during the rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding.
The 23-year-old Cleverly met wedding photographer Kortney Szuch of Kortney J Photography while the pair were working at a salon together. In addition to her photography business, Szuch (née Peterson) was a makeup artist, and she quickly became fast friends with fellow stylist Cleverly while working together.
The pair knew that wearing Jensen’s old dress was going to be special all by itself but wanted the chance to truly give Cleverly’s grandmother a moment to be blown away by the reveal. So they plotted in secret, making sure that the dress was present at the rehearsal dinner when no one would expect it.
In the middle of the dinner, Cleverly snuck away with Szuch to get changed, then waited outside for Jensen to come out and meet her. There, Szuch was able to capture the priceless moment when Jensen realized just what it was that her granddaughter was wearing.
When you suprise your widowed grandmother with a photo of her from 1962 in her wedding gown… Oh and she had no idea…
The happy couple took their own photos later during the actual ceremony, with Jordyn looking just as stunning by her husband’s side as she did while embracing her grandmother in the dress well in advance.
For many, though, the pictures that showed how two generations were able to connect over such a pivotal, unexpected-heirloom were the ones that rose above all others.
9 years ago today, my middle school crush asked me to be his girlfriend. I loved this kid the moment I laid eyes on him….
“Photographer here: I don’t know how you held it together for these enough to snap such beautiful photos. Seriously, incredible job,” one commenter wrote on Facebook, applauding Szuch for her masterful job with the photographs.
“It’s the prettiest dress! Clearly, she was meant to wear it!” said another.
After the photographs went viral, Jensen admitted that she had given the dress to Cleverly’s dad in hopes that one of his daughters would want it—but that she had never expected that it would end up walking down the aisle again.
“She said, ‘Even if they want to cut it up and make a pillow, that’s OK,’” Cleverly says. “She didn’t know that (Dad) retrieved it and we hung it in the closet.”