Jordyn Cleverly never realized how big one moment could become until she and her friend and wedding photographer Kortney Peterson decided to take a first-look photo at Cleverly’s late September wedding.
It turned into a viral moment when photos of the 23-year-old bride wearing grandmother Penny Jensen’s 1960s wedding gown — and surprising 74-year-old Jensen — hit social media.
Huffington Post, ABC News and a host of other news websites picked up their story and Peterson’s moving photos.
“I had no idea this would happen,” Cleverly says. “I’m totally blown away.”
First looks are relatively new on the wedding scene. It’s usually the moment before the ceremony when the groom sees the bride in her gown for the first time — something that for generations people have revered as bad luck. Now, they’re a staple in the wedding world.
The two women came up with the idea so that Grandma Penny wouldn’t be overwhelmed during the ceremony. They knew it would be cool, but they had no idea how cool.
Cleverly and Peterson, 22, met and became friends working at the same Meridian hair salon. They both do hair and makeup. Cleverly also specializes in special effects makeup; Peterson runs her wedding photography business on the side.
Cleverly and Peterson slipped out of the rehearsal dinner the night before the Sept. 23 wedding to get the bride dressed. Then Peterson brought Jensen out of the dinner on the premise of showing her the photo from Jensen’s 1962 wedding that was going to be on display.
Then when Jensen turned around, she saw her granddaughter standing in the gown. Penny was stunned, Peterson says.
“Everyone was crying. My camera was dripping in my tears. It was so sweet.”
Jensen wore the dress at her wedding in 1962. She held on to it until just a few years ago when she called her son, Cleverly’s dad, and told him she was going to donate the dress unless one of his daughters wanted it.
“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,” Cleverly says.
Then in 2015, Dakota Cleverly asked Jordyn, then Jensen, to marry him. The two have known each other and been in love since meeting at Fairmont Junior High School.
“After my engagement I started dress shopping. I was looking for something antique. I had always envisioned a Victorian-style dress. I had my grandmother’s dress in the back of my mind but I didn’t think it was wearable,” she says. “I couldn’t even find a dry cleaner that would touch it.”
It turns out it’s more difficult to find an antique gown because the lace and delicate fabrics of that era tend to not stand the test of time.
“After trying on 30 dresses, I pushed my wedding out a year so I could find the right one. I was so discouraged,” she says.
Then she remembered her Grandma Penny’s dress and decided to make another go of it. Fortunately, Cleverly found Kandee Harris, a custom seamstress in Caldwell, who said she could work with an aging lace bodice and tulle overlay. The underskirt is champagne.
Harris was able to alter it to fit Cleverly’s smaller frame.
“She said the lace might blow out, but it held up pretty well,” she says.
It’s been quite an adventure, Peterson says.
Peterson posted the photos on the “Love What Matters” Facebook page and things just went from there.