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Bride dresses up again for first look and dance with brother who couldn't attend her wedding

A sister's deep connection with her younger brother led her to recreate a poignant wedding moment he had missed.

Bride dresses up again for first look and dance with brother who couldn't attend her wedding
Cover Image Source: Courtesy of Reilley Photography

Siblinghood is full of laughter, tears, pranks and numerous special moments. You're ready to break their door down for stealing your T-shirt one minute and ready to donate your kidney the next. But one brother missed out on a special moment with his newly-married sister—he didn't get to see her as a bride. So this sister did what she had to relive that special moment and share it with her brother.

The sister, Jackie Sweeney, dressed up once again as the bride and had the first look and first dance with her younger brother, Gabe Johnston. He seemed absolutely thrilled to see his sister as a bride. She even arranged for a special photoshoot just for this moment to be captured. The much-experienced wedding photographer capturing the moment, Caitlin Reilley, owner of Reilley Photography LLC based in Buffalo, New York, described the captures as "by far one of the most special moments I've been a part of in my photography career."

Image Source: reilleyphotography
Image Source: Courtesy of Reilley Photography

The compilation of their photographs showing their beautiful reactions was posted on Instagram in August 2022 and received 1.2 million likes. The overlay text explained from the bride's point of view "when your little brother couldn't fly to your destination wedding, so you put your dress back on and did a private first look + first dance with him months later." The photographer shared in the caption, "Jackie and Chris had their dream destination wedding in April, but one thing was missing— Jackie’s little brother, Gabe.

He was unable to fly and he so badly wanted to see her in her dress, so she set up a session with me here in Buffalo, got all dolled up and had a first look + first dance with him. Seeing Gabe’s face light up when he saw his big sister was quite literally the sweetest moment of my career, and one that I will never forget."

Image Source: reilleyphotography
Image Source: Courtesy  of Reilley Photography

 Viewers were also pretty thrilled to see Gabe's precious reactions to seeing his sister as a bride for the first time. "Omg this is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen," commented @cordes_studio. "Brother and sister love for each other is a blessing," wrote @davis.catherine1995. "You captured the love and joy in these photos," praised @blueballsmcgoo.

According to Insider, Jackie and her now-husband Christopher Sweeney had a destination wedding in Mexico on April 12, 2022, but 19-year-old Gabe couldn't attend. The 28-year-old shared the reason why. Gabe was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect, for which he has had six surgeries. Jackie intended to have a first look and first dance with Gabe at her wedding.

However, because the wedding occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of something happening to Johnston while he was traveling and away from his doctors felt too great, so he did not attend the wedding. "He's basically a miracle," Jackie said of her brother. "He is just super loving. I always say he's my favorite person. He gets very excited for everyone around him," she said. "He's very uplifting, so when he hears anything good is going on in my life, he is over the moon excited."

Jackie contacted Reilley, a New York-based photographer with whom she had previously worked, to do the first look shoot as well as some photos of her and her husband. Jackie, Gabe and Reilley went to Woodlawn Beach in Buffalo, New York, to take photos. She had her wedding gown dry-cleaned and her hair and makeup done. Even Johnson was excited to wear his wedding attire.


They danced to "Better Together" by Jack Johnson, who also sings "Upside Down," which was featured in the film "Curious George." Jackie mentioned that her brother enjoys "Curious George," so the song choice felt natural. She added, "It was a whole ordeal, but it was so worth it. He just kept saying, 'Wow, Jackie,' and telling me I looked pretty and asking me how he looked. I just felt so happy. That missing piece of my wedding was complete." "I truly feel so blessed to have been a part of this special moment that they will remember forever," Reilley shared with Insider.

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