Let's give it up for the chillest bride ever. When Rachael Downs, a 28-year-old nurse in Alabama, got married in October 2019, she didn't think twice about letting her matron-of-honor, Allison Helper, pump during a photo session—in fact, she encouraged it.
“I nursed my daughter for 18 months,” Downs told Today Parents. “I know what it’s like. I actually pumped at Allison’s wedding. We just didn’t get any photos!”
In the bridesmaid photo that's now gone viral, Downs can be seen at center in a classic white gown, flanked by her beautiful bridesmaids rocking nude dresses—with all but one holding white bouquets. Helper can be seen with one arm resting on the bride's shoulder and one arm clutching her breast pump, making a tired face only mamas can understand. It's perfection in one shot. (And, yes, the bridal party is mask-less—but this was pre-COVID!)
Florida-based photographer Amber Fletcher captured the shot, sharing it to Facebook earlier this month with the caption: “'It’s time for the bridesmaid photos!' 'I’m still pumping.' 'Even better.'”
"What happened moments coming up on the photo was that I finished the groomsmen a little early and Allison was still pumping," Fletcher explains. "I always do a photo like the Bridesmaids movie cover, so this seemed like the perfect time to utilize not only that photo in a humorous way, but to show the realness of the specific day. In turn, it brought light to what a day looks like for a bridesmaid who is currently breastfeeding/pumping. Rachael (the bride) and Allison (the one pumping) were down with it as it’s what the day truly looked like in a way and they are all for normalizing breastfeeding and pumping."
Comments immediately poured in to shower the bride—a real anti-bridezilla—and her friend with praise. "What a bride," one user wrote. "She looks so happy. Kudos to the pumping mum. Everybody should have friends like this!"
"Best.Damn.Thing.On.The.Internet," read another comment. "Kudos to you, that amazing bride/friend (not a selfish bone in her body), and this momma who said 'I can be a good mom, and good friend, AND take care of my needs simultaneously.'"
And while many parents are probably feeling the same way about the photo, there are still critics out there who are quick to judge breastfeeding or pumping in public when, in fact, it's a perfect normal part of motherhood. We need more photos like this to remind others that this is what it really looks like to be a mom—and to still have a life outside your home.
"This photo blew up more than we could’ve ever imagined," says Fletcher. "It has been amazing to read through the comments and see how many other women relate to going through the same thing or are able to joke about possibly going through that in an upcoming wedding."