If you’ve ever attended an Indian wedding ceremony (whether it’s a Hindu ceremony or not), you’re probably familiar with the baraat (groom’s procession) and the milni (meeting of the two families) before the ceremony itself. As usual, it’s a madhouse during these moments, but it’s really a perfect example of how much fun these events can be. Along with the religious traditions that the families follow, there are a lot of fun traditions that the guests follow and that includes games the groom and his mother-in-law play during the milni.Most ceremonies at the Ruby Hills Winery are done in the courtyard out back, but in this case, Shefali & Hitesh wanted to change things up so they had their ceremony in the barrel room instead. I thought it worked out really well with the chandeliers and focused lighting on the wedding mandap (stage).One of my favorite moments of a Hindu ceremony is the “first look”. Now, a lot of couples do their first look photos beforehand and as photographers we get to capture the emotions as the bride & groom first see each other in their wedding attire. Regardless of whether we’ve done that, I just love the emotions on the mandap itself and the antharpath (that’s the sheet separating the bride and groom on the stage) is lowered and the couple see each other just as the ceremony is to begin. Shefali’s smile says it all to me!After the afternoon ceremony, everyone reconvened in the evening for the couple’s reception. Again, Shefali & Hitesh mixed things up by adding some fun to their first dance…in addition to a slow dance, they kicked off the fun with a dance to “Jai Ho”Shefali & Hitesh, congrats again!
Last summer, we had the opportunity to capture a fun-filled extended weekend at Shefali & Hitesh’s Wedding. You might recall their engagement portraits which we shared earlier on the blog. The festivities got started well before the wedding day with the mendhi (henna) night, then proceeded with a Gujarati prayer ceremony at home called the the Grah Shanti the next morning. The pre-wedding events finished off with Gujarati folk dancing during their Garba-Raas night.
Here are some highlights from the mendhi night. For people not familiar with such parties, henna is used to decorate the hands of the bride and her guests. I like to think of these nights as sort of like rehearsal dinners with just the closest family & friends attending and having a wonderful time in the backyard with henna painting, singing, and dancing.
The next morning, the family had a Grah Shanti prayer ceremony at home. This is actually a string of different traditions tied together basically ensuring the bride has a wonderful wedding day and a happy married life. As with most Hindu traditions, it includes a lot of prayers, a lot of laughter, and a lot of participation from everyone.
And finally, before the wedding day could begin, both families joined together for a night of Gujarati folk dancing. Garba & Raas are actually two different types of dances, but are usually enjoyed on the same night, in the same venue. Raas is the “stick dancing” that you might be familiar with.
Stay tuned for highlights from the wedding day itself!
You might recall a previous post on Mayuri & Kunaal’s portraits. Well, the couple had their engagement ceremony back in May to make it all official. Yes, their engagement was more elaborate than many weddings, but I’m sure a lot of Indians will relate to the importance of the engagement ceremony.
Everyone joined the couple at the Sunol Valley Golf Club for breakfast, the ceremony itself, and a lunch reception afterwards. Without further ado, onto the photos!
Kunaal even got down on one knee to put the engagement ring on Mayuri’s finger!
Check out that bouquet! And don’t forget about the groom in the background
The lunch reception started immediately after the ceremony ended. And since the clouds and winds had hung around all morning, people were happy to head indoors!
Mayuri and her friends had a sweet Bollywood dance for Kunaal.
Congrats you two! Can’t wait to hear about your wedding plans in Seattle!
Catching up on one of the many portrait sessions from the Spring, here are some highlights of the Patel Family from a sunny April afternoon in San Francisco.
We started out at Baker Beach…it was Aarav’s first time at the beach and above all, he was just confused by all the water and sand. So it was definitely cute to see him make new discoveries about this ‘wierd stuff’
We then moved onto a nearby playground where Aarav really opened up. When photographing kids, I always love to catch them in moments that they just LOVE. In this case, Aarav just loves swings and playground equipment…
And just in time for Aarav’s first birthday party, the family had a couple of gallery wraps made to hang in their house. We wanted to do two completely different looks so the first one with black & white photos just have a simple background. The second one is more playful and colorful.
Aarav, I’m glad we got the chance to spend an afternoon photographing you! It’s going to be a blast watching you grow up!
Finishing up on Pallavi & Neil’s wedding weekend, here are some highlights from their reception….Enjoy!
They had a cute fuschia & orange theme going on…
I love the texture on the fondant on this cake!
Neil’s cousins had a lot of fun with some dances they did for the audience.
And, of course, everyone spent the rest of the night dancing away…
The sweetest thing at the end of the night was when Neil & Pallavi’s friends conspired with the DJ to play their First Dance song while all their closest friends & family did a nice big group hug to end the dancing. I must say, in all the weddings I’ve photographed, this was about the sweetest way to finish the night!
As we mentioned in the previous post, Pallavi & Neil had an action packed wedding weekend with elements of both Gujarati & Tamil wedding cultures mixed in. There was a traditional North India baraat, Tamil oonjal, and lots of other tidbits pulled from the variety that is Indian Hindu culture.
So let’s start off with the events leading up the actual wedding…
Of course, a beautiful blushing bride starts her day with her sisters and mother in the hotel room
If you’re wondering why that umbrella’s there, it’s not because of rain, it’s part of the tradition of a Tamil groom going to Kashi for his education. The tradition goes that the groom doesn’t really want to get married and would rather further his religious education. Before he meets the bride, the priest and families must convince him to get married for the good of both families. Here, Neil’s coming back to the wedding milni with his grandfather who convinced him to return to his wedding ceremony
A little Gujarati tradition with Pallavi coming out so that they can both garland each other. It may not look like it here, but their both on the shoulders of their relatives. The game it to prevent the other from getting the garland on. As usual, a wedding day is filled with lots of little games to keep it fun!
And just to clarify, even though Neil is following the Tamil traditions and Pallavi is following the Gujarati traditions, it’s actually Neil who’s Gujarati and Pallavi who’s Tamil. Basically, the whole family ensured that everyone participated in the various traditions and made the entire weekend a load of fun. Some people say that a marriage isn’t just about two people getting married, but actually about two families coming together. That may be a cheesy line during many speeches, but I truly believe that to be the case for multi-cultural weddings.
We had the pleasure of covering Pallavi & Neil’s wedding weekend and since it combined both Tamil & Gujarati traditions, it was a wonderful mish-mash of cultures & events.
Here are some highlights from their garba which was held at the San Ramon Community Center. Since it’s a semi-circular hall with a half-dome, I always feel like it’s the perfect place for garba!
We’re used to capturing all the action & movement at garba-raas, but this time, let’s start with some of the details. Neil’s family added some cute little touches throughout the hall to make sure people know this was a Gujarati affair
And the unique Ganesh statue’s they had were just wonderful! These were true works of art and I couldn’t help but spend some extra time getting some interesting angles on these statues.
Onto the dancing!
Watch out for more from Pallavi & Neil’s wedding weekend coming up on the blog shortly!
Following up on the previous post, Reena & Kedar held their reception on a warm summer afternoon…the relaxed atmosphere just seemed to fit them so well…
Hmm…should we be worried about competing photographers?!
Rather than heading straight to dancing to DJ music, everyone started off with some garba-raas.
No photoshop here! Just having some fun with camera technique.
Her eyes are the window into her heart.
His music is the doorway into his soul.
Reena & Kedar showed us so much of their personalities throughout their wedding days. As you’ll see in these photos, Reena has just about the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. And Kedar is so talented with his guitar. Both of them were so Zen throughout the day and it made this summertime wedding all the more enjoyable. They were married at the San Jose Holiday Inn near downtown. They have this lovely courtyard in the middle of the hotel so it made for a really nice outdoor wedding in the gazebo.
On to the photos!
Reena and her bridesmaids got ready in her hotel room.
The next two photos probably say all I need to about Reena’s expressive-ness. That smile and those eyes are the sign of a happy bride!
As I mentioned, these two were so zen throughout the day so we were able to spend a good deal of time taking couples portraits before the wedding. We had a bit of fun by playing some games between the more serious portraits.
Reena’s bridesmaids wore coordinated saris. And they were just as ready for a great day as Reena!
Mid-summer baraat in the sun? No problem for Kedar’s family…they were ready to dance!
Here’s a few moments from the afternoon…
Stay tuned for more photos from Reena & Kedar’s reception…
As promised last week, here are photos from the rest of Manisha & Ashwin’s weekend. The entire day was lovely with the venues serving perfectly for what the couple wanted…an elegant outdoor wedding and a raging party at night! The wedding was at the lovely Bella Montagna Estate which had a beautiful view of the Santa Clara valley. The evening fun was at the Doubletree in San Jose. It’s a place we always love since the staff (and Daljit in particular) do a kick-ass job and help everything run more smoothly.
We started the day off at Manisha’s house where she along with all her friends & close family were getting ready. It was sort of the mad-house with so many mulling about, but Manisha was particularly enjoying the lead up to her wedding.
Manisha had a pretty sweet antique Stutz limo to take her to the wedding…
In the meantime, Ashwin was getting ready amidst a bunch of activity as well. Since Ashwin comes from a Punjabi family, the morning of the wedding was quite busy for them with Pagri tying (Turban), Sehra Bandhi (Tying of the tassles on his turban by his sisters), etc, etc.
The baraat was a short one, but check out this little captain! He rode along on the horse with Ashwin till near the end where he walked and danced out the rest of the baraat.
A moment I just love from weddings is when the bride & groom see each other for the first time in their wedding outfits. For Hindu weddings, this is generally on the mandap right after the anterpath is drawn down to present the couple to one another. Manisha had a particularly great reaction which was just the start of the fun for the day.
Now, if you’ve followed this blog, you know that the Kanyadaan (which the bride’s parents give her away) usually has photos of hands joined together, etc. In this case, Manisha’s father had some fun and stole her away from her groom!
Just some other details & moments which Asad and I loved from this outdoor ceremony.
We had a bit of extra time for some creative portraits…just one of the shots from the afternoon…
As a new father, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of the bride’s father during the vidaii (when the bride traditionally says goodbye to her family and goes to her groom’s family). It’s a touchy time since tears are flowing so we try to be pretty low key while taking photos. I just love this shot of Manisha’s father as Manisha looks on in the background.
Moving on the party at night….we were presented with a Vegas theme. Since Manisha & Ashwin met through mutual friends while partying in Vegas, what’s more appropriate?!
The night was complete with flower filled martini centerpieces…
Decks of cards for everyone…
And a yummy looking cupcake cake!
And judging from the fun they had throughout the day, Manisha & Ashwin weren’t about to let up on the fun…they entered the hall with their first dance, then proceeded to knock everyone’s socks off with a choreographed number.
They went onto wowing the crowd with a bunch of different dances including some bhangra, garba, and….
The Soulja Boy!
I’ve never heard a crowd roar so loud as when the steel drums from the song started up and both Manisha & Ashwin started with some dips. Can you tell we love it when a couple has fun with their day?!