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!