I have these opportunities that come to me and I am so grateful when they do!
One such time came in April of this year when I was invited by the lads of Hybrid Photography, based in London, UK, to meet them in Southern California for a Desi wedding. One of the team is married to a cousin of the groom and frankly, there was no way I would miss this chance! I had previously worked as a second shooter for a local Knoxville photographer who shot an Indian wedding and I am in LOVE with South Asian weddings!
The colors! The traditions! The music! Hands down, when Desi families throw a wedding, it is an extyravanganza, lasting two to three days. And they beauty of the couple - Dania was such a stunning bride marrying tall and handsome Suroor!
I may be getting terms wrong here, so please bear with me.
The festivities started on Friday night with the mehndi, where the couple is seated, and well wishers come forward to apply the intricate henna designs on their hands while presenting them with food. Dania and Suroor's mehndi was held at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, surrounded by the hills of Southern California.
The bride is readied in a separate room and led in under a canopy held aloft by her maids.
I am told that in the olden days, the drawing of the mehndi would be done gardually, with each guest adding a line. However, drawing mehndi is a bit of a lost art and so the couple's hands are done ahead of time, and each guest dips a quill into ink and marks their hands. In addition, they are hand fed by each guest who approaches them on an ornate throne.
Afterwards, came the dancing! I love the dancing - it's EDM meets Bollywood and beats the Cha Cha Slide ANY day!
And the beauty of the dress, the jewel tones that take a beautiful couple and make them radiant! Gorgeous!
Now on to Day Two! The morning started with what I believe is called a nikah, or the actual Muslim marriage ceremony. This was held at the Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center that featured floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a spectacular view.
Again, the bride does not simply get escorted by a male relative to be married - there is a great entrance!
The bride joins her groom on a sort of throne, and gifts are presented to them.
And, of course, a new outfit - Dania is just so beautiful!
And now an afternoon break in preparation for the valima, the wedding dinner. I used the time to scout locations with Peter Treadway of Hybrid Photography in the surrounding area and I hoped Dania and Suroor's outfits for the evening would be as beautiful as what they ahd already worn. They weren't - when I saw Dania, I literally gasped, it was so splendid!
The golden hills of a late afternoon in Southern California provide the perfect backdrop for her portraits.
And frankly, everyone is beautiful at a Desi wedding!
The bride and groom enter like the royalty they are for this day.
And the evening starts with Muslim prayer for the couple. I like when the sacred comes into any wedding celebration.
I wish these lovely kids all the best - and I thank again PeterTreadway and Dave Williams of Hybrid Photography for this opportunity!
If you're a Desi couple, give me a call - and yes, I'll travel!