When I see a request for two days in one wedding, I assume it’s a rehearsal and wedding day.
…and honestly?? I don’t do that.
Sidenote: to me a rehearsal is a run through that is full of wedding party banter, an officiant yelling over said wedding party, and everyone looking forward to a rehearsal dinner to typically forget everything they just “learned”.
But this was definitely not that scenario.
After shooting their two day engagement session (not 48 hours, people… two separate days of beautiful engagement fun) I knew I was ready for their two day wedding event at Vintage Villas.
Thankfully they had Cheryl of Glitzzy Events coordinating both days of their wedding, so I had a great go-to for anything regarding location, timeline and photo requests!
When I came into the picture that Friday, I knew I was in for a treat. I have already shot Indian weddings, including a stunning wedding in New Delhi… so I knew the food, dancing and wardrobe would be on point.
Next Sidenote: Have you guys ever been to an Indian wedding?
If you get invited? Take time off work, book a hotel. It’s so wonderfully different from our “typical” American ceremonies. For this one, they made sure guests knew what was going on, which is a wonderful bonus. I have shot many culturally diverse ceremonies that leave guests sitting there extremely confused.
Cultural traditions are beautiful. They should be shared. Consider adding a small part in your program explaining a tradition that might be confusing for out of town guests, or have someone in the family or wedding party explain what’s happening so that everyone can feel connected.
Are you getting the vibe of this wedding yet?
I felt connected right away. When the bride’s dad pulled me aside and said “during their ceremony, you are not to be seen at all, no blocking the guests, no disrupting the ceremony at all” I simply told him “no worries! I’ll just go ahead and take a break behind the bushes!” My sarcasm at least got a laugh from the bride’s mom. 😉
All kidding aside, I understand that parents are there to enjoy the wedding they have been looking forward to since their girl was born, and I am there to capture those moments without ruining the experience for anyone.
There is a valid reason for a family to be concerned about wedding photographers.
I have first hand seen “professionals” step all the way in the faces of the wedding couple to get their shot. That wouldn’t be happing today, that’s for sure.
Mena walked the long walk down the aisle under an arch carried by men in her family. So many colors, all the henna… it’s all mesmerizing even if you’ve seen these traditions before.
We listened to the history behind their traditions, and you could tell their guests felt included.
When the ceremony ended and the food trays opened on the other side of the beautiful lawn?? Watch out. You can’t keep me from eating Indian food even while I’m carrying my gear. Dancing and eating are pretty much the exclusive reasons I purchased the Black Rapid dual straps for my camera bodies.
And for those of you not the biz, those are the straps I wear that allow for my two camera bodies to swing on each side of my body without me having to hold them every second of the very long weekend.
Friday night was full of wonderful tradition, vibrant colors, choreographed dancing and phenomenal food.
And then Saturday arrived.
The emotions run even deeper when the guests and family have been able to already spend time together, and this was no exception.
The girls were getting all dolled up with Elisa Will and her team (who always do amazing work, by the way!) and I just sat back and watched the magic unfold before their first look.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with couples doing a “first look” let me explain.
Some couples still go traditional and see each other for the first time as they walk down the aisle at their ceremony. Others take a moment to see each other for the first time alone instead of in front of a crowd.
I need to explain this, because I may have gotten a little worked up after hearing a woman scoff at the fact that a couple of mine (at a different wedding) had already seen each other before the ceremony. She leaned over to another guest and said “kids just have no respect for tradition anymore, they just want to go take their d*mn photos.”
((please insert my shocked face here, seeing as she was in a church, cursing in front of kids while complaining about respecting tradition, then insert me saying “no ma’am, it’s probably because they were a little nervous to have their parents friends staring at them waiting for a reaction))
Have your first look however YOU want it.
These two chose to write each other love letters and read them, standing back to back, before seeing each other for the first time. How’s that for a beautiful tradition?
Now, we might have had to pause their portraits thanks to my overly dramatic skin. The grass, which I was of course laying in for a photo, had my arms in flames which sent me for some cool towels before we could continue. Yay for me and my delicate skin.
Somehow the sun lingered over their ceremony perfectly so that it seemed we had golden hour for the ceremony and the portraits afterwards, which if you follow me on any social media you might know I’m a fan of using light to create art.
I’m also a fan of sharing a little of your journey with your guests which Mena and Steve did perfectly with their vows. They talked about their first impressions and how they ended up in front of that altar promising they’d be together forever.
Instead of unity candles, sand or ropes, they joined different spices to represent how many ingredients can contribute to a healthy marriage.
Then is party did not stop for a second after they said I do. Okay, they let a few speeches happen (which I am so glad they let their parents talk, SO funny to hear those stories from both sides!) then kept the party flowing until the middle of the night.
And how fun that this police officer husband let loose and surprised his new wife during the reception by singing this Brad Paisley song Today (go let it play, and see if you don’t tear up and spiral through the rest of Paisley’s amazing music videos). The dancing was hardly interrupted even by the build your gourmet donut station, guys.
I know this because I was smack dab in the middle of building a chocolate fudge/Oreo crumble creation on top of a glazed circle of dough that I thought only existed in my dreams… when I hear all sorts of whooping and hollering going on over at the dance floor.
Mena’s parents had been lifted up above the crowd and everyone was going crazy! Lol. Good thing the donut vendors said they’d guard my sweet creation with their lives so I could go capture it.
But seriously- I almost forgot to make them go out for a night shot because the night was so action packed with goodness, and I’m okay with that.
By the time the sparklers came out- everyone was still hyped (most likely from all the amazing sugar options we all took part in…) so of course I had to go through my “let’s not burn the newlyweds or each other” training as I will happily do every weekend to be sure no one ever goes up in flames again! *(that was years ago, she was fine and she had it comin’).
Until next time, guys!
**Oh! I can happily update that I shot a wedding that these two were in the wedding party- and they also had to drive me from Virginia to Maryland- and I hold to it that they are simply just good people. You’ll see them in that blog soon!
Austin Wedding Planner: Cheryl of Glittzy Events
Austin Wedding Venue: Vintage Villas Hotel & Events
Austin Hair & Makeup: Elisa Will and team