Last month marked two firsts for me, my first wedding overseas as well as my first ever Indian wedding! Talking with other wedding photographers and seeing plenty of weddings online, I’ve gathered that most Indian weddings are two, maybe three days. Day one is usually the traditional Indian celebration with day two reserved for the classic American ‘white dress’ ceremony. Abaan and Chris’s wedding offered up something, even by Indian standards, a little different.
First, their wedding was an Islamic wedding, not the traditional Hindu wedding which most of us in the wedding world think of when we hear “indian wedding”. Because of this, I covered much more of the preparation process than normal, and I’m not just talking about hair and make-up here. Don’t worry, I did cover the hair and make-up, but in this wedding tradition the aunts and cousins are just as involved in this process as they are in the actual ceremonies. It’s a kinship I’m not used to seeing here in the US. The first evening the ceremony was simply to welcome and introduce the families of the bride and groom to each other–think super elaborate rehearsal dinner. Tuberose garlands are placed upon special guests, (which both Pete and I were honored to be!), gifts and money are exchanged, and the eldest family members give their blessing. Then… feast!!
Now, the traditional timeline or schedule is something most of us wedding professionals rely on to make sure the day goes off without a hitch. With Chris and Abaan’s wedding festivities, well let’s just say it was more of a suggestion than an agenda! Luckily I had had several conversations about this ahead of time with Abaan so I was prepared. Well, I was kind of prepared. Thanks to Sundar, the event manager and some careful clock watching, we were always where we needed to be and knew where we were going next, but as far as what time portraits would be and when we would be heading to the next location, we pretty much adjusted things on an hourly basis. For the most part it all worked out fine, except for some added stress when it came time for portraits on days two and three.
Thankfully, the sunset time doesn’t vary too much in India, especially where we were (about 1000 miles north of the equator in and around Chennai, Tamil Nadu, which is on the south eastern coast of the country), so I knew that we needed to be outside by 5:30pm at the latest to have a shot at using any natural light. On both days, we barely made it! Most of the golden light was gone for the portrait sessions but thanks to high ISOs and some fast lens’ we were able to use what little light was left and make it work. Whew!
All said and done, we spent the bulk of our time shooting in three main locations. The first day we were at Abaan’s parent’s home in the Anna Nagar area of Chennai. Day two jumped from Abaan’s parents to Neelams Makeover Studio, then the Hyatt Regency. And on day three we made the nearly two hour trip north to the Radisson Blue at Temple Beach— talk about gorgeous!
I could probably go on for at least a few hundred more words so I’ll wrap it up. I just want to formally thank Abaan, Chris, and their parents for trusting me and letting me tell their story through my eyes, Chris and Abaan’s family and friends, especially Rachel and Diana, for truly making my trip whole, Abaan’s aunts, especially Sweetie Pashsa and Nusrath Fathima, who totally made me feel like family, and Chris’s brother Dan for keeping me company on our very long set of flights back to NYC. And of course, my second shooter and good friend Pete Thompson for treking it all the way to India with me and having my back every step of the way!
(if you play this song in a separate window it’s the perfect musical companion to view the pics! )
Event coordination – Precision Pro Events
Flowers – Mehak
Hair & makeup – Neelams Makeover Studio
All of Abaan’s Dresses – Rehane