One of the great things about being a wedding photographer is getting to meet new people at a joyous event. But occasionally you meet old friends when you least expect it. Such was the case with our latest wedding.
We first met the bride, Dimple, at Needleman's Bridal Expo. She booked an appointment to come and talk to us in more detail, but it had to be out a ways after she returned from her trip to India. That was our first hint that this wedding would be a little different than our usual fare. For while we had photographed weddings in the past that incorporated Indian decorations or elements into their otherwise American / western weddings, this was our first where they incorporated only a couple American traditions into their otherwise Indian / Vedic wedding activities.
Our second surprise was meeting so many old friends at the event itself. It turned out that many of the bride's family had worked or still work at IBM. And back long before I began Ayer Photography, back before I consulted with Eastman Kodak, and long before my IBM career took me out of Vermont and around the globe, we had worked side-by-side as young engineers - back when a million bits on a chip was a big deal! So, it was a bit like a reunion - catching up on 30-plus years with friends you barely recognize, yet surprised at what you still remember.
As we got to know Erik and Dimple, I asked them how they got engaged. Dimple told me that after dating three years, she "knew he was the man (she) wanted to spend the rest of (her) life with." It was on the occasion of their third anniversary together that Erik took Dimple on a surprise trip to New York City. Erik kept trying to convince Dimple to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but her fear of heights held her back. So, he was forced to go with his backup plan and proposed when they returned to their hotel. Dimple described it as, "I couldn't believe it. He was so sweet and he was so nervous! But he proposed before he turned thirty, just as I wanted."
She went on to say that the story of their engagement typified their courtship. She said, "he goes with the flow and I always plan things. But sometimes it is important to just let things happen. Either way, it always works out with us - sometimes planned, sometimes going with the flow and realizing how being in the moment can become so special and show our true love for each other."
When it came to the wedding, they chose to have it at the Sunset Ballroom overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain. And facing west as it does will often experience a sunset when the weather cooperates. They chose the weekend of August 17-18 as a way of honoring Erik's mother. This was just one of many elements that made this a very family-centric wedding celebration.
In keeping with her family traditions, Dimple had long dreamed of having an Indian Vedic wedding ceremony. While there are almost as many variations as there are Indian dialects, she was able to incorporate several core traditions and rituals into her wedding.
It began with Mehndi night, a celebration held at the Hampton Inn Champlain Ballroom in Colchester, Vermont. Mehndi, or Henna, as it is sometimes known in the western world, refers to the creation of intricate decorative skin designs by the artistic application of henna paste. The paste will create a temporary stain where applied to the skin as it dries. The groom told those gathered at the celebration that the amount of henna the bride chose to have applied was traditionally proportional to how much love she has for her husband-to-be. Tradition also has it, one of the guests explained, that how long the mehndi lasts is indicative to how well the bride is cared for after the wedding.
When we went to photograph the bride getting ready, we found that the Hindu bride does not wear white (white in the Indian culture is usually reserved for funerals). Instead, her intricate gown is a bold red or maroon. In fact all the clothing for an Indian wedding is boldly colored and intricately beaded. So colorful is the clothing that flowers are only used in petal form or in garlands during the ceremony and as table decoration at the reception. A western wedding is almost monochromatic by comparison.
The wedding itself begins with Swagatam, or the welcoming of the groom. The bride's family greets the groom and his family and then escorts him to the wedding location. As the bride makes her entrance, the groom his hidden behind a curtain. Only after she has made her grand entrance and is standing next to him, is the curtain finally removed.
Parents and family play a much stronger and more visible role in a Vedic wedding than a typical western ceremony. And parts of the ritual are quite beautiful and touching even for those of us who did not understand a word that was said (because it was all in a language foreign to us). Food is exchanged, and garlands of flowers are exchanged, as are vows. Normally, I am told, the groom places a necklace on the bride instead of the exchange of rings. Erik and Dimple, however, did both.
Following the ceremony, the bride changes into a third beautiful, intricate and heavy gown before joining the reception. The reception was more familiar to those of us with more experience with western weddings. Introductions, toasts, dinner, cutting of the cake and first dances are celebration elements common to most of the weddings we have photographed. Because Erik's mother had passed away, he danced with his sister and announced he was dedicating an emotional dance to her memory.
As we went out on the roof to take a few portraits, the sun began to set. And while not the most dramatic we have ever seen, the sky did grace us with a touch of orange to add its blessing to a great day!
Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Erik and Dimple's. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!
- Bride's Wedding Gown - from India (Roopkala)
- Bride's Other Gowns - from Mumbai, India
- Bridal Makeup/Hair - Amisha Hitt
- Groom's Wedding Outfit - from India
- Groom's Reception Suit - Men's Wearhouse
- Wedding Rings - Kay Jewelers
- Invitations - Ikon Cards in India
- Officiant (Priest) - Manoj Panigrahi
- Mehndi Night Venue - Hampton Inn in Colchester, VT
- Wedding Venue - Sunset Ballroom in South Burlington, VT
- Rentals (Mandap) - Shagun Designs
- Reception Venue - Sunset Ballroom in South Burlington, VT
- Wedding Cake - Snaffle Sweets
- DJ / Announcer - Amlan Bhattacharya
- Photographers - Ayer Photography of Vermont
To see additional photographs from Erik and Dimple's wedding-related events:
- Sample Gallery by Ayer Photography
- Full Gallery by Ayer Photography (requires password from Bride and Groom)
For more details about the wedding ceremony itself (and some of our photos), see our blog post regarding the Vedic Wedding Ceremony.
Posted by Linda & Warren