Looking back on Aparna and Hari’s wedding there are so many wonderful things I could point out. The venue and location was lovely, the beautiful mandap, the incredible colors of the clothing… but to me one thing really stands out. Aparna and Hari love to laugh. And then they make jokes and laugh some more. It’s pretty awesome and super fun to be around! I am a big believer that the bride and groom set the tone for the whole wedding day. Well the tone was set, laughter filled the air from the start of the day to the end. I have no doubt that Aparna and Hari’s wedding will be one that their family and guests will have very fond memories of forever.
We can’t say enough about the Oceano Hotel, their location and the incredible staff. They certainly know how to put on a great wedding, everything was perfection!
Aparna got ready with her girls and some guys floating around, special ones got passes into the world of the ladies getting ready, like her dad and her brother.
Photographing an Indian wedding is such a dream for all it’s color, texture and sparkle!
How awesome are the rub-on tattoos the ladies had!?The guys (and groomsmaid) were already dressed and ready, leaving even more time for goofing around. I mean how much do they even need to do? Though I do hear that Hari has a pretty intricate hair routine!
This might be a good place to tell my small world story about Hari! Yes I love small world stories! During my time with Aparna and Hari on the engagement shoot we started talking about cold weather and snow. Hari mentioned he grew up around a lot of snow, I said, “me too!” I asked where he was from and he said “Buffalo”. I said “me too!” I said where in Buffalo and he said “East Amherst” I said “me too!” At this point Hari thought I was totally pulling his leg and started laughing. Turns out that we whittled it down and that we both went to the same High School! Go Spartans! This may not seem like a big deal- but keep in mind we had this conversation over 2,500 miles away from our high school!
Getting dressed in a sari is no quick and simple thing- it involves teamwork and lots of pinning! It was so much fun to photograph the hussle and bussle of woman dressing Aparna!Outside the hotel, Greg had Hari in position waiting for his First Look with Aparna. I love the anticipation of First Looks and the expressions on the groom’s and bride’s face!Someone had told me earlier that Indian weddings were usually not that emotional- umm, someone was wrong!
And of course, in just their style they started laughing about the tears!
The henna detailing on Aparna was so stunning and I loved how Hari got some too!Hari’s side of the wedding party, referred to as team Beige!One of them gave Hari a little wedding kiss… which was then instantly uploaded to all social media platforms!Team Orange, Aparna’s MVPs were a little more, shall we say, mature.But when these two teams got together, it was full-on laughter. These guys were having a riot! We headed into the hotel lobby for some family formals. The sun outside was a bit intense and we all agreed that the beautiful lobby would be perfect for the formals! I’m extra happy with this decision as I feel the white background allows the colors of the clothing to really shine! Just hanging out, I swear, Aparna and Hari were the most relaxed bride and groom! The two families joined together as one!Any of my past clients can tell you that I’m pretty serious about how family formals are done. They need to be organized so they can be done fast and happily… let’s be real, everyone hates family formals! The best way to get through them is to make them very organized. So could you imagine my delight when I saw Anup, Aparna’s brother, with his picture list printed and LAMENATED!!!! This a dream come true for me! Anup, thank you so much for keeping it EXTRA organized!
Outside the scene was beautifully set for Aparna and Hari’s Hindu wedding ceremony. They wanted a very intimate wedding that was culturally representative of both of them and their Indian roots.
Aparna and Hari shared with me the information from their wedding program which I will use to describe the ceremony photographs.
“The Hindu wedding ceremony is founded on traditions and rituals originating in the Rig Veda, the earliest of the four ancient Sanskrit books of knowledge, collectively known as the Vedas which form the basis of Hinduism. This sacred Vedic wedding ceremony is meant to unite two people so firmly that after marriage, they become one in spirit whilst retaining two separate bodies.”
“The flowers signify beauty and joy; the grains represent the food necessary to sustain life. The fire, representing Agni (the God of Fire), is a divine witness to the union and brings warmth throughout the couple’s life.”
This is why I love working with a 2nd shooter! So great to have 2 perspectives on the same moment- especially when the moment is a big one!Aparna is escorted by her mom and dad. Aparna you look absolutely stunning!!!
Andddd guess who is cracking up!? Aparna, when she got down the aisle went to kiss Hari! Hari’s expression was like “Whoah- pump the brakes!” Everyone was cracking up!
Tilakam: The bride’s parents welcome the groom with his wedding party and the bride’s mother applies a Tilak and rice on the groom’s forehead. The priest and the bride’s parents lead the groom and his brother to the mandap where they are given appropriate seats.
Jaimala: The bride and groom place flower garlands upon each other to signify their acceptance of each other in marriage.
While all the boring grown up stuff was going on, someone was up to things much more interesting!
Ganesh Puja: To commence the Hindu wedding ceremony, a prayer is offered to Lord Ganesha, whose blessings will remove any major obstacles from the ceremony and from the couple’s new life together. Ganesha is the lord of all circumstances; therefore, no Hindu ritual is ever undertaken without Him. The Mangalsutra (sacred wedding necklace) is placed at Ganesha’s feet to invoke his blessings. Prayers are then recited to the Nav-Grahas, the nine cosmic forces, and the presiding deities of the marriage. The matrika Varuna, the main kalash and the ancestors are invited and worshipped. These prayers ask for continuous happiness, harmony, and prosperity for the couple.
Kanya Daan: The bride’s father seeks a pledge from the groom of his enduring love, fidelity and security in caring for the bride. The bride’s father joins the hands of his daughter and the groom, declaring to all gathered that he hands her to the care of the man of her heart.
So much happiness! I really thought it was amazing how much parent and family involvement there is in the Hindu wedding ceremony.
Gathbandhan: The bride and groom are joined together by tying a corner of their outer garments, symbolizing the bond of marriage.
Agni Puja And Hawan: A small open fire is lit in the center and Agni, the God of fire, is invited to witness the marriage. Fire, a purifying agent, is also a source of energy.
Mangal Phera: This is the most important ritual in which the bride and the groom circle the ceremonial fire seven times as the priest bestows blessings upon them for an eternal happy and healthy marriage. With each round, the couple seeks the four basic goals of human life:
1. DHARMA- (Righteousness) 2. ARTHA- (Prosperity)
3. KAMA- (Pleasure) 4. MOKSHA- (Salvation)
Mangalsutra & Sindoor: The groom places the Mangalsutra, the sacred black-beaded necklace around the bride’s neck as a symbol of their coming together in mind, body and soul. As the groom applies the Sindoor (sacred red powder), he is affirming that he is devoting his life to her forever.
With the exchange of their wedding rings, they commit to support each other in good times and bad, in happiness and sorrow, with unending love.
Exchange of Sweets: The bride’s mother brings sweets for the couple. The bride and groom offer sweets to each other as a symbol of their first meal together and their devotion to share everything in their life with each other.
The ceremony was over and Aparna and Hari are now married!!! What happened next was the most beautiful hugfest ever!Aparna and Hari’s brothers make it official on paper!We took a few minutes after the ceremony to photograph the newlyweds. When they thought I was doing a lighting test they were checking out Aparna’ wedidng ring. It was so very sweet and then of course they started cracking up about it! This then cracked me up because this used to be a huge (cheesy) wedding “pose” way back in the day, one I would never have asked them to do… but I loved how genuine it was when they did it without asking!Aparna even had an elephant on her arm, Hari’s favorite animal. While it’s sometimes hard to leave all your friends and family, we did take off for a little while to a stunning beach a few miles away. Aparna and Hari were totally on board for what I called “pockets of portraits” which I was so grateful for. What this means is that rather than one long session for taking portraits, we broke up the time into smaller sessions. We did about 10 minutes during First Look, then more after the ceremony here at the beach and then later when the sun set for a few more minutes! What I love about this is that the expressions do not get stale and also that the lighting is so dramatically different, lending a different feel and greater variety in the images. What my clients love about it is that they do not feel they have been taken away from their party for too long! It’s a win win!Everything was so AMAZING!! The couple, the outfits, the scenery- it was like out of a movie! Or as Hari joked, their Bollywood moment! Yes!!Back at the Oceano Hotel- the grand ballroom was perfectly decorated for the wedding celebration!Such a great idea for table assignments!Hari showed up in the lobby looking so handsome in his navy and black tux! Then the elevator doors opened and out came Aparna in a new sari, looking sensational and ready for the big celebration! To kick off the celebration, the wedding party paraded in! Some a little more cool than others!!Aparna’s parents brought great delight as they danced their way in!And the newlyweds did not disappoint as they shimmied their way to the head table bringing everyone to their feet!The toasts started off with Hari’s groomsman, Abhik.
Wedding toasts are one of my favorite parts of a wedding day. It’s amazing to hear the stories and see the array of expressions and emotions from everyone. Hari’s groomsman Justin.Aparna’s sister in law Chau.Aparna’s brother Anup. Aparna’s sister Aditi. Hari’s groomswoman, Swetha.
Hari’s brother Nandu.
And to wrap it all up, Aparna’s parents. Hari and Aparna then said a few words, Hari thanked everyone for coming and the great toasts etc….Aparna then spoke about Hari and said sweet and lovely words about him… notice Hari’s face? The look of “Oh no, I didn’t mention my WIFE?!”And so he grabbed the mic back and tried to dig himself out of what might be his first marriage hole… it was hysterical!!! These two should have a comedy show!During dinner, outside the fog was rolling in perfectly on cue with sunset. This made for a stunning Half Moon Bay sky! We rushed back in to let Aparna and Hari know that the sunset was photo-worthy and the two ran out for a few minutes! It was perfect timing for the light and they also got to do a quick practice run of their first dance!A little friend popped his head out to say hello!!Aparna and Hari’s rings! I love her engagement ring- so elegant and colorful!Aparna and Hari’s first dance was pretty amazing, they even ended with a lift and a dip!!!Just as they finished, the dance floor was bombarded by their friends breaking out into a Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) flash mob! During the dance Hari’s shoes appeared. The tradition states that the bride’s side is supposed to steal the groom’s shoes and he only gets them back after giving gifts to her side of the family. Sometimes, the groom’s side wins and they protect the shoes way too well! That’s what happened with Hari’s shoes. Hari’s friends protected his shoes throughout the day and we didn’t see them again until the dance floor!
Hari’s shoes!! The dance floor then erupted and was packed all night!
One little cutie was more than a little excited for the cake to be cut!
Photographing down directly on the dance floor?! Go Pro on a drone? Nope! To my great surprise I was escorted to the roof by one of the employees of the Oceano for a view of the party that no one was expecting! The roof the this room is glass and looking down in the dark I got to see all the beautiful colors of this festive wedding! Such a cool way to get a group shot!Knowing that everyone might want a little snack before the end of the evening, Aparna and Hari had a popcorn and candy bar set up!Like the good doctors that they are, everything was appropriately labeled for Justin- their groomsman who has a nut allergy!
Friends attempted popcorn tricks… coordination may have been affected by this time in the evening!
Aparna and Hari, thank you so much for putting your trust in us to document your amazing wedding day! It was such an incredible day from start to finish! Keep up all that amazing laughter and fun!!
Such an honor to work with all these amazing vendors!
Venue: Oceano Hotel & Spa
Hair/Makeup: J’adore Beauty
DJ: DJ Salim
Mehendi (Henna): Ravie Keyuris
Florist: Nasreen Ahmed
Catering: New Delhi Restaurant