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testarossa-winery-weddingXenia and Alex’s love story is like out of a novel. Xenia moved from Russia to America when she was young and met Alex on the East coast.  They were in high school and became friends and did a lot of back porch hanging out.  Like most people after high school they lost touch.  Alex had moved to the West coast and thanks to Facebook, Alex learned that Xenia had also moved to California.  All those years and all those miles lead them to this incredible moment, their wedding day. Surrounded by family and great friends and the gorgeous Testarossa Winery eating scrumptious food and drinking delicious wine, it was the perfect celebration of Xenia and Alex! testarossa-winery-winetestarossa-winery-wedding-3-of-108Xenia got ready with help from her Mom, Alex’s Mom and of course, her best ladies! Xenia’s Mom had her work cut out for her with all those delicate little buttons!
testarossa-winery-wedding-5-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-6-of-108It takes a village!testarossa-winery-wedding-2-of-108Meanwhile the guys were also getting ready, though I’m not sure Alex needed 5 helpers to get dressed like Xenia did! testarossa-winery-wedding-4-of-108Two of Alex’s groomsmen helped Alex learn the intricacies of a “first touch” that he would soon be having with Xenia!
wedding-grooms-giftToo much goofing around meant the groomsmen got kicked out and Alex was able to open his gift from Xenia. They were cufflinks that say “meet me on the back porch at 6:30”
testarossa-winery-wedding-8-of-108With Alex in position and emotions high, Xenia arrives for her “first touch” then “first look” with Alex.

testarossa-winery-wedding-9-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-10-of-108Love this!  So much anticipation!testarossa-winery-wedding-11-of-108The moment they had both been waiting for!
testarossa-winery-wedding-12-of-108With the sun shining and the clock ticking, we ventured outside for some more pictures. Always fun to walk through the outside cafe and enjoy the reaction from the crowd!testarossa-winery-wedding-13-of-108Testarossa is a stunning winery with an old school charm. This little doorway covered in ivy is one of my favorite little nooks!testarossa-winery-wedding-14-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-photographytestarossa-winery-wedding-16-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-17-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-26-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-18-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-19-of-108We left the winery and headed up the road just a bit to where the light was glowing in that good old California way! testarossa-winery-wedding-picturestestarossa-winery-wedding-21-of-108With these two and their constant smiles it really made our job so easy!testarossa-winery-wedding-22-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-23-of-108Back at the ceremony site everything was set up and ready for the wedding! And yes… those are wine glasses, wait till you see how they are used!

testarossa-winery-wedding-29-of-108Alex and Xenia’s Mom walked down the aisle together.testarossa-winery-wedding-30-of-108Followed by Alex’s parents.testarossa-winery-wedding-31-of-108Next up were the officiants.testarossa-winery-wedding-32-of-108The awesome wedding party!testarossa-winery-wedding-33-of-108The adorable flower girls followed doing a wonderful job of spreading joy and rose petals!
testarossa-winery-wedding-34-of-108And this handsome guy was the bearer of great news!testarossa-winery-wedding-35-of-108Here comes the bride is right! I love the hill behind the ceremony site at Testarossa, it offers a unique position for my 2nd shooter.
testarossa-winery-wedding-36-of-108Xenia is escorted down the aisle by her Dad. testarossa-winery-wedding-37-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-38-of-108As the officiants began to speak, Alex and Xenia could not peel their eyes off each other!testarossa-winery-wedding-42-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-47-of-108Both families looked on with so much happiness!
testarossa-winery-wedding-46-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-39-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-43-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-44-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-40-of-108Xenia and Alex both wrote personal vows to each other.  There was not a dry eye in the house- including mine! The vows were funny and sweet and touching and adorable and and and I could go on and on! Seriously, great job Xenia and Alex at ramping up the emotions of everyone!!testarossa-winery-wedding-45-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-48-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-50-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-49-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-51-of-108And although I think everyone could have listened to their sweet devotions to one another a little longer, it was time!

testarossa-winery-wedding-53-of-108Kiss that bride!!
testarossa-winery-wedding-54-of-108And that wine?  They poured it for one another and toasted to their new life as a married couple!!!!testarossa-winery-wedding-55-of-108Cheers!testarossa-winery-wedding-56-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-57-of-108Celebrating with their wedding party!testarossa-winery-wedding-58-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-59-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-60-of-108After some family pictures we had a few more minutes to take some pictures at the ceremony site. That is the smile of one happy married woman!testarossa-winery-wedding-61-of-108
testarossa-winery-wedding-62-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-63-of-108These two!!
testarossa-winery-wedding-64-of-108The sun was setting and it was time to move into the gorgeous winery. I loved the unique the escort cards display and of course, the map showing the journey of their love story!testarossa-winery-wedding-27-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-28-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-65-of-108Xenia and Alex kicked off the evening’s festivities with a show stopping first dance! Photographs do not do their dance justice!  Great thing they will have an amazing wedding film created by the talented Ric and Rose of Grover Films. testarossa-winery-wedding-66-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-67-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-68-of-108And it ended with a dramatic dip!testarossa-winery-wedding-69-of-108And then a kiss!testarossa-winery-wedding-24-of-108It was time now to sit and enjoy a meal together! testarossa-winery-wedding-25-of-108

testarossa-winery-wedding-74-of-108Xenia’s Dad started off the toasts and gave the newlyweds some beautiful wine glasses that lean towards each other.
testarossa-winery-wedding-73-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-78-of-108Then Alex’s Mom shared some funny stories of when Alex and Xenia were in high school at the beginning of their back porch sitting days!

testarossa-winery-wedding-79-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-83-of-108Xenia and her Dad started off the parent dances!testarossa-winery-wedding-84-of-108Not your average father/daughter dance, they also did a choreographed dance that delighted the crowd!testarossa-winery-wedding-82-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-87-of-108Alex then took his Mom out onto the dance floor- they might not have had all those fancy dips and turns but it was sweetness overload for sure!testarossa-winery-wedding-86-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-85-of-108
testarossa-winery-wedding-88-of-108The dance floor was now open and the party started! testarossa-winery-wedding-89-of-108This crowd had no problem getting right in there!testarossa-winery-wedding-90-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-91-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-92-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-93-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-94-of-108Even the littlest one was on the dance floor!testarossa-winery-wedding-95-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-96-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-97-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-98-of-108And while everyone else was shaking their thing, can you guess who was still beaming at each other?
Jens Cakes HELLLOOOO delicious desserts that were definitely too pretty to eat! Look at these little works of dessert art!testarossa-winery-wedding-100-of-108testarossa-winery-wedding-101-of-108They were nice! I mean wouldn’t you with that gorgeous dress?!  Well played, Alex!testarossa-winery-wedding-102-of-108The newlyweds then so sweetly thanked everyone for helping make their wedding day come together so perfectly!testarossa-wedding-picturesI stole away the fancy dancing duo to get a picture of the dip in the stunning wine cave!wedding ringstestarossa-winery-wedding-105-of-108-wedding-selfieOne day the grandchildren will ask, “what was everyone doing?” I love capturing moments of pop culture on a wedding day! One day it will be history! testarossa-winery-wedding-107-of-108Last-danceAnd during the last song Xenia and Alex gave one more dip as an exclamation mark on the evening!

Congratulations Xenia and Alex-keep on dancing, laughing, smiling and of course, back porch hanging!

A big thank you to all vendors involved:

Venue: Testarossa Winery

Florist: Bloomers Flowers

Entertainment: Sound in Motion

Video: Grover Films

Hair and make up: Courtney Saechao

Dress: Stella York

Cake: Jen’s Cakes

Dessert: Francicakes  and Chacatoo

Photography: Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling

And a HUGE thank you to Andrea from Testrossa for making the whole day run so smoothly!




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On a beautiful sunny California day Xenia, Alex and I went into a bar… sounds like the beginning of a joke but it’s not. It was the beginning of some serious fun and photo inspiration to take their engagement pictures on what I like to call a photowalk. This place, Trials Pub in San Jose, has so much character! And it was clear the second we walked in that these two have enjoyed many times there. You could feel the history they have there. There is nothing like your local watering hole. It reminded me of stories my parents would tell about pubs back in England and Ireland. Places not just about getting drinks but about creating community. A place where people can come together and let the outside world slip away.

For these pictures the pub was not yet open, so we had the place to ourselves thanks to the bartender that let us in.  Away from the eyes of strangers on the street watching us take pictures, I could observe the ease that Xenia and Alex have with each other.  The way Alex looks at Xenia- every girls dream. He makes Xenia beam with such a bright and sometimes sassy smile- and that is every guys dream! These two are perfect for each other.


san-jose-engagement-pictures-susannah-gill_0153We did make it out into the daylight! Though we could have stay in that pub alllllll day long, it was so cozy and welcoming.  Just down the street we found this gorgeous light but it had a yucky parking behind it. But with the right lens and their massive cuteness to distract you, one wouldn’t even know it!san-jose-engagement-pictures-susannah-gill_0155I left these two heading off into downtown San Jose to enjoy the rest of their evening! Perfect that in this last image Alex was admiring his beautiful soon to be wife and Xenia was smiling from ear to ear with a happiness that only Alex can give her!

These two lovies are tying the knot soon at Testarossa Winery and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to photograph all their little glances, smiles and eyebrow raises that they give each other! Congratulations Xenia and Alex!

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Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0015

Welcome back to Smitha and Miraj’s wedding celebration part 2! If you happened to miss the first blog post of the wedding ceremony please check it out here… but then come right back!

After Smitha & Miraj’s wedding ceremony at The Mountain Winery, everyone headed to The Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.  Way up high in the Penthouse that was so big that it could have housed a small village, Smitha was on one side with her ladies and Miraj was on the other with the guys.

Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0016Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0017Smitha had a whole new hair style, make up and another sensational outfit!
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Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0127Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0021Smitha set up a beautiful table with gifts for her ladies!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0022Tears were rolling and champagne was popping!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0023Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0024Down the hall the boys were enjoying a game of strategy- washed down with beer. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0025Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0026Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0027The guys got some gifts too, including these fun, perhaps maturity level appropriate socks! Just kidding guys!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0028Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0029
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0030Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0031Cheers!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0032In the middle the two groups met up for a big group picture!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0033With the cocktail hour under way, we stole into the hallway for some portraits in Smitha and Miraj’s reception outfits. Having done a First Look in the morning, we did just a short 15 minutes of pictures here. They nailed it!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0034Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0035Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0036Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0037Smitha’s intricate henna created a Peacock when her hands were put together.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0038Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0039Check out this wedding weekend celebration lineup! Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0040Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0041WOW!!! Look at this ballroom! Such an incredible job by all those who worked so hard to create this elegant evening!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0042Smitha and Miraj’s sweetheart table had a little flower wall behind it consisting of over 1,000 roses! Besides being so beautiful to look at, it smelled amazing!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0044Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0045Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0046All the other floral arrangements were just as magical too!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0048Water Lily Pond FloristIndian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0050Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0053Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0051Those stunning glittering Rose Gold tablecloths made a great ring backdrop!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0055It was time to celebrate! The siblings and nieces were announced into the ballroom.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0057Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0056Followed by Miraj’s parents…Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0058…then Smitha’s parents!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0059The main attraction then danced their way though a line created by their friends!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0061The newlyweds!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0062The two families then danced together on the dance floor!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0063Everyone took their seats and I couldn’t help but smile seeing Smitha and Miraj taking a selfie at their sweetheart table! Love it! This to me is part of our history.  One day their grandchildren might look at this picture and say “What were you holding in your hand?!”Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0064The toasts at this wedding were some of the best and funniest I have ever heard! The first toast was given by Miraj’s sister and brother. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0065Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0066Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0068Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0069Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0071Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0072Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0074Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0075Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0076Followed by Smitha’s brother. Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0077Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0070Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0079Next up was Miraj’s parents.
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0081Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0082Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0083Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0080Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0084Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0085Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0086Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0088Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0089Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0132Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0138Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0093Great job by everyone expressing their love and happiness for Smitha and Miraj! One of my favorite lines from the toasts was, “May your only pain be Champagne!”Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0094Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0087Smitha and Miraj spoke last thanking everyone so sincerely for coming from near and far to celebrate with them.
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0095Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0096Smitha and Miraj looked too good for me not to ask them to glam it up for me at the sweetheart table!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0097Smitha and Miraj then descended onto the ballroom and had their first dance as husband and wife!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0098Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0100
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0101Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0102Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0103Smitha was then joined by her father and Miraj by his mother for a side by side parent dance.Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0104Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0105Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0106Without a second to spare, the dance floor started up and everyone joined in!Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0107
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0109Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0110Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0111This little one was the life of the party!
Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0113Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0133Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0114Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0118This wedding reception was SO much fun! The high energy was so contagious! Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0119Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0120Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0122Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0136Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0137Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0123Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0116Indian Wedding Fairmont Hotel- Susannah Gill_0125As we were heading out the door, we looked back and saw this. A full-on dance party with so much enthusiasm, perfect to celebrate Smitha and Miraj’s marriage! Smitha and Miraj, thank you for the incredible honor of documenting your wedding! We wish you a lifetime of love, fun and velvet cupcakes!


Venue: Fairmont Hotel

Wedding Planner: Avant Planners

Caterer: Jalsa Catering and Events

Henna artist:Keyuri’s

Florist: Water Lily Pond

Linens: Fine Linen Creation

Hair and Makeup:

Videographer: Kindlewood Films

Photographer: Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling










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Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4858Within the first 20 minutes of meeting Smitha and Miraj they bought me a Red Velvet cupcake. Not just any Red Velvet cupcake- the best one I’ve ever had!  From observing these two on their wedding day with their friends and family, that just seems to be how they operate, fully enjoying life and celebrating it with others! Cupcakes included!

Let’s take a second to move away from cupcakes and talk about this incredibly beautiful wedding! The Mountain Winery  has endless views that were the perfect backdrop for this Mandap brilliantly created by Water Lily Pond. This Mandap was extraordinary!!

The events of this wedding day were incredibly orchestrated by Avant Planners. I cannot rave enough about them!

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4859Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4860Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4861Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4862Smitha and Miraj’s wedding day was packed full of events that started early in the day. They decided to have a first look in the part of Mt. Winery called The Meadow. Here Miraj is waiting patiently as we get Smitha into place. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4863Smitha, looking so lovely, is in place and ready to go!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4864The best- those moments right before you are about to see each other on your wedding day!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4865Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4866Those smiles!  That view! Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4867Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4868Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4869Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4870Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4871Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4872After taking a minute to enjoy the views, Miraj left for his Baraat and Smitha returned to the bridal suite. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4873Miraj’s Baraat started at the bottom of the hill.  He was greeted by his Mom with a huge hug to start off the celebration!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4874With a DJ on wheels and dhal players keeping the beat- all the groom’s family and friends, they made their way joyously up the hill!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4875Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4876Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4877Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4878Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4879As they approached the top of the hill, Smitha’s family was waiting for them!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4880The Milni took place next, a ceremony where both families exchange well wishes on meeting each other.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4882Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4883Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4884The guests involved in the Baraat then found their seats.  Sweets were provided as well as umbrellas and fans to stay cool from the midday sun.
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4885Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4886Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4887An abundance of adorableness!!! Smitha’s sister with her 3 daughters and Smitha’s sister in law with her daughter, came down the aisle first and spread some happiness!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4888Smitha’s entrance was so dramatic!  She was carried in by family members on a Dholi, which tradition says is to treat her like a Princess. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4889Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4890Smitha was then escorted down the aisle by her parents. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4891Miraj’s view of Smitha was concealed by a veil held by his family members. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4892Waiting patiently!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4893Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4894The veil was lowered in an exciting moment where Smitha and Miraj got to see each other. Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4895Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4896They then exchanged garlands, called Jaimala, signifying accepting each other and respecting each other as partners.

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4897The wedding was conducted in Hindu and consisted of many small ceremonies. What I love most about Indian weddings is the involvement of both sets of families in the ceremonies.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4898Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4899Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4900Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4901Smitha’s sister carries out a tray of fruit into the audience for blessings.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4902Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4903Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4904Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4905Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4907Miraj ties a Mangalsutra necklace around Smitha to symbolize marriage.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4906Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4910Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4909Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4911

During Kanyadanam, the father of the bride places her hand in the groom’s hand requesting him to accept her as an equal partner.

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4912Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4913Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4914Miraj and Smitha then spoke beautiful, touching and funny words to each other!
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4915Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4917Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4918Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4919Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4920During the Havan ceremony, the couple invokes Agni, the god of Fire, to witness their commitment to each other. Crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar, rice and oil are offered to the ceremonial fire.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4921Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4916Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4922During Hasth Melap, the bride and groom offer the rice as a sacrifice into the fire.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4923Smitha and Miraj take seven steps together representing the vows and promises they are making to each other. Here are what each of the 7 steps represents.

First step: To respect and honor each other

Second step: To share each other’s joy and sorrow

Third step: To trust and be loyal to each other

Fourth step: To cultivate appreciation for knowledge, values, sacrifice and service

Fifth step: To reconfirm their vow of purity, love family duties and spiritual growth

Sixth step: To follow principles of Dharma (righteousness)

Seventh step: To nurture an eternal bond of friendship and love

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4924Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4925Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4926Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4927Smitha and Miraj are then asked to smear a paste made from cumin seeds and jaggery on each other while taking a vow to face the future together. The jaggery represents the sweetness life may have and the cumin represents the bittiness it may have as well. Having smeared this on each other it symbolizes that their relationship is unbreakable and inseparable.
Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4928Aashirvad, a parental blessing, the parents of the bride and groom give their blessings to the couple. The couple touches the feet of their parents as a sign of respect.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4929A fun moment that everyone enjoyed was when Smitha and Miraj went back and forth pouring and dumping the rice on each other’s heads! This ritual is called Talambraalu and this signifies joy and happiness in marriage, along with prosperity Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4930Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4931Miraj places a ring on Smitha’s toe and finger.Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4932The wedding ceremony has come to an end!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4933The newlyweds!Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4934Miraj sweeps Smitha up and carries her away!!!

Click here for part 2 of this wedding day story!




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Susannah Gill_4724I first met JD years ago while photographing his brother Greg’s wedding.  JD was the best man and he gave a hysterical toast that had everyone laughing. I remember Tammy from that day too- every time I looked at her she was smiling and cracking up over something!  So I was more than thrilled when I was hired to photograph Tammy & JD’s wedding!  Years later from that wedding, these two are still smiling and making everyone laugh. Their enthusiasm for having a great time is contagious. Their wedding felt like a big fun picnic and I imagined that is exactly what they were hoping for. Family, friends, games and an abundance of fun to celebrate their love!Susannah Gill_4725Tammy and JD both got ready at the Saratoga Inn- their rooms just right next door to each other!  Susannah Gill_4726Susannah Gill_4727Tammy’s Mom and sister bring down the dress- it’s time! Tammy is going to be doing a quick step in as later you will see her getting ready again- next time in the forest!Susannah Gill_4728Susannah Gill_4729Why girlfriends are so awesome and important!

Susannah Gill-Indian wedding_4935Just next door the guys were doing their thing. Susannah Gill_4731How awesome are those groomsmen gifts?!

Susannah Gill_4730Looking sharp JD!Susannah Gill_4732Susannah Gill_4733Susannah Gill_4734Off to Saratoga Springs! Susannah Gill_4735The guys! Susannah Gill_4736The beautiful ladies! Susannah Gill_4737Tammy dreamed of getting ready in the forest with a mirror. Dreams do come true and it was so cool!  Surrounded by trees, a stream and her ladies- Tammy finished getting ready for her First Look with JD.

Susannah Gill_4738Susannah Gill_4739Susannah Gill_4740It was time for the First Look. Tammy’s ladies left the scene while her sister stayed back to help. While Tammy and her sister hid, Greg and I got JD into position on the bridge.  Once we were in position we gave the signal.  The energy in the air was amazing, First Looks are always so exciting!Susannah Gill_4741Susannah Gill_4742The tap- the smiles- love it!Susannah Gill_4743Susannah Gill_4744Susannah Gill_4745Such a sweet moment when JD sees Tammy!Susannah Gill_4746Susannah Gill_4748Perfection!
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Susannah Gill_4754Tammy and JD had such a fun bridal party!Susannah Gill_4755Susannah Gill_4756Haha, they know how to make the tough faces too!  Well…everyone but someone 😉Susannah Gill_4757Susannah Gill_4758Susannah Gill_4759Tammy’s flower girls arrived and were so excited to see Tammy! This picture just melts my heart!Susannah Gill_4760Tammy and JD’s wedding took place at the Longbridge section of Saratoga Springs. Tammy’s Mom did such a great job bringing together all the signage and decorations to make their wedding so personalized and beautiful.Susannah Gill_4761Tammy and JD’s friends dress up as the characters from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’Susannah Gill_4762Susannah Gill_4763JD escorted both the Moms down the aisle! So cute!Susannah Gill_4764Next up was the bridal party!Susannah Gill_4765Susannah Gill_4766Susannah Gill_4767Susannah Gill_4768Tammy’s brother with JD’s sister!Susannah Gill_4769The Best Man, JD’s brother with the Matron of Honor, Tammy’s sister.Susannah Gill_4770The flower girls came through spreading so much joy and of course flower petals!Susannah Gill_4771The handsome young ring bearer took his job very seriously and the rings arrived safety!Susannah Gill_4772Tammy was escorted down the aisle by her Dad. Susannah Gill_4773Susannah Gill_4774Susannah Gill_4775Such a sweet moment!Susannah Gill_4776So pretty!  The dress color Tammy chose for her bridesmaids was just perfect amongst all the greenery of the venue. Susannah Gill_4777Susannah Gill_4778Susannah Gill_4779One of the reasons why Tammy and JD fell in love with this venue is the old bridge that becomes part of the stunning backdrop. Susannah Gill_4780Susannah Gill_4781Susannah Gill_4782Something funny happened, I’m not sure what but I love the way Tammy laughs, full of happiness and great joy!Susannah Gill_4783Susannah Gill_4784Susannah Gill_4785Vows and rings were exchanged….Susannah Gill_4786JD’s ring proved to be a little harder to get on!Susannah Gill_4787Kiss the bride!!!!Susannah Gill_4788Susannah Gill_4789With great enthusiasm these two ran up the aisle and into the sunshine!Susannah Gill_4790Love it!!!Susannah Gill_4791The bridal party, this time with the little ones too! Susannah Gill_4792And then just these precious little ones!Susannah Gill_4793It was time for the cocktail party! Drinks were poured and the games began!Susannah Gill_4794Susannah Gill_4795Susannah Gill_4796Susannah Gill_4797Susannah Gill_4798Susannah Gill_4799Susannah Gill_4800Susannah Gill_4801Susannah Gill_4803Susannah Gill_4804Meanwhile, the tables were transformed with the wedding decor! The place looked stunning!Susannah Gill_4805Susannah Gill_4806Susannah Gill_4807The sweetheart table was extra special with their personalized champagne flutes, forks and this fun plate!Susannah Gill_4808
Susannah Gill_4810The view of the reception area from the other side of the bridge. Susannah Gill_4811Tammy and JD ran into their reception too… Tammy chose my favorite kind of shoes to wear! Susannah Gill_4812Susannah Gill_4813Susannah Gill_4814Tammy’s Mom started off the toasts. Susannah Gill_4815Susannah Gill_4816Susannah Gill_4817Susannah Gill_4818Followed by JD’s Dad.Susannah Gill_4819Susannah Gill_4820Susannah Gill_4821Susannah Gill_4822Susannah Gill_4823Next up was Tammy’s sister. Susannah Gill_4824Susannah Gill_4825Susannah Gill_4826Susannah Gill_4827Susannah Gill_4828And last but not least, JD’s brother and best man!Susannah Gill_4829Susannah Gill_4830Susannah Gill_4831Last up was Tammy and JD who thanked everyone for making their day so special!Susannah Gill_4832Susannah Gill_4833Susannah Gill_4834The sun went down and the light faded fast. But that was more than fine as the venue was transformed into a magical place with twinkly lights all around!  The fire was also lit making it time for everyone’s favorite- S’mores!Susannah Gill_4835Susannah Gill_4836Tammy and JD started their first dance off like everyone else- sweet and slow- when suddenly it wasn’t…
Susannah Gill_4838The two started swinging each other around as the crowd cheered them on!Susannah Gill_4839Susannah Gill_4840On top of a tower of cupcakes sat the sweetest little cake. Behind that tower of YUM was an antique desk with its drawers filled with flowers and more treats! Everything was so beautiful AND delicious!Susannah Gill_4841Susannah Gill_4842Susannah Gill_4843Tammy and JD cut the cake!  Then Tammy had to make up for wiping JD’s face with frosting with a sweet kiss!Susannah Gill_4844Susannah Gill_4845Moving on to more traditions, Tammy threw her bouquet and JD went searching for a garter! Tammy’s expression is priceless!Susannah Gill_4846Susannah Gill_4847Perhaps not a true wedding tradition but I’d vote for it to become one. Good old Flip Cup! If you have played, you know the fun and if you have never played you are greatly missing out!Susannah Gill_4848As the evening moved on, the dance floor got moving!
Susannah Gill_4849Susannah Gill_4850Susannah Gill_4851As we left, the night was still going strong.  Everyone was having so much fun either dancing, playing games or enjoying endless sweets!  Tammy and JD, we wish you a lifetime of happiness, belly laughs and games- especially flip cup!

Hotel: The Inn at Saratoga

Dress: Bolee Bridal 

Venue & Caterer: Saratoga Springs 

DJ: Alex Wrigley

Cake and cupcakes: Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos

Photography: Susannah Gill-Photographic Storytelling






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