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Mena and Ashwin’s Wedding: Two Days of Indian Delight

DragonChick: Body Art Session
June 18, 2009
BloggEd: Zorz Studios’ Blog Junkie Contest
July 12, 2009

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At the beginning of this long holiday week-end, we covered a two-day Indian wedding of Mena and Ashwin. Our connection was a perfect example of a long-distance booking. Mena, who is from California, found me about a year ago via one of the online listings that I employ and where I am periodically featured, WedPlan.net. As she wrote to her wedding webpage’s guests,

“I […] fell in love with his work immediately!  I told Ash the minute I saw his photographs that I had found the perfect photographer to capture the days details and events.  Aside from being a talented artist Ed is extremely personable and a pleasure to work with.”

Although we haven’t met until about two weeks before the wedding, we have had no problems sharing our vision and expectations. The entire booking process was smoothly handled by Zorz Studios’ online booking system, integrating e-mail, billing, and legal components along the way.

The wedding was held in New York where Mena moved just recently, jumping not only on finalizing all the wedding arrangements but also on her continued education. On top of these challenges, her fiance was dealing with relocating and settling in a new position in Philadelphia, where the couple is moving eventually. Hats off for braving it all at once.

Similar to a high-profile Pakistani wedding that I shot in Manhattan’s Gotham Hall, this wedding was a sheer galore of colors and warmth, dancing and happiness. Traditionally, the wedding day was preceded by Mehndi/Sangeet, preparation of the bride to the wedding when Henna was applied to her palms and feet. This was accompanied by a large fest organized by the groom’s family the night before the wedding day in Westchester. Ash arrived on a white horse, escorted by jubilant family members. Later, small fireworks marked Mena’s arrival. Watching the stage performance by family members, Olga and I were amazed by their diversity of talents, eliminating the need to hire any outside professional performers! It almost looked like a mini-episode of American Idol. 🙂

We returned the following morning to the groom’s parents’ house, location of the wedding ceremony. Since our hotel was within a 3-mile radius, we could arrive early enough to catch the cute sights of walking pajamas and sleepy heads. After a quick briefing, we pulled out our cameras and started to shoot everything in our way as there was no lack of details and action. A highlight of the wedding day morning was, undoubtedly, the fabulous makeup work done by no one less but the bride’s mother, herself a stunning lady remaining unbelievably tranquil and poised (pictured with Mena on the left).

A praise would be incomplete without mentioning of Renu, who graciously created an ensemble of bride’s hair, jewelery, fresh-cut flowers, and embellished sari.

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After the beautifully complex and captivating Hindu wedding ceremony, we did formal portraits of both families, and then were given a tiny bit of our own time with the couple… What is 45 minutes to two artists overloaded with ideas and energy? Alas, not much. Our list of shots (not the routine one but the creative, know-how list) was barely touched… It is always painful to hear our couples say “it is time, we have to go”, and this couple was kind of cruel (um… just kidding) in teasing us but not giving us a whole day for a photo shoot! I understand… the day is packed. Let’s drink to the engagement and bridal sessions! Anyhow, we just made do with a lawn by the house and a cool all-mirror bathroom in the neighbors’ house “which some people love and some people hate”, as say the owners… As for me, I walked out of that bathroom thanking them for it! See the photo of cloned Mena below. As un-Vougesque as it sounds, she is standing on a toilet… Who knew?

We caught some breath on our way from the house in Mahopac to Tarrytown, where the reception at the Tappan Hill Mansion was held, the former estate of Mark Twain in the scenic Hudson Valley. The crowd, energized by DJ Vic, partied past midnight. It is amazing how contemporary Indian music, mixed with Western, is capable of pulling the majority of the audience, from youngest to oldest, to the shaking  dance floor… Man, I felt myself Indian there!!!

Yet another highlight of this glorious celebration was the presence of a family member, an Academy Award nominated Indian-American filmmaker and screenwriter who directed several blockbusters.

Well, it is past 4:00 in the morning and I have just about two hours left to sleep. Let’s stop here for now. Check back for more photos, details, and some behind-the-scene footage… Note that the photos above are just a glimpse of our favorites. They were post-processed by me in a uniform, discretionary matter, not necessarily reflecting clients’ preference. Many months of preparing the materials for the fine art wedding album are yet to come.

Comments are welcomed!

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08/01/2009 update: After a sleepless night, I prepared the slideshow and I like it. Here are the promised behind-the-scene shots: 🙂

Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.