Compared to my multiple wedding gigs in India, this Indian wedding in Philadelphia felt local to me, yet treated me to the same warmth, ecstasy, brilliance, and passion.
I was recommended to Shruti and Milan by another Indian wedding client, who in turn was referred to me by a dear friend who brought me for her wedding in India, the first of my trips there. Shruti’s engagement session in Philadelphia was a perfect mix of glam and giggles, and so turned their wedding!
As with most Indian weddings, the event spanned several days, starting with a cozy homemade Mehndi party to decorate women’s hands with the stunning henna designs. The ambiance of interweaving hands and henna strokes has always fascinated me. The following day, Sangeet at the National Museum of American Jewish History, immersed me into one of my favorite parts of some Indian weddings, Dandiya Raas (or stick dance), a traditional folk dance originating in Gujarat area of India. The stick dance is just one of the pre-wedding party’s festivities and amusements. What always gets me is how family members and friends, from young to aged, participate in those amateur performance acts with a sole goal of funneling the love and joy onto the marrying couple. I have seen similar acts and plays in some Russian-speaking wedding crowds, too, by the way. By far, such guest participation is head above traditional Western toasts. 🙂
And then comes the third, actual wedding day. One of its highlights is Baraat, or groom’s formal arrival to the bride. The wedding venue Crystal Tea Room is located in the center across from Philadelphia’s City Hall, so the police had to close off and reroute traffic in the area, reminding me of a similar debauchery in NYC when the police closed off no less than the Columbus Circle for an Indian wedding at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. So with those speakers, it was some LOUD morning for Philadelphia… An officer couldn’t resist filming this on his phone, as most of the pedestrians.
You may spot another fun Indian wedding tradition of stealing groom’s shoe by the bride’s allies and then negotiating the ransom from the poor guy. Russians have a similar escapade but it is the bride that gets stolen from the groom. You can imagine the hike in the ransom…
And of course, what Zorz Studios wedding is without some striking portraiture beyond the traditional portraits which I skip in the blog, as well as valuable but regular family photos, be I forgiven by the family members (you will see every beautiful photo in the full gallery created just for the couple and family in about a week).
The first-ever and unusual turn in this wedding was my early departure in the middle of the reception, pre-approved by the couple. The cause was exceptional: I had to leave to make it back to NYC, grab my daughter, and fly across the ocean for my own little wedding. My assistants, wonderful Halit Onder and Bill Heemer, stood behind to masterfully finish the reception coverage.
Enjoy, and remember: to see images in full size, just click them.