Sometimes the whirlwind of memories of a wedding are like a dream. And like describing a dream, I don’t quite know where to start. Perhaps the best way to begin is to go back two years. Then, I received a simple, wonderfully romantic email from Deepak, who lives in Canada. He simply wrote:
I am a student from Vancouver, Canada and was coming to New York May 14-18. I was planning on proposing to my girlfriend in Manhattan and was hoping to have a photographer to make it a bit more special.”
I am always excited shoot surprise proposals! We talked on the phone and arranged that the proposal will take place in the courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel. While we were in frequent email contact, I actually never met Deepak before. Deepak’s best friend Raakhi sent me a wonderful description to help me get to know their personalities and she also sent pictures of them in an email so I could recognize them. I saved it and include it her as I found it then and in retrospect, very illuminating- a factual and poetic descriotion.
“I can tell you a little about Deepak:
Deepak is a goofy genius pediatrician who is metro sexual and dashingly handsome. ALL the aunties love him, he is a mother in law’s dream. Let me explain… he is responsible, never goes back on his word, always takes out the garbage, very clean, trendy, on time, creative, artistic, loves to dance, can cook, make conversation across the board from politics to national geographic. He loves looking 007/GQ in his photos.
Again he loves to dance… Bollywood style :) He love his Indian background. All of it, the clothes the food, the music, the dance the family values and the parties! On the flip side of his perfection… he cant sing even if his life depended on it, he has more than a handful of embarrassing moments (including sliding down a muddy hill in the rain in white jeans) … he has a bad habit for expensive haircuts, is a bit of a bargain basement shopper on the top brands in the city therefore justifying his expenditures, he can scream so loud you’d hear it down the block. Will happily admit he is a lover of “soft rock” and owns (no kidding) EVERY mariah carey cd, been to her concert twice and has MC apparel to top it off. Sick sense of Humor and often makes himself laugh but has the fastest wit of anyone I’ve ever met.
He’s a love sicko and wants the Bollywood movie romance, (which Monisha also happily wants) of glances from across the room, subtle body language that shows their affinity towards each other and the simplicity of emotions through their eyes. Their song right now is ” Halo” by Beyonce They also like that “marry me Juliet” Song by Taylor Swift In Monisha, its in the details of a spinning skirt or wind in her hair that he finds beautiful. Her dimple on her cheek and her perfect smooth skin. He loves it when she wears heels or a new lip gloss, its the fact that she’s a girly girl.
Monisha is a quiet but not shy, hard-working lady. She’s an optometry student and the two of them have had a long distance relationship for about 2 years now. She is conservative and an amazing Indian classical dancer. She moves with grace and has an appreciation for Indian culture. She is very logical and has great insight. She has a sister 10 years younger and I’ve always known her as the Nice girl. She spends lots of time with her family when she is in town and when she is away she studies hard. She is independent and warm. Neither of them are irrational but they’re kiddishly goofy. They just want this to be the “love of their life.”
When the day itself arrived, I met Deepak in the planned courtyard. Monisha was very surprised and the picture below really captures the moment and tells the story about how she felt when Deepak bent down and took out the ring.
A year and a half later, I received an email from Deepak that made me smile and jump up in excitement:
“It is Deepak and Monisha (you did our engagement shots on May 17, 2009), and we finally have decided on a Wedding date. We are planning our Wedding for Friday, June 24 and our Wedding Reception for Saturday, June 25, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We had such an amazing experience and connection with you for our Engagement that we were hoping to have you capture our Wedding here. It would be a vibrant Indian wedding with a fusion of Western customs. Please let us know if you would be available and interested in sharing this moment with us.”
That email contained everything that I wanted to hear. It was from an amazing couple, beautiful inside and out. It was an Indian wedding, which any artist will tell you is so brimming with excitement and colors, that it is just seventh heaven to photograph. And of course it was in Vancouver, where I had never shot before and thus would be doubly inspired. I was racing to check my availability, crossing fingers on the way, and thank heaven I was free and immediately answered ‘Yes!’
Monisha was meticulously organized and considerate. Consumed with final exams, I am not sure how she stayed abreast of everything, but every detail was carefully taken care of and extra attention paid to the needs of her appreciative photographer. As the day approached, Monisha and Deepak sent me photos of their family with their names written on each one, so I could identify them, as well as pictures of the Temple. An upon arrival, even though we could have cabbed it, she arranged to have her friend Monica meet us at the airport. Monica gave us pre-paid train tickets, keys to their beautiful apartment and maps. Then, at the apartment, there was a wonderful welcoming letter and a basket with Canadian goodies. With all that attention, I felt that I could have been getting married!
Along with my second shooter Paul, we shot for two days, the first day being the wedding and the second, the receptions. It felt different than some NY Indian weddings I had shot, which compressed both into one day rather than a more relaxed timeline. I guess that is one of the differences between NYC and Canada :)
On the wedding day itself, there were two marriage ceremonies at the Sikh temple and at the Hindu Temple. Monisha woke up at 1:30AM to start her hair and make up and I started the day a few hours later at 4:30. It was quite an experience to start shooting a wedding that early.
It was a very long day for them, with all the ceremonies at the Temple and then at their homes. Still, they had enough energy and excitement to take 4 hours of portraits! Deepak kept saying during the extended portrait session, “this is fun.” It really was a beautiful time.
It is very inspiring for me when the couple are so enthusiastic for the portraits. The excitement hangs in the air. When there is a lot of time, things are relaxed, the couple is uninhibited and I can really capture the connection and feelings they share on such a momentous day in their lives. There was no pressure of the cocktail hour approaching when I have a a mere 15 minutes to shoot and work photographic magic. I always recommend to my brides as relaxed a schedule as possible, as photography is an art that cannot be forced. And so it was a real pleasure to have that opportunity with Deepak and Monisha, all the more so as they were so into it, and of course are so photogenic.
The portrait location was Granville Island, which held a lot of meaning to them. It was there that they had their first date. It is so incredibly romantic to take wedding photos at the spot where it all began. There was a show stage, where they were in the same dancing group (through which they got to know each other) and both took part in a dance performance. We then went to eat ice cream at the same spot where they shared ice cream on their first date.
The wedding was exactly as I hoped. The aforementioned descriptive and eloquent Raakhi was there for them at every moment to help and to organize things. She was there for Monisha at 4:00 AM, came to pick me up and drive me, helped with the family shots, logistics, holding the microphone- literally everything. Monisha and Deepak are so lucky to have a true friend like her in their lives.
And of course, I have to conclude how the whole experience strengthened the connection I had with Monisha and Deepak and how truly wonderful it was for me to get to know them even better. Deepak is a very responsible, considerate, sweet natured, genuine, extremely smart, a talented doctor, and most importantly, a great dancer! Monisha’s quiet facade belies a powerful and deep personality. She is strikinlyg beautiful inside and out, graceful, elegant, intelligent, and again, like her husband, a wonderful dancer! It truly confirmed everything that Raakhi had told me two years ago.
The whole thing felt like a fairy book romance and a fairy book wedding. Perhaps this was most simply expressed by Monisha herself, who holding the reception mic, declared that since her guests and family all are familiar with her love of things Disney, said that in Deepak she finally found her Prince.
Update: When I sent Deepak and Monisha their slideshow, they sent me this very sweet email. This kind of feedback from my clients is really what makes all the hard work worth it:
“Oh my goodness! That was exciting! Deepak and I sat down to watch the slide-show yesterday and we were so amazed! the pictures look fantastic! there are so many amazing pictures of our friends and family, many of them we didn’t even get to see properly because it was so hectic! It was getting to watch our own wedding from the outside and actually enjoy what everyone else enjoyed!”
Reception: Hotel Vancouver
Make up and Hair: Dennis TransladoLure Salon
Groom’s Tux: Harry Rosen @ Pacific Center Mall
Lighting and Music: DJ 151
Videography: Chris @ Fresh Canadian Content
Decor: Gary @ Dream Decorators
Cake and Flowers: (friends)
Bride’s Clothes / Jewelry: (From Mumbai, India)