Arsh and Mazhar’s Wedding at Hilton in Fremont
One of the most amazing things about being a wedding photographer in such a culturally diverse area such as the San Francisco Bay Area is that though my work I am given the privilege to immerse myself in the traditions and customs of people from all over the world. Although there is always a universal feeling of love and compassion between a couple, I am lucky to be able to witness firsthand the expressions and interactions that are unique to each couple.
When Mazhar called me to inquire about hiring my services for a very traditional Islamic wedding, I was immediately interested. He was considering a customary wedding with three stages, which meant that there would be events to document over the course of three separate days.
On the first day of the wedding, the Islamic tradition Mazhar follows called for him and his family to visit the bride’s family and ask for permission to marry. When I arrived at Arsh’s home, everyone was gathered for tea and sweets. The bride had her make-up beautifully done and donned her full wedding attire. Upon the arrival of Mazhar, everyone gathered in the living room, where Mazhar’s family proceeded to present jewelry gifts for the bride. Following their custom, both parents agreed to the marriage proposal and shortly after we began with the family group photos.
After the family photos had been completed, it was time to capture some bride and groom portraits. As Arsh and Mazhar walked to a nearby park, I could see just how excited they were about their upcoming marriage ceremony. The rolling hills of the park coupled with the perfectly lit sky made for many great portraits and an exciting end to the first day of the wedding ceremony.
On the second day, after the religious ceremony and the signing of the Nikah both were expected to host a wedding celebration known as a Valimah The decorated hall of the restaurant that would hold the ceremony was nearly empty when I arrived, which gave me a prime opportunity to capture the Mandap and all the reception hall decorations. According to tradition, the bride and groom would sit under the Mandap and all the guests would come by to congratulate them and wish them a successful marriage. As the guests began to arrive, they were greeted by the bride’s family and as they mingled and interacted with one another, I was able to capture a few candid and posed photos. The time before an event is always a great time to capture all the guests attending the reception, as everyone is relaxed and candid.
As expected, the couple arrived and promptly began making preparations for their grand entrance into the reception hall. The excitement level was quickly rising and everyone was anxiously awaiting the chance to catch a glimpse of the couple. When they finally entered the room, spurred on by the beat of their favorite Pakistani song, Arsh and Mazhar were greeted by their friends and family, all eager to wish the couple a prosperous wedding. As custom holds, the couple had their first dance together and later sat under the Mandap. All the guests came by to congratulate them, presented gifts, and took many photos with the couple.
The third and final night of Arsh and Mazhar’s wedding was at the Hilton Grand Ballroom in Fremont. This was the wedding reception for all the guests who could not make it to the second night of the wedding. Since it was the final night, everything had a much more formal and elegant theme.
After the bridal preparations, it was time to go down and capture the atmosphere of the reception hall. The sidelights provided very subtle and ambient lighting, which presented a very elegant and exquisite look. Later as the guests began to arrive and interact with each other, there were great opportunities for me to capture some candid photos of the guests.
The grand entrance of Arsh and Mazhar was just like a scene out of a Bollywood movie. Both looked so beautiful and elegant as they performed a passionate first dance. For good luck, both sets of parents began showering the couple with dollar bills. After the first dance had concluded, everyone came up on the decorated stage to sit next to Arsh and Mazhar on the couch and chairs specially prepared for the occasion. I then proceeded to capture another round of formal photos with everyone.
I am honored to have been a part of this unique and amazing wedding. Arsh and Mazhar were both such a delight to work with and the entire experience was quite amazing. Events like these make the life of a wedding photographer both rewarding and exciting. I wish them many happy years together and I hope to work with them once again in the future.